6:56pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka
Hollywood Docket: Oscar Nominee Claims Copyright Infringement, MGM Hit With Intern Lawsuit
It’s not even been a week since the end of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, but the documentary Peggy Guggenheim — Art Addict has already led to a lawsuit following its world premiere in the festival.
The complaint filed Thursday in New York federal court comes from composer J. Ralph, who received a best original song Oscar nomination for on the 2012 documentary Chasing Ice and wrote the original track "We Will Not Go" for this year's best documentary feature nominee Virunga.
He claims the producers of Peggy Guggenheim have included 50 minutes of his music in the film, which centers on the travels and art collection of the early-20th century socialite. He says they negotiated with him to use his compositions, but rejected his terms and included his music anyway. They allegedly then used his name to advertise the film in Tribeca and in other marketing.
He's filed claims of copyright infringement and right of publicity against the film’s producers, David Koh and Dan Braun of Submarine and Stanley Buchthal of Dakota Group, and director Lisa Immordino Vreeland and music supervisor Bonnie Greenberg. He wants unspecified damages and an injunction against the inclusion of his music in the film.
The producers respond in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter: "This is the first we've heard of this. We have been in good faith negotiations with Mr. Ralph for the use of his music in our film. We have not been served with any papers. This appears to be a misguided attempt to extort us. The facts will bear this out."
In other entertainment law news...
- Showtime and HBO have landed a blow in their preemptive fight to protect the high-profile boxing match between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao from online piracy. The networks Thursday secured a temporary restraining order that restricts boxinghd.net, sportship.org and eight other unspecified websites from posting streams of the fight when it airs Saturday. The order follows the cablers' lawsuit earlier this week requesting damages from the websites for copyright infringement — even though the fight hasn't happened yet — and restrictions on other service providers that facilitate the websites’ operation. "Because the only content currently on the websites in question promotes the anticipated infringement, the Court finds that Plaintiffs' request to include in any injunction language to the effect of ordering service providers to suspend all services to those websites for less than 12 hours surrounding the fight is well-taken," reads the order. It continues with a positive prediction for the lawsuit: "Plaintiffs have established that they are likely to prevail on at least their direct copyright infringement claim."
- Just when it looked like there were no more companies left without intern lawsuits, MGM has become the latest recipient of a class action from a former intern claiming her work violated state labor laws. In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Kimi Gupta argues she and other MGM interns were effectively employees but weren’t paid minimum wage. Gupta was fired for "mistakes on an examination" after working with MGM for three weeks in June 2012. Her lawsuit comes as some of the earliest intern lawsuits end in multimillion-dollar payouts from defendants including Viacom, NBCUniversal and ICM. The studio declined to comment.
- Photographer Howard Rosenberg has filed his second lawsuit against BET and Viacom claiming they used his photos of "Straight Outta Compton" rappers N.W.A. without permission. He settled his first copyright clash with the company in 2011, but he claims in his latest complaint that his photos continued to appear in blog posts on the BET and MTV websites without licensing. He says his photos are especially valuable because they feature the entire rap group: "The founding member Eazy E deceased in 1996, making the Plaintiff’s Image(s) nearly impossible to recreate."THR has reached out to BET and Viacom for comment.