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Hollywood Docket: Street Art, Folk Songs and Cryptocurrency

The latest entertainment law news including Duke University's reaction to a lawsuit from John Wayne's heirs.

Sara Bareilles live 2014 L
Kyleen James
Sara Bareilles

From street art to cryptocurrency, here are some things heating up the court docket in the entertainment industry:

  • Maya Hayuk, who created a commissioned mural on the side of a building on Bowery St. in New York, has filed a lawsuit against singer Sara Bareilles and Sony Music for using the backdrop to promote a concert tour. This isn't the first time that Hayuk has taken Sony to court. Two years ago, she filed a copyright lawsuit over the backdrop to a music video by Elle Varner. Add Hayuk's latest lawsuits -- including one against apparel designer Coach over an ad campaign -- to a recent lawsuit by street artists against Terry Gilliam over Zero Theorem, and it could signal some sort of warning to directors to be mindful of their mise-en-scène.
  • The copyright owner of a 1971 composition said to be an original arrangement of a public domain Italian folk song has filed a lawsuit against Miramax and the Saul Zaentz Company for incorporating the song into the 1996 Oscar Best Picture winner The English Patient. The complaint spells out the differences between the original "Quele stradele" and the claimed "E qui commando io" and alleges the film took the latter in an on-screen vocal performance lasting about 49 seconds. This lawsuit might be another consequence of the Supreme Court's recent decision to limit the defense of laches.
  • In reaction to a trademark lawsuit from John Wayne's estate, Duke University told a California judge to dismiss the litigation because the school is famous, but doesn't call California home. The actor's heirs then took the opportunity to oppose this jurisdictional challenge to once again blast the "absurd" idea that anybody would be confused by alcoholic beverages under the "Duke" brand. The plaintiff says it wishes to continue its litigation against the school's "overly aggressive attacks."
  • A decade after the film, Eulogy starring Ray Romano and Zooey Deschanel, came out, financiers and producers are still in court. According to a complaint filed by Equity Pictures Medienfonds GmbH, it put up 100 percent of the financing but has been having trouble collecting proceeds, even after getting an arbitration award and arriving at a settlement with Myriad Pictures. The plaintiff claims being owed more than $540,000, with interest accruing.
  • Kanye West has prevailed in a lawsuit claiming the cryptocurrency "Coinye" violated his publicity rights and trademark. Well, sort of. The plaintiff identified some of the anonymous individuals responsible. They came from all over the world. But the defendants failed to respond to the claims, which led a judge to enter a default judgment.

Twitter: @eriqgardner