Hollywood Docket: Floyd Mayweather, Showtime Sue to Preempt Pirate Streaming

Plus settlements over a death on a Discovery Channel show and the rights to the Sherlock film 'Mr. Holmes.'

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is looking to deal a knockout blow to potential pirates of his upcoming (supposedly final) fight with Andre Berto.

With Showtime, the boxer’s company Mayweather Promotions filed suit Wednesday against three "John Doe" defendants who operate mayweathervsandrebertolivestream.com, which they say (and the website's unsubtle name suggests) plans to stream for free the bout set for Saturday at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

It's become the preferred strategy of the networks broadcasting big boxing matches like Mayweather's to sue defendants they believe will pirate the events before the fights even take place. Prior to Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao's record bout in May, Showtime and HBO sued unnamed defendants doing business via websites like boxinghd.net and sportship.org for pages like "Watch Mayweather vs. Pacquiao Online Free," and secured a restraining order against them before the match.

The tactic differs from other preemptive actions, like the WWE's to seize bootlegged merchandise when it appears, in seeking to shut down potential pirates before they commit any actual infringement. The new complaint presents the same reasoning as Showtime and HBO's: Unlike with merchandise, "the work at issue is live Coverage of a one-time live sporting event whose outcome is unknown."

Showtime will charge $64.95-$74.95 for the fight, which also will be available via parent CBS online and Sony Playstation. The cabler and Mayweather want a restraining order and an injunction against mayweathervsandrebertolivestream.com and damages for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement (read the complaint).  

In other entertainment law news…

—Whether the film Mr. Holmes infringes the copyrights of Arthur Conan Doyle's estate for the writer’s later Sherlock Holmes stories is one case attorneys won’t have to solve. Conan Doyle estate attorney Benjamin Allison tells The Hollywood Reporter the estate has reached a settlement agreement with distributors Miramax and Roadside Attractions and director Bill Condon over the film, which follows an aged Holmes (Ian McKellen), and a separate agreement with Mitch Cullin, whose novel A Slight Trick of the Mind the film adapts, and publisher Penguin Random House. Allison says the parties reached the agreement in principle before the drama's U.S. opening July 17 and are putting it in writing.

—The French culture minister Fleur Pellerin told Canal+ Television she plans to change the country's ban on viewers under 18 watching scenes of unsimulated sex in cinemas. Why? Love. Gaspar Noe's pornographic film, which premiered in Cannes in 2015 to controversy (including over its poster), first was given a rating prohibiting viewers under 16, but following an appeal from a conservative legal group, the rating was changed to prohibit viewers under 18. Pellerin reportedly wants to change the policy requiring the new rating and will appeal the rating with the Conseil d'Etat, France’s highest administrative body.

—DVDs of Silver Linings Playbook might include an illicit advertisement. In a complaint filed Thursday in Oregon (read here), the record company Spread says it licensed the song "I'll Be The Light" to J.C. Penney for a video promoting the retailer's collaboration with Marchesa fashion designer Georgina Chapman. According to the record company, the license covered only in-store and internet uses of the song. Yet, the promo allegedly ended up on DVDs of the Jennifer Lawrence-Bradley Cooper drama.

Why? Chapman is Harvey Weinstein's wife. “Chapman and JCP directed Weinstein and [distributor] Anchor Bay to include the advertisement on the SLP DVDs despite knowing the License specifically excluded use of the [song] on DVDs," states the lawsuit for copyright infringement, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. J.C. Penney and Anchor Bay declined to comment. "The insurance company is handling it," a Weinstein Co. spokesperson tells THR.

—Discovery has settled the lawsuit filed over the death of Michael Donatelli, a veteran killed in a helicopter crash in February 2013 during filming of a military program. Donatelli, 45, was killed with crewmember Darren Rydstrom, 45, whose family filed multiple lawsuits in 2013 and 2014, and pilot David Gibbs, 59. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. “The Donatelli family would most of all like to have Mike back. Their second hope is that this case will help prevent easily avoidable tragedies like this from occurring on entertainment productions," the Donatellis' attorney Kevin Boyle tells THR. Discovery declined to comment.

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