Hollywood Docket: Cablevision Exec Pay; Game Show Copying; Elvis Presley Cybersquatting

A roundup of entertainment law news including a $50 million lawsuit from the White House gatecrasher.
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James Dolan

A Cablevision shareholder is suing over executive compensation at the cable company.

The lawsuit filed in Delaware Chancery Court asserts that directors are approving “grossly excessive” compensation and using the business to serve the interests of chairman Charles Dolan and his family.

“The Dolans treat Cablevision as a family coffer, routinely entering transactions with the company that have improperly favored the Dolan family’s interests over the interests of the company and its public stockholders,” says the lawsuit.

Gary Livingston, the plaintiff, says in the lawsuit that Charles Dolan and his son James Dolan have collectively been paid more than $81 million in the past three years. Other Dolan family members have also done well with "high-paying executive positions" in what the complaint terms "nepotism run amok."

A Cablevision spokesperson tells Bloomberg that the lawsuit is an example of “baseless shareholder lawsuits designed simply to enrich the plaintiff and his lawyers.”

In other entertainment law news:

  • Producers of the Natalie Portman Western Jane Got a Gun have settled a lawsuit with director Lynne Ramsay. According to the complaint brought last November in New Mexico federal court, Ramsay didn't follow through on her responsibilities and was instead "repeatedly under the influence of alcohol, was abusive to members of the cast and crew and was generally disruptive." At the time, Ramsay's reps called the reported allegations "simply false." The two sides stipulated to a dismissal last month and have put out a statement saying that the dispute between the parties was "resolved amicably and to their mutual satisfaction." ScreenDaily first reported news of the resolution.
  • Endemol has lost a $1 million lawsuit against producers of a Taiwan game show that was accused of copying the format to 1 vs. 100, according to a local news outlet. A Taipei District Court reportedly ruled that although Go to Top 101 had similar rules and ideas, game show elements like "eliminations" and "helps" were too common to be protectable. 
  • Elvis Presley  Enterprises, the corporate entity that manages the assets of The King, has prevailed in a cybersquatting arbitration over Graceland.com. The registrar of the website contended there were generic uses of Graceland including "as a noncommercial Christian biblical site signifying a state of God's grace." But a panel of arbitrators pointed to evidence of website references to "Elvis Graceland," implying that the website is an official Graceland site and offered services related to Elvis Presley. The arbitration panel notes the "well-known meaning" of Graceland and orders the domain be transferred.
  • Remember Tareq and Michaele Salahi, who both became famous for 15 minutes for crashing a state dinner at the White House? The Virginia Supreme Court has revived a $50 million lawsuit brought against a company hired to promote their reality television careers, reports the AP. DD Entertainment is accused by Tareq of encouraging Michaele to leave him for Journey guitarist Neal Schon. The Virginia Supreme Court reverses a lower court's determination that this was an "alienation of affection" lawsuit, saying a business relationship is in play.
  • An update on an interesting karaoke dispute: In January 2012, KTS Karaoke took Sony/ATV Music Publishing to court in hopes of getting a declaration that it didn't owe $1.28 billion for 6,715 acts of alleged copyright infringement. Sony hit back with counterclaims. According to the plaintiff, Sony "committed copyright misuse by seeking to secure multiple license fees for the same allegedly infringed work by suing each link on the distribution chain." Thereafter, KTS settled Sony's counterclaims but continued to pursue declaratory relief of non-infringement to protect its ongoing business. Two months ago, a California federal judge gave Sony a win in the lawsuit by determining that "nothing in the law suggests that recovery of damages for infringement prevents a copyright holder from suing the infringer (or any other party) for damages for later infringement." Here's the full ruling. Last week, KTS Karaoke appealed the judgment to the 9th Circuit.