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Hollywood Docket: Alicia Keys Settles Lawsuit Over 'Girl on Fire'

A roundup of entertainment law news including podcast patents, a "Lottery Ticket" lawsuit and the latest Superman ruling.

Alicia Keys Girl on Fire single P

Alicia Keys has settled a lawsuit with Earl Shuman, who in 1962 co-authored the composition, "Lonely Boy," a popular 1960s song.

In his lawsuit, Schuman alleged that Keys' "Girl on Fire" used copyrighted material from his composition. The complaint filed in California federal court didn't spell out with great detail what was precisely objectionable, but in "Girl on Fire," the singer appeared to quote the intonation of the prior hit in singing the words "lonely girl." Compare the two songs (here and here).

The complaint was filed late last year, and the litigation didn't get very far for a judge to rule any which way.

Earlier this month, the parties announced in a court filing that they had reached a settlement. No terms were revealed. Schuman's attorney didn't respond to a request for comment.

In other entertainment law news:

  • CBS Corp. and NBC Universal Media are being sued for allegedly violating a patent on podcasts. The complaint comes from Personal Audio LLC, a Texas company that has sued other podcasters for patent infringement. The plaintiff believes that the media giants should have a license to podcast some of their news programs including 60 Minutes, CBS Evening News, The Rachel Maddow Show, Meet the Press and Nightly News with Brian Williams. Personal Audio says its patent covers "an audio program and message distribution system in which a host system transmits information regarding episodes to client subscriber locations."
  • Ice Cube's production company, Cube Vision, as well as Warner Bros. Pictures and Alcon Entertainment are being sued by a man who claims to have had his work stolen for the 2010 movie Lottery Ticket. Franklin White, the plaintiff, says he published his novel, "First Round Lottery Pick" in 2005 and that after an executive at Cube Vision asked for a copy of another work -- a screenplay -- he also sent his book. The complaint cites an "expert" in the film and television industry who identified 44 copied elements in the movie.
  • After many years of presiding over a bruising fight over Superman rights, U.S. District Court judge Otis Wright is dispensing one claim after another in rapid-fire succession. Following decisions to confirm the enforceability of a 2001 agreement that settled Warner Bros. rights, to knock out a tortious interference claim against the lawyer for Superman co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, to deny Warners' attempt to collect legal fees from its legal adversary, the judge has put another nail in the coffin. This time, he's ruled that the heirs can't terminate rights to Superboy and Superman ad works, holding that the '01 agreement encompassed those works too. Here's the ruling.