Hollywood Docket: Bill Cosby; Disney's Board of Directors; 'Gilmore Girls' Settlement

Some new developments in entertainment law including resolution to a battle over whether interoperability codes for digital cinema systems are subject to copyright.
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Bill Cosby

In advance of a hearing next month, Bill Cosby is continuing his drive to have a Pennsylvania court dismiss criminal charges over the alleged sexual assault of Andrea Constand.

Earlier this month, Cosby brought a motion that contends that a more than decade delay in prosecution deprives him of due process rights. He contends the assurances he got on non-prosecution, the death of witnesses and more "created a perfect storm of prejudice, bias, and delay that requires dismissal of the stale charges against Bill Cosby.”

Prosecutors responded that Cosby "is an individual who has used his fame and fortune for decades to conceal his crime and hide his true nature. He is not entitled to a dismissal now that the law has caught up to him."

The opposition to the dismissal bid also argued that "new evidence" in 2015, specifically the revelations of what Cosby said during his deposition in the Constand case, breathed new life into an investigation of Cosby.

On Wednesday, Cosby's lawyers responded to that.

"While Mr. Cosby's deposition transcripts were 'newly-available' to the public in 2015, nothing could have stopped the Commonwealth from obtaining those transcripts in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, or 2014 — except, of course, the Commonwealth's promise that Mr. Cosby would not be prosecuted. In fact, all the Commonwealth had to do was ask, and voila!"

In other entertainment law news:

— A $50 million proposed settlement by DreamWorks left Disney and its subsidiaries the only companies still contesting their liability over anti-poaching pacts that allegedly denied animation workers better job opportunities and wages. Disney, however, is fighting on two fronts. Besides the ongoing class action on behalf of the workers, there's also a stockholder-derivative lawsuit over those anti-poaching agreements. In May, a judge dismissed a complaint with the conclusion that plaintiffs failed to establish sufficient facts regarding the Disney board's knowledge of any conspiracy. Last Friday, the plaintiffs filed an amended version that includes (much redacted) internal documents from Disney, financial statements filed with the SEC and more. The amended complaint (read here) alleges that "over half of the Board knew or were reckless in not knowing that under their direction and on their watch the Company was engaging in illegal conduct." The stockholders are demanding, among other things, to be permitted to elect three members to the Board and other measures intended to strengthen corporate governance at Disney.

Gilmore Girls producer Gavin Palone's lawsuit against Warner Bros. Television is now finished after the parties agreed to a confidential settlement. In April, his company sued over a Netflix reboot of the series, contending an agreement entitled him to receive $32,500 for each episode produced after 2003, plus a percentage of the show's modified adjusted gross and an executive producer credit. According to the lawsuit, Warner Bros. took the position that the Netflix reboot off broadcast television constituted derivative works. 

— GDC Technology Limited and Dolby Laboratories have struck their own deal to resolve litigation. In April, GDC filed a lawsuit claiming that Dolby was wrongfully telling its customers of having copyright on interoperability codes related to digital cinema to enhance its own theater sound system. GDC argued interoperability codes are "not protectable forms of intellectual property," or alternatively, GDC "is engaged in fair use," raising the prospect of Hollywood's version of Oracle v. Google. The resolution, which may be revealed in a press release soon, stops this fight from proceeding any further. On Wednesday, the parties filed papers to dismiss the case.

— Comcast isn't waiting to be sued for patent infringement. On Wednesday, the cable giant went to a California federal court to obtain a declaratory judgment that it is not infringing patents held by OpenTV. The defendant is a subsidiary of a Swiss company that is represented by big national law firms. OpenTV has experienced some success prosecuting digital streaming patents against Apple and also has been in court with Netflix. Here's Comcast's complaint spelling out the intellectual property at issue.

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