Hollywood Docket: DreamWorks' Royalty Collection; 'X Factor' Conspiracy; 'Looper' FX Lawsuit
A roundup of some new lawsuits, including the allegation that News Corp. could be on the hook for billions of dollars over in-store coupons.
Collecting money from the New Zealand's educational establishment might be a chore too small or complicated for a Hollywood studio to handle alone.
A lawsuit filed on Tuesday by an outfit called Worldwide Subsidiary Group claims that it was hired in 1999 to collect "secondary rights royalties" on behalf of DreamWorks Studios. This allegedly had WSG going around the world to negotiate and take home money from cable retransmission fees, blank cassette levies, educational copying and performance levies, etc. For this task, the company says it was due a 20 percent commission to be paid in advance.
The relationship terminated in 2002, but WSG says that since royalties take many years to move through the system, they are still owed money.
WSG has filed a complaint in L.A. Superior Court that alleges that there are conflicting claims to New Zealand educational royalties and that Paramount has breached an agreement by ignoring repeated requests for an accounting.
Paramount acquired Dreamworks Studios in 2005, and WSG says the acquisition included the liabilities of the royalty collection agreement.
WSG is demanding at least $100,000. Here's the complaint. Paramount had no immediate response.
In other entertainment law news:
- A conspiracy on X Factor? Well, the Australian version, according to a lawsuit brought by an L.A.-based music company. Camp West Recorders alleges that it had an exclusive recording contract and management agreement with Samantha Jade before the singer-songwriter won the fourth season of X Factor Australia. The plaintiff says the defendants -- including Sony Music, FremantleMedia and Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment -- sold a false story to viewers about how Jade had been signed to a label in the U.S. but had been "dropped" by that label. Camp West further alleges that the defendants "manipulated Jade's 'back story' to take credit for her success, to the detriment of Plaintiff," and that although the show's rules prohibited contestants from participating if they knew the judges, Jade was friends with X Factor Australia judge Guy Sebastian. Here's the full complaint that alleges a conspiracy to interfere with a contract.
- The producers behind last year's time-traveling thriller, Looper, are being sued over special effects. The plaintiff in the case is a company called Gradient Effects, which alleges that it was contracted to perform visual effects work on the film. After doing "considerable" work, Gradient says that it was informed that its VFX was being rejected as unfit for the film. However, Gradient says the unfunded work was used anyway. Here's the full lawsuit against Columbia Pictures, Endgame Entertainment, FilmDistrict and others for breach of contract that could have a judge examining the similarity of VFX work.
- At a shareholder meeting on Tuesday to approve a split of News Corp., the company's general counsel said that any fines arising from violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act would be covered by 21st Century Fox, not the the new News Corp. Which side is responsible for allegations that News Corp. monopolized the business of in-store coupons? According to a new derivative lawsuit against the company by the Iron Workers Mid-South Pension Fund -- which has a history of suing Rupert Murdoch -- "knowledge of News America's monopolistic practices reached the highest levels of the company," and has been the subject of lawsuits by competitors. The complaint claims that News Corp. has already paid out nearly $655 million in settlement money, is facing lawsuits from The Dial Corporation and H.J. Heinz Company and that other big clients in Corporate America are considering bringing their own lawsuits, which allegedly "will likely bring the Company's total damages in the range of billions of dollars." Here's the full complaint. News Corp. has previously denied allegations and sued Heinz alleging breach of contract.