Category Archives: Entertainment

Hollywood Meets Silicon Valley

In “Hollywood Versus Silicon Valley,” I wrote of a series of epic court battles – Napster, Grokster, Youtube – that pitted Hollywood companies, owners of copyrighted content, in court against Silicon Valley innovators, creators of Internet technologies that enabled information sharing but also trading in infringing works.  The court battles against Napster and Grokster lead to the demise of those services.  In the case of Youtube, by contrast, Youtube co-opted some potential adversaries by engaging them with licensing/channel agreements, and has largely convinced the courts that it has complied with copyright law by acting promptly in response to takedown notices from copyright owners. read more

U.S. Supreme Court’s Petrella Presages Significant Increase in Copyright Lawsuits

Frank Petrella wrote three works, including a 1963 screenplay, about the life of boxer Jake LaMotta. Both Petrella and LaMotta assigned rights to make a motion picture based upon these works. United Artists, a division of MGM, used the rights to make the hit 1980 film “Raging Bull.” Petrella died in 1981.

A twist in the copyright law provides that under certain circumstances a deceased author’s heirs may renew copyright in the author’s work free of any assignments the author made during his lifetime.

Paula Petrella, Frank Patella’s daughter and heir, renewed the copyright in the 1963 screenplay in 1991. Beginning in 1998, Paula Petrella’s counsel wrote MGM to assert that she now owned the rights to the 1963 screenplay, which MGM needed to license from her for any continued exploitation of “Raging Bull.” read more

Spillane Trial Group Saves Pope Francis’ Favorite Film

Fans of ‘Babette’s Feast’ Will Have Continued Access to The Film in Modern Media

The lawsuit to determine Spillane Trial Group client Josi W. Konski’s copyright ownership of Babette’s Feast, winner of the 1988 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, settled during trial this month. As a result, Konski’s rights to resume and expand upon his re-release of the film in Blu-ray and DVD formats were confirmed.  Konski agreed to pay royalties to the estate of Gabriel Axel, the late director of the film, pursuant to a modified royalty agreement.

Babette’s Feast received recent attention as Pope Francis’s favorite film.  read more

Damages in “Idea Submission” Cases

Among my clients are writers who developed an idea for a show or movie — anything from an outline or treatment to a full script – presented that idea to a studio or producer, and then afterwards believed the idea was used in a finished product without the author’s permission.  Although California courts have clearly determined such plaintiffs have potential claims, the amount or type of damages they can recover remains unsettled.

These cases rarely present a viable claim of copyright infringement.  A copyright claim should involve significant copying of expression, not merely alleged copying of ideas, themes or plot.  Additionally, few prospective plaintiffs want to proceed with a copyright claim when they hear that, if they lose, a   judgment could be entered against them for the other sides’ attorneys’ fees. read more

Spillane Trial Group Sponsors Silicon Beach Fest 2013

In June, Spillane Trial Group was pleased to be among the sponsors of the second annual Silicon Beach Fest, the area’s largest technology startup festival that highlights the rapidly growing tech entertainment sector in Los Angeles. The festival celebrated the collaboration springing up between entertainment technology and Hollywood through panel presentations, parties, demos, startup pitches and events June 19-22 at various locations along the beach in Venice and Santa Monica.

The festival was organized by Digital LA founder Kevin Winston, who was inspired by Austin’s South by Southwest conference. Digital LA is a Los Angeles entertainment and technology organization that hosts weekly networking events. read more

Hollywood Versus Silicon Valley

For more than 100 years Hollywood has been the world’s epicenter of creative content and home to the film, television and music industries.  The law of copyright – the exclusive legal right of creators and owners of creative works to publish, perform, copy and distribute such works – enabled the ascent of these industries and protected them against theft of their works.  

Hundreds of miles to the north, Silicon Valley has become the world’s epicenter of technology, the densest concentration of technology companies and venture capital in the world.  Silicon Valley spawned a new kind of company, the Internet Service Provider (“ISP”), companies providing consumers with Internet access, caching, web hosting and search services.  read more

The Digital Used Record Store: Capitol Records v. Redigi

When I was a teenager I had a great collection of vinyl albums, including classics by bands such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater and Yes. One of my distinct pleasures was to peruse the album collections in used record stores in the hopes of finding a catch in good condition and at a good price.

The used record store could lawfully purchase and resell copies of albums originally bought as new under the “first sale” doctrine, whereby the owner of a “particular copy” of a copyrighted work that was lawfully purchased could “sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy” without violating the copyright owner’s exclusive right to reproduce or distribute that work. read more

Spillane Trial Group Represents Producer in Dispute to Settle Copyright Ownership of Academy Award-Winning ‘Babette’s Feast’

In April, Spillane Trial Group PLC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on behalf of Josi W. Konski against the Danish Film Directors association and Gabriel Axel, director of Babette’s Feast, winner of the 1988 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Konski is seeking declaratory relief to determine that he is the sole copyright holder to the film and that neither the Danish Film Directors nor Axel have rights to interfere with an anticipated re-release of the film in Bluray and DVD formats in the United States and Canada.

The defendants claim Axel retains a copyright interest in the film arising from a provision of Danish copyright law that expresses certain “moral rights” for authors of creative works read more