Hollywood Docket: 'Blurred Lines'; Fox News Age Discrimination; 'Idol' Defamation
A roundup of entertainment law news including a settlement of price-fixing accusations against Apple.
"Blurred Lines" was the song of last summer, but the lawsuit over whether it copies a Marvin Gaye track continues with a new request from Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.
In a Friday filing, they seek for the Gaye family to release its communications with music publisher EMI, with which the family in December settled claims of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. EMI is said to co-own and co-control "Blurred Lines" as well as administrating the Gaye composition, "Got To Give It Up," that Frankie and Nona Gaye allege "Blurred Lines" infringes.
When Thicke, Williams, and producer Clifford Harris Jr. sought declaratory relief in August that "Blurred Lines" hadn't been copied, the Gaye family struck back not only at the musicians but at EMI. The family alleged that to protect the multi-platinum hit, EMI refused to take legal action and attempted to "intimidate" the Gaye family against doing so. Those claims were settled—but now the plaintiffs want to know if EMI disputed the Gayes' claim, and why.
In the new filing, the plaintiffs' attorneys, Howard King and Seth Miller, contend that the communications between EMI and the Gayes would "show Defendants' bad faith in pursuing their claims against Plaintiffs because the Defendants’ own music publisher, EMI, advised Defendants that the claims had no merit." This would help Thicke, Williams, and Harris establish the dissimilarity of their song to Gaye’s track.
The Gaye family, unsurprisingly, is singing a different tune. They now allege that EMI informed them they would not need the music publisher to pursue legal action because they are the legal owners of the song's copyright. Furthermore, they argue that their communications are not relevant to the case, since they settled with EMI. They are represented by Paul H. Duvall.
In other entertainment law news:
- Former American Idol contestant Corey Clark will get no legal recourse for alleged defamation about an affair he claims to have had with Idol judge Paula Abdul. Less than a month after Clark lost a $40-million defamation lawsuit against MTV and parent Viacom, his suit against Fox and E! Entertainment has been dismissed. Clark, who was abruptly disqualified from Idol a decade ago allegedly for failing to disclose a 2002 arrest to producers, filed the suit over denials by Fox and in an E! program that he'd had an affair with Abdul—denials he said damaged his reputation. However, it was a 2012 re-airing of the program that provided the basis of his claims—the statements had been made and the program first aired in 2005, so the case was dismissed due to the statute of limitations.
- Apple will likely avoid what could have been an $840-million trial over e-book price-fixing. The tech company reached an out-of-court settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and other complainants in a class action lawsuit that accuses it and five publishers of antitrust violations. Apple and the publishers were found guilty in a decision last July of colluding to increase e-book prices and hamper competitors, a decision Apple has appealed. The settlement, reached Monday, requires court approval that will hinge on the outcome of the appeal.
- In another settlement, Fox News and Roger Domal are putting to rest an age discrimination suit that Domal, a former senior ad executive at the cable news channel, filed against Fox and chairman Roger Ailes. The lawsuit alleges that in a bid to increase viewership in the 25-54 demographic as well as media buys, Fox News replaced older hosts, anchors, and executives—including Domal—with younger faces. Ailes, the complaint reads, ran a "tight organization" and was involved in operational matters like the alleged shift to a younger appearance for the channel. The parties are now in the process of settling the matter out of court.
- The media consultant who claimed to have devised the idea of selling Al Gore's Current TV to Al Jazeera has lost his lawsuit. John Terenzio sued Current and Gore for $5 million, claiming he had been cut out of the $500-million sale of Current after his presentations to both networks had brought about the deal. Gore, who Terenzio alleged had first rejected the idea of a sale to Al Jazeera but "had a change of heart" due to a presentation of Terenzio's, was dismissed from the case last July. Now, Current’s motion for summary judgment against Terenzio has been granted, on grounds that he presented no triable facts over whether he conveyed the idea to anyone at Current with authority. The judge adds there was also no triable facts about an implicit agreement he had with regards to expected compensation.
- Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker has been hit with a copyright infringement suit from a freelance photographer who claims the reality show used one of her photos without permission. Helayne Seidman says she granted the New York Post limited license to publish the shot of Emil Chynn, and when it was used in a March episode of Matchmaker, she was given no credit or compensation, she alleges. She is suing Bravo, parent NBCUniversal, Matchmaker producers Green Bottle Pictures and Intuitive Entertainment and Cornwell Casting for copyright infringement and requesting a jury trial.
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