Hollywood Docket: 'Conan' v. Pirates; Justin Bieber v. Joustin' Beaver; 'Titanic' Idea Theft

A roundup of entertainment & media law news, including the company that trademarked Jeremy Lin in 2010.

Nu Image has filed a lawsuit against 2,165 anonymous pirates of the 2011 film Conan the Barbarian. The complaint, lodged Friday in Maryland federal court, alleges that the defendants used BitTorrent to distribute copyrighted material among one another.

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The film company is represented by Thomas Dunlap at Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver, who previously sued thousands of individuals who had shared Nu Image's The Expendables on BitTorrent. The firm has represented other small film studios in mass-joinder litigation, including producers of best picture Oscar winner The Hurt Locker.

Typically, in these cases, a complaint filed against John Does is followed up with a motion to subpoena ISPs for identifying information. Afterward, letters are sent to defendants with demands to settle or face further litigation. The firm says it has been successful in attaining many settlements and has filed lawsuits against named individuals who haven't paid up.

In other entertainment and media law news:

  • A police officer charged with probing News Corp.'s U.K. entities for phone hacking told a judicial inquiry into media enthics that the company has a "culture" of corrupt payments to public officials including soldiers, Minister of Defense officials, police officers and other public servants. The admission could factor into whether the U.S. Department of Justice decides to bring charges against company leaders for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 law banning American firms from paying bribes to government officials abroad.
  • Justin Bieber has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the makers of an Android game called "Joustin' Beaver." According to TMZ, the game allows users to float down a river, defending Joustin' from phot-hogs. Bieber's lawyers say the app represents a "blatant violation" of Bieber's publicity rights and trademarks. They want the game pulled from the Android app market and a detailed accounting of sales be turned over.
  • A Chinese maker of basketballs claims to have discovered newest NBA superstar Jeremy Lin before anybody else. Back in 2010, Wuxi Risheng Sports Utility Co. registered a trademark on a variation of Lin's name. The application was approved in August, which could foreshadow some trademark litigation soon. Lin himself is attempting to trademark "Linsanity" in the U.S.
  • We've covered the many attempts by people to sue James Cameron for allegedly stealing the ideas behind Avatar, but would you believe that a case has just been filed that claims infringement over Titanic? Yes, the blockbuster film that came out last century based on the real-life sinking of the ocean liner. The newest plaintiff, a self-proclaimed "princess," says she never saw the film until recently, when it was playing on television, and says the movie ripped off her dialogue, character names and biographies. She also says she has proof that Paramount had access to her work.