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Hollywood Docket: MovieTickets.com Sues AMC; Tabloid Journalism's EU Legal Victory; Porn Copyrights

A roundup of the news from the world of entertainment and media law.

Movietickets.com AMC entertainment logo Split - P 2012

MovieTickets.com has joined a lawsuit against one of its founding shareholders, AMC Entertainment, alleging the exhibitor has been attempting to bully its way towards more control of the company.

The online ticketing website was started 12 years ago as a partnership between Hollywood Media Corp. and two of its exhibitors, AMC and National Amusements Inc.

Hollywood Media and National Amusements have now turned on AMC, filing a lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Palm Beach County on allegations of violations of contractual and common law duties of good faith, fair dealing, and loyalty and violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

PHOTOS: Crazy Cases: 18 of Hollywood's Outrageous Entertainment Lawsuits

MovieTickets.com has now announced that it is joining this legal action.

According to a press release put out by MovieTickets.com, after AMC was denied an attempt to gain greater control and a larger share of MovieTickets.com, AMC disabled its ticket inventory from the website. It's further alleged that AMC is using its inside position with MovieTickets.com to access proprietary information.

The plaintiffs say all of this is a breach of the joint venture agreement between the companies. MovieTickets.com has 20 million registered users in 19 countries, but contends that AMC's actions have harmed its business. The online website estimates its market value would be "in excess of $500 million had AMC fulfilled its obligations and commitments."

In other entertainment and media law news:

  • The European Court of Human Rights has issued two opinions that reject celebrity invasion-of-privacy complaints. One involved a Monaco princess who was photographed skiing by a German publication. The other involved a tabloid newspaper's articles about an unidentified but supposedly well-known TV star who was arrested for cocaine possession. The European Court rejected arguments that the publications had engaged in "harassment" or did their business in "bad faith." The rulings are being seen as a groundbreaking victory for the media's right to report on celebrities.
  • Also in Europe, an appeal is underway today at the UK High Court over whether a man's joking tweet about blowing up Robin Hood airport was objectively malicious. The defendant is a 28-year-old trainee accountant named Paul Chambers, who was convicted of causing a menace under the country's Communications Act of 2003. He's gotten support from many celebrities, including Stephen Fry, who has raised money for his legal defense, and Graham Linehan, the writer of Father Ted.
  • A 10-year-old fight over who owns the rights to the 1990s mega-hit songs "Whoomp! (There It Is)" and "Dazzey Duks" may go to trial. Alvertis Isbell owned two music companies that owned rights to these songs and licensed them to DM Records in 1997. One of Isbell's companies filed for bankruptcy, and DM bought the songs at the bankruptcy estate. But Isbell's other company never declared bankruptcy and now claims that DM has been violating its rights. The judge overseeing this complicated case that's spent a decade in court has now  turned down both DM's and Isbell's motions for summary judgement.
  • Over the past year, many porn companies have been filing lawsuits targeting anonymous pirates of adult entertainment. Typically, after the plaintiffs identify the defendants through an ISP subpoena, defendants are contacted with threats to settle or face charges of committing copyright infringement . Now, one individual, Liuxia Wong, is striking back against one of those porn studios, Hard Drive Productions. According to Wong's complaint, Hard Drive can't sue for copyright because porn can't be copyrighted. "Copyright is authorized only for works which promote the progress of science and useful arts," she says in a complaint that deems porn as not promoting science and useful arts.