Hollywood Docket: Pirate Sentenced; 'Valley of the Dolls' Settlement; Aereo and Google

A roundup of entertainment law news including an allegation that 'The Untouchables' was used as antitrust inspiration.

A federal judge has sentenced the leader of a BitTorrent piracy ring to five years in prison.

Jeramiah Perkins was involved in a group called IMAGiNE, which cammed new movies in theaters and also took advantage of infrared and FM audio systems set up for people with hearing impairments to capture audio. The group was particularly active between 2009 to 2011 and was cited by authorities for seeding such films as Avatar and Clash of the Titans on P2P sites.

In August, Perkins pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. He was given the maximum sentence.

“IMAGiNE was responsible for more than 40 percent of all English-language theatrical movie theft," said Kate Bedingfield, director of strategic communications at the MPAA in a statement. "This group was the most prolific English-language movie theft group in history, and shutting it down was a huge step forward in helping to reassure consumers that the movies and TV shows they watch online are legitimate and secure, not stolen."

In other entertainment and media law news:

  • Twentieth Century Fox Television has settled a lawsuit concerning a new TV series from Lee Daniels (Precious) adapting Jacqueline Susann's Hollywood-set 1966 pot-boiler Valley of the Dolls. Fox was sued by Tiger LLC, which said that it owned rights to the original book and that a license deal with Fox was limited to a sequel or TV movie, not a series. The parties announced their settlement in court last month, but didn't reveal any details of the agreement.
  • Broadcasters hope that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals will overturn a New York judge's refusal to grant an injunction against digital TV distributor Aereo. Meanwhile, as the decision looms, discovery continues in the dispute, and a new front has commenced in a California federal court. Aereo is looking to quash a subpoena served on Google. The broadcasters want information relating to Aereo's marketing strategies and campaigns, which they believe can be identified through seeing documents related to Aereo's "Google AdWords" purchases and Aereo's Google Analytics account. Aereo says that the requests are overly broad and unduly burdensome as well as duplicative of information already turned over.
  • A lawsuit brought by a Belizean archaeology official against Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Co. and Paramount Pictures for using a replica "likeness" of the Crystal Skull in the last Indiana Jones film hasn't lasted very long in court. The plaintiff sued last month over a national treasure that was allegedly robbed from the country, but an Illinois judge quickly intervened to toss the case because the plaintiff, Dr. Jaime Awe, couldn't establish citizenship for purposes of diversity. The jurisdictional shortfall was dismissed without prejudice, however, so if the plaintiff can figure out a better route towards having the case heard, it can be refiled.
  • A new lawsuit filed late last month by soap maker Dial against News Corp. alleges antitrust behavior, hacking and more. The crux of the dispute concerns the market for in-store promotion services, which the plaintiff alleges News Corp. has monopolized and gained an advantage over through activities like hacking into a company's computers to gain customer lists. But the most salacious allegation comes at the top of the complaint where it is stated that "in a sales meeting, Paul Carlucci, then News America Inc.'s chief operating officer, illustrated News' desire for the ultimate in competitive suppression with a video from The Untouchables, in which Al Capone serves as a sales role model as he cudgels a competitive enemy to death with a baseball bat." Here's the complaint.