Hollywood Docket: Drake Concert Film; FX's 'Archer' Paintings; 'Twilight' Parody

A roundup of entertainment law news including a settlement between Sirius XM and SoundExchange.

Hip-hop star Drake committed trade libel by disavowing a concert film as "unauthorized," alleges a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday.

SpectiCast, the plaintiff, is a provider of content through theatrical and video-on-demand services. According to the lawsuit, SpectiCast was granted rights to a May, 2009 "Homecoming" concert by Drake in Toronto, Canada. Before the concert, the musician entered into a performance agreement that guaranteed him 15 percent of the profits from a recording.

The film was scheduled to be released in 350 theaters on Thursday from a deal SpectiCast made with Fathom Media, but three days before release, Drake told his followers on Twitter that it was not something he had any part in. The Los Angeles Times then ran a story about the tweet and carried a quote from one of Drake's representatives saying, "Obviously Drake and OVO only put out music and video/film that is of the highest quality for their brand and what their fans have come to expect, and do not want any fans to buy into something that has not come from them."

The lawsuit says the "tweet and press release were perfectly time to inflict maximum damage on ticket sales and maximum damage to SpectiCast's reputation," further hypothesizing that "Drake's secret motivation... was to drive Drake's fans to purchase tickets to his own 'OVO Fest' event instead of the Film, under the false guise of '#protectingthefans.'"

Here's the complaint filed by attorney Peter Haviland at Ballard Spahr.

Haviland tells THR some theaters have canceled the release due to Drake's comments. "We just feel this is very unfair to everyone involved in producing this movie," he says.

"This is just a case of sort of an oddball artist who changed his mind about what he wanted to do," he adds.

In other entertainment law news:

  • FX Networks is being sued by an artist who claims that the animated spy series Archer used three pieces of artwork without permission. Michael Leah Keck, whose paintings are described in the complaint as featuring earth-tone abstractions, mixed media and recycled materials, quotes the show's art director as expressing the importance of having backgrounds with "lush painted textures." He's seeking damages for copyright infringement. Interestingly, he's also claiming the paintings were cropped, blurred or manipulated to conceal his authorship. He's claiming the false distribution of copyright management information to also be a violation.
  • Lionsgate Entertainment and its subsidiary Summit Entertainment are closer to trial against the makers of Twiharder, which purports to be a parody of the vampire teen romance film, Twilight. Last year, Between the Lines Productions struck out in its $500 million claim that Summit interfered with the distribution of Twiharder. Now, Summit is on the verge of trying counterclaims that Twiharder violates copyrights. Last week, U.S. District Judge Manuel Real reportedly trimmed those counterclaims by dismissing a claim of trademark infringement for lack of evident confusion, but another claim of trademark dilution is still live as well as the copyright allegations. The judge is urging the parties to settle. If not, a jury will decide if Twiharder is protected as fair use.
  • Sirius XM has settled the lawsuit it filed against SoundExchange and the American Association of Independent Music for allegedly interfering with efforts to license music. According to a court filing last week in New York, the defendants are admitting no wrongdoing, but have agreed to not get in the way of an individual copyright owner's decision to enter into a direct license with the satellite radio company.

Mar. 19, 11:17 a.m. Updated with comment from attorney Peter Haviland.