Hollywood Docket: PGA Hires Legal Exec; Joe Francis Pleads the 5th; Rick Nelson Vs. Capitol Records

A roundup of recent entertainment law news:

  • Nicole “Nikki" Livolsi has been appointed director of arbitrations & legal affairs for the Producers Guild of America. Livolsi most recently served as litigation counsel to the Century City law firm of Newhouse Seroussi Attorneys. She previously served as a staff attorney with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, a Southern California Indian Tribe and as a legal consultant for the horse racing gambling brand Youbet.com. 
  • Joe Francis, the adult entertainment impresario behind "Girls Gone Wild," has brought the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to a whole new level, says the Nevada Supreme Court. Francis is facing a $2 million claim from the Wynn Las Vegas casino over an unpaid debt, and he's invoking his right to remain silent to the extreme. From the case:
    Do you have a father?" Wynn's counsel asked.
    "I think everyone has a father. Yes."
     "Okay. Is he living?"
     "Right to remain silent."
     "What's his name?"
     "Right to remain silent."

    Francis refused to answer questions whether he's ever been to Nevada, whether he's married, whether anybody lives with him, but it was his refusal to speak up about his mobile phone that got under the judge's skin. "Do you have a cell phone? Right to remain silent. That's the most ridiculous exercise of the Fifth Amendment I think I've ever seen," said Nevada Judge Michelle Leavitt, giving Wynn a victory on summary judgment. The Nevada Supreme Court agrees, ruing Francis' invocation of the Fifth Amendment to be "overbroad."

  • The House Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that would ease prohibition on the disclosure of a consumer's video rental information. The measure is being backed by Netflix, which wants to allow subscribers to share information on Facebook.
  • Actor Chris Tucker is making fun of the $11 million he owes in federal income taxes. "That's the last time I let Wesley Snipes help out with my taxes," he said, referring to the incarcerated fellow actor.
  • The Greenberg Traurig firm has added deal lawyer Larry Kanusher, a former senior vp business and legal affairs for Sony Music Entertainment's global digital group. 
  • The Walt Disney Co. is one of many Hollywood studios sued last week by a patent holding company claiming to hold dominion over certain DVD menu selection feature.
  • A new Boston startup named ReDigi aims to allow consumers a place where they can sell their used digital music to others and believes the operation to be lawful despite a recent Ninth Circuit decision in Vernor v. Autodesk that limited application of the first-sale doctrine in online forums.
  • The estate of Rick Nelson is suing Capitol Records for allegedly underreporting royalties and making things difficult for royalty auditors. Perhaps most interestingly, the plaintiff claims: "Capitol is in possession of $100 million - $250 million in so-called 'unmatched income' -- large caches of income that Capitol claims it cannot link to any particular artist."
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