Hollywood Docket: 'Blurred Lines'; Bob Marley; TV Stunt Accident

A roundup of entertainment law news including a lawsuit from a man who tried to set the record for "fastest time to jump through 10 panes of tempered glass."
Anthony Mandler
Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams will be getting potentially key evidence in their efforts to show that last year's summer mega-hit, "Blurred Lines," is not a copyright infringement of Marvin Gaye's "Got To Give It Up."

On Thursday, a California federal judge ordered the Gaye family to produce any documents relating to a musicologist retained by EMI who came to the conclusion that Gaye's song wasn't infringed.

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Originally, the Gaye family brought counterclaims against EMI, alleging that the publisher had breached its duties to administer Gaye songs by not taking legal action over "Blurred Lines." The family claimed that EMI had a conflict-of-interest because it also had a relationship with Williams and wanted to protect the golden goose. Those claims were then settled.

But Thicke and Williams are prying into the pre-settlement communications between EMI and the Gayes, which prompted the Gayes to object on the basis that the documents were part of privileged settlement discussions.

In his ruling granting a motion to compel, the judge notes that the Gayes have already disclosed the substance of the musicologist's and EMI's opinion and that "a party cannot immunize information from discovery simply by disclosing it in settlement negotiations." The judge also appears to be leaning towards ordering the Gayes to hand over all writings exchanged between EMI and the Gayes about the two songs — waiving away various objections — but "out of an abundance of caution" is gong to inspect the documents first.

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In other entertainment news:

  • Universal Music has worked out a settlement with Rock River Communications. Both companies claimed to own rights to early recordings by Bob Marley and the Wailers. After Universal asserted its rights, Rock River's licensing deal for a remix album went awry, leading to a lawsuit against the music giant for tortious interference, antitrust violations and copyright misrepresentation. Last September, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals revived the lawsuit. But now the case has been dismissed after the parties announced a settlement. The court papers filed this week don't indicate the terms.
  • On the eve of a screening at the Cannes Film Festival, the director of a Nina Simone film brought a lawsuit alleging she was cut out of decision-making on the biopic and that producers had breached the terms of her director deal by not honoring her approval and consultation rights. Now, Cynthia Mort's lawsuit against Ealing Studios Enterprises over Nina has been dismissed. The attorney for the plaintiff hasn't responded to a request for further information.
  • Jesus Villa, who says he agreed to be a shown on a television show, Guinness World Records Gone Wild, where he would attempt the "fastest time to jump through 10 panes of tempered glass," is suing TBS, TruTV and High Noon West over injuries. He alleges in a negligence lawsuit filed in Nevada this week that the defendants agreed to provide certain safety equipment meeting specified standards, but that after a successful test run, they "modified" the equipment and gear. He asserts the defendants "should have known that the aforementioned modifications would harm or result in a substantial risk of harm." Villa reports he was unsuccessful in his attempt and suffered substantial injuries, and that while he was hospitalized, he was instructed to sign documents under the "pretense" of medical treatment and insurance. Here's the complaint.
  • Frank Sivero, the actor who played Frankie Carbone in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, is suing the owner of an El Cajon, California restaurant that came out with a sandwich named after "Frankie Carbone." The lawsuit says that Silvero was photographed while visiting the restaurant, and that the captioned images are being used in advertising on the restaurant's website and on Yelp and Facebook. Sivero alleges this is a violation of his publicity rights. Here's the full complaint.

Twitter: @eriqgardner