Hollywood Docket: Showtime Wins Bid to Pre-empt Mayweather-McGregor Fight Piracy

Plus, the Kardashian and Marley families win legal fights.
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Showtime has knocked out one company's attempt to pirate Saturday's highly anticipated fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor.

More than 40 URLs that advertised an unauthorized stream of the bout have been suspended and will remain offline until 10 a.m. Monday after a California federal judge granted the network's request for a temporary restraining order.

"Among other things, Defendants’ threatened infringement would strip Plaintiff of the critical right of first transmission and publication of an extremely valuable live sporting event, would interfere with Plaintiff’s relationships with third parties, is likely to damage Plaintiff’s goodwill among consumers, and will deprive Plaintiff of revenue that will be difficult or impossible to calculate, but is likely far in excess of any amount that Defendants could repay to Plaintiff in damages even if the amount could be calculated," writes U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte.

The operators of the sites are barred from making the fight available for viewing by hosting, streaming or otherwise distributing it, otherwise infringing in Showtime's copyright in the event broadcast and transferring the websites to another registrar or registrant.

Birotte's order also enjoins the defendants from forming any new entities to circumvent the TRO.

In other entertainment legal news:

— The sisters Kardashian are clear of a trademark lawsuit from Kroma beauty. While Kim, Kourtney and Khloe lost their fight to move the dispute to confidential arbitration, they've now won the war. A Florida federal judge has found their Khroma beauty line doesn't infringe in the trademark of the U.K.-based Kroma Makeup EU, which is owned in the U.S. by a company called By Lee Tillett. The legal fight began in 2012 when Tillett learned that the Kardashians and Boldface Licensing were partnering to launch the line and sent a cease and desist. Settlement talks stalled, and Boldface asked a California federal court for a declaration of noninfringement, which prompted Tillett to countersue. That court issued a preliminary injunction, and Boldface changed the line's name to Kardashian Beauty. The parties later reached a settlement. Tillett didn't share any of the settlement proceeds with Kroma EU, which filed this suit in 2014. The Kardashians moved for summary judgment, arguing that Kroma lacks standing to sue because it licensed its mark to Tillett. U.S. District Judge Paul Byron agreed and granted the sisters' motion. (Read his full decision here.) "As my clients have always stated, this case was baseless and they were committed to defending their rights vigorously," says Kardashian attorney Michael Kump. "They are extremely pleased with the Court’s decision today to grant our summary judgment motion and dismiss this case in its entirety."

— Bob Marley's family has won the dismissal of a lawsuit over an unauthorized biopic about the iconic musician that's in the early stages of development. Royal Palm Filmworks sued his heirs in March, claiming it gained rights to the life story of Danny Sims, a Marley producer, and the estate is interfering with its use in Rebels. Marley's Fifty-Six Hope Road Music had sent a warning letter claiming the proposed film didn't have the right to use the singer's likeness, name or music. In response, Royal Palm asked the court for a declaration that Marley's heirs can't prevent it from making a movie based on Sims' life. The estate filed a motion to dismiss, alleging a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and that the plaintiff failed to state a claim.

The court agreed, finding any declaratory relief granted regarding the unfinished screenplay would be nothing more than an advisory opinion. "Until its motion picture is produced or at least reaches some level of tangibility, no real dispute could exist because it could not yet be liable for potential copyright infringement," writes District Judge Philip Gutierrez. The court dismissed the complaint with prejudice, finding that granting leave to amend would be futile until the project is produced. "The Marley family has been, and will always be, vigilant in the protection of its rights," says attorney Bonnie Eskenazi. "We are grateful the Court recognized that the Marley family has every right to protect itself and its intellectual property." (Read the decision here.)

— The Jefferson Starship guitarist suing his ex-bandmates over the use of the group's name can pursue his claims for breach of contract — but only in connection with breaches after co-founder Paul Kantner's 2016 death. Craig Chaquico says only Kantner had permission to use the name after the original group disbanded, and, in essence, the right to the Jefferson Starship name died with him. David Freiberg and Donny Baldwin toured with Kantner and continue to use the name. Chaquico also says they're using historical images of the band that contain his image without permission. Freiberg and Baldwin moved to dismiss the case, arguing that Chaquico's breach of contract claims are time-barred and that their use of the images is protected by the First Amendment. U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James dismissed claims prior to the date of Kantner's death. She also dismissed Chaquico's Lanham Act claim, but is giving him leave to amend. "[W]hile we respectfully disagree with the Court’s Lanham Act analysis, we are pleased that the Court provided Mr. Chaquico with the opportunity to plead further details regarding Defendants’ misleading and unauthorized use of his image," says Chaquico's attorney, David Swift. His amended complaint is due Sept. 1. (Read the full decision here.)

— Fugees co-founder Pras Michel was set to go to trial last week against Showtime, which he claimed was illegally exploiting his documentary Sweet Micky for President, but the artist and network quietly settled their dispute. Michel sued for copyright infringement in July 2016, claiming the film's co-producer licensed the film to Showtime without authorization. The parties filed a joint stipulation to dismiss the matter with prejudice on Aug. 3. Michel was represented by Marty Singer; Showtime was represented by David Halberstadter.

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