Hollywood Docket: Eminem's Royalties; ThinkFilm's Former Lawyer; Paris Hilton's Prosecutor

A roundup of entertainment law news this week...

  • The Supreme Court has declined an appeal filed by Universal Music Group in a dispute over payments for digital tracks and ringtones on songs by Eminem. At issue in the case was whether UMG should pay an 18% royalty, the rate it pays for physical retail sales, or as much as 50%, for use of the copyright. The case now heads to trial to establish precise damages to be paid by UMG. A lawyer for F.B.T. Productions, one of the outfits that worked with Eminem during his early career and which initiated the case, hailed the development, saying it would open the door to UMB turning over $40 to $60 million for digital royalties.
  • The former in-house lawyer for Thinkfilm is caught up in an ethics issue. Susan Tregrub left the troubled production company on bad terms and later introduced a law firm to one of the company's creditors. Eventually, that firm became lead counsel for the creditors in ThinkFilm's bankruptcy. Tregrub later was retained by the creditors to draft their affidavits. A Bankruptcy Court has just denied a motion to disqualify the law firm.
  • The FTC, following up on guidelines published in 2009 meant to develop transparency among advertisers on blogs and social network sites, has made its first fine for violations. Legacy Learning Systems was slapped with a $250,000 fine and other sanctions for hiring affiliate marketers to sing the praises of a learn-guitar DVD series on websites.
  • Those who are prosecuting the crimes of celebrities better be on their best behavior as they evidently become subject to the public eye themselves in later life. Case in point: David Schubert, the Nevada prosecutor who handled prosecution of Paris Hilton and Bruno Mars, was busted this past weekend while purchasing crack.
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