Hollywood Docket: 'Weekend in Vegas' DMCA Lawsuit Ends in Win for Host, Lawyer

A roundup of entertainment legal news involving ESPN, Vizio, 'Sharknado' and Morgan Spurlock.
Courtesy of ABC

The host of The Weekend in Vegas and his lawyer have beat a lawsuit that accused them of having filed a false DMCA takedown notice. 

ISE Entertainment sued comedian Jeff Civillico and his entertainment attorney Gerald Longarzo after they submitted an infringement notice to Amazon, where the show had been available to download. After the series was removed, ISE alleged, among other claims, that the duo violated DMCA section 512(f) by misrepresenting copyright infringing activity. Meanwhile, Civillico and Longarzo claimed ISE never submitted a copyright registration for Weekend in Vegas and lacked standing to make such a claim. 

From November 2017 through June, the court dismissed claims for fraud, declaratory relief, breach of contract and rescission and restitution.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Fitzgerald granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, dismissing with prejudice the remaining claim for violation of the DMCA.

Fitzgerald found that neither Civillico's request submitted through an online form nor Longarzo's follow up email to the company amounted to a takedown request under the DMCA because they centered on the host's rights of privacy and publicity not on any copyright.

"By its express terms, the DMCA applies only to copyrights, not patents, trademarks, or other rights like the right of publicity," writes Fitzgerald in the decision. "Because of its failure to produce sufficient, indeed any, evidence to establish a knowingly materially misrepresentation on the part of either Mr. Civillico or Mr. Longarzo, ISE has not raised a genuine dispute of material facts and Defendants are entitled to summary judgment."

Read the full order here.

In other entertainment legal news:

— The former analyst suing ESPN over alleged discrimination is one step closer to trial after a Connecticut federal judge denied the network's motion to dismiss her lawsuit — but Adrienne Lawrence will be moving forward with a pared-down complaint. U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill on Dec. 6, granted in part ESPN's motion to strike certain allegations from the complaint, specifically those that related to alleged incidents at ESPN decades ago. Underhill ruled that Lawrence can't reference events prior to 2010, which is five years before her start date at the company. (Read Lawrence's amended complaint here.)

— A lawsuit over the failed $2 billion merger between China's LeEco and TV manufacturing giant Vizio has ended in a settlement. Vizio sued for fraud in 2017, claiming LeEco misrepresented its financial status ahead of their deal and that the company had a "secret plan" to use the merger to obtain information about Vizio's corporate clients. The parties filed a notice of settlement on Nov. 30 asking for a stay of proceedings while they hammered out their deal. A stipulation of dismissal was filed Monday and granted by the court Tuesday. 

— Tara Reid is suing Sharknado producers for $100 million for allegedly licensing the rights to use her likeness on slot machines and beer cans in violation of her contract. The actress says her performer engagement agreement contains a clause saying her likeness can't be used "for any merchandising in association with alcohol, tobacco, gambling, hygiene, or sexual products" without her written approval in advance, according to a complaint filed Dec. 6 in California federal court. The actress is suing Asylum Entertainment, SyFy Media Productions and others for breach of contract, false endorsement, misappropriation of likeness and unfair competition. 

— Dean Panaro is fighting a lawsuit from his former employer Abrams Artist Agency by arguing that his contract is unenforceable. The agency in October sued Panaro, claiming he violated his employment agreement by resigning before the end of its term, taking a job with a competitor and soliciting clients to leave with him. AAA also claims Panaro and his new employer, KMR, directed clients to stop paying commissions to AAA.

In an answer filed Nov. 28, Panaro and KMR argue that the non-compete and non-solicitation provisions in his employment agreement with AAA violate California's Business and Professions Code section 16600, which states that "every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void."

— Morgan Spurlock will pay Turner Entertainment Networks just more than $1.1 million to settle a lawsuit resulting from his backing out of a planned TNT docuseries about women's issues, according to a final judgment filed Tuesday. Turner in March sued Spurlock, following the filmmaker's decision to step down from his production company, Warrior Poets, after admitting to past accusations of sexual harassment and assault. The network had a deal with Spurlock for Who Rules the World? and claimed that he ignored requests that funds from the series' production be repaid.