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Comedy Central cable-channel owner Paramount Global and its subsidiary Comedy Partners were slapped by KamberLaw and Stirling, Hale, Miller & Sweet with a class action in New York Southern District Federal Court in connection with audio and audiovisual recordings of comedians’ comedy performances. The complaint accuses the defendants of wrongfully ‘commandeering’ comedians’ royalties by entering undisclosed negotiations and direct licensing agreements with third-parties such as SiriusXM. According to the suit, the defendants entered these agreements without the knowledge or consent of the comedians, cutting them out their statutory royalty rights. The case is Zimmerman v. Paramount Global, 1:23-cv-02409. … Flawless, a fashion and lifestyle brand owned by actress Gabrielle Union, filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Saadia Group on in New York Southern District Federal Court. The suit, filed by Pryor Cashman, seeks over $1.5 million in allegedly unpaid endorsement compensation and royalties for the use of Union’s name and likeness in connection with apparel, accessory merchandise and other products. The case is Flawless Style LLC v. Saadia Group LLC, 1:23-cv-02354. … I Am Athlete LLC d/b/a imATHLETE, which operates an online registration platform for racing and other events, filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against IM EnMotive LLC, EnMotive Co. and Steven Ginsburg in Delaware Court of Chancery. The suit, brought by Rutan & Tucker and Heyman Enerio Gattuso & Hirzel, accuses the defendants of violating an asset purchase agreement by suppressing and diverting revenue to avoid making earn-out payments to the plaintiff. The case is I Am Athlete LLC v. IM EnMotive LLC, 2023-0332. … The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Universal Music Group and other defendants were hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit in Louisiana Eastern District Federal Court over the Rolling Stones song “Living in a Ghost Town.” The complaint, brought by Hayes Law Firm on behalf of Angelslang (aka Sergio Garcia Fernandez), contends that the defendants’ song misappropriated several recognizable and key elements of the plaintiff’s songs “So Sorry” and “Seed of god (Talent in the Trash).” The case is Fernandez v. Jagger, 2:23-cv-00891. … DraftKings, the daily fantasy sports and sports betting site, and certain executives were hit with a securities class action in Massachusetts District Federal Court in connection with the company’s sale of NFTs. The suit alleges that the tokens, expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, constitute an unregistered securities exchange that bears none of the “hallmarks” of blockchain technology, which is typically community-organized and decentralized. The defendants are accused of using the sale of unregistered NFTs to supplement an otherwise unprofitable company. The suit was brought by Kirby McInerney, Berman Tabacco and Hannafan & Hannafan. The case is Dufoe v. DraftKings Inc., 1:23-cv-10524. … Nintendo, the well-known video game company headquartered in Japan, was slapped with a patent infringement lawsuit in Washington Western District Federal Court over its Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite consoles. The court case, which pertains to motion-sensing technology, was filed by Bunsow De Mory LLP on behalf of American GNC Corp. The case is American GNC Corp. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd., 2:23-cv-00302. … Loeb & Loeb filed a trademark lawsuit in Arizona District Federal Court on behalf of Christian Copyright Licensing International LLC, a provider of copyright licenses for musical compositions used in church services. The suit, which names Multitracks.com LLC as defendant, seeks a declaration that the plaintiff’s use of a website under the domain name “multitrack.com” is not unlawful. The case is Christian Copyright Licensing International LLC v. Multitracks.com LLC, 2:23-cv-00368. … Escape Velocity Entertainment filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Blockchain Game Partners (d/b/a Gala Games) in California Northern District Federal Court. The redacted complaint, filed by DLA Piper, accuses the defendant of breaching a video-game development agreement. The case is Escape Velocity Entertainment Inc. v. Blockchain Game Partners Inc., 3:23-cv-00898. … AMC Networks, the entertainment company that operates BBC America, SundanceTV and other channels, was hit with a digital privacy class action in California Northern District Federal Court. The complaint, brought by Reese LLP and Laukaitis Law, accuses AMC of violating the federal Video Privacy Protection Act by disclosing users’ video-viewing histories without consent. The suit alleges that the defendant collects and shares the data with Meta Platforms via the “Meta Pixel,” a piece of code embedded on third-party websites that tracks a user’s online activities. The case is Ickes v. AMC Networks Inc., 3:23-cv-00803. … AMC Entertainment, CEO Adam M. Aaron and members of the company’s board of directors were hit with a securities class action in Delaware Court of Chancery. The complaint, filed by the firms Grant & Eisenhofer and Saxena White and Friedman Oster & Tejtel on behalf of stockholders, accuses the defendants of breaching their fiduciary duties by carrying out a strategy to dilute the voting power of AMC’s Class A stockholders. The case is Allegheny County Employees’ Retirement System, on behalf of itself and all other similarly-situated Class A stockholders of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. v. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., 2023-0215. … Major League Soccer, several MLS teams and other defendants were sued for copyright infringement in California Central District Federal Court. The lawsuit, filed by Johnson & Johnson on behalf of Associated Production Music, accuses the defendants of using the plaintiff’s copyrighted musical compositions without authorization on their social media platforms to promote their commercial activities. The case is Associated Production Music LLC v. Major League Soccer LLC, 2:23-cv-01173.
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By Michelle Davis
Force majeure is lurking in the shadows of the Hollywood strikes, offering struggling studios a potential lifeline out of debt. But the best attorneys and the strongest contracts are proactive, rather than reactive. Thus, consider the following drafting tips to strengthen your force majeure language now, in the calm before the next storm.
By George Ernst
This year’s update from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for O-1B visa petitions has knock-on effects for the movie and TV industries. The update has clarified the correct standard of adjudication for an individual with both elements of an O-1B artist and O-1B motion-picture-and-television-industry (MPTV) classification, meaning situations where a foreign national will be working in the U.S. as an artist, but some of their work will be in MPTV.
By Thomas Kjellberg and Robert W. Clarida
Termination is not automatic. It may be effected only through affirmative action on the part of the author or his or her statutory successors, who must serve an advance notice, signed by or on behalf of all of those entitled to terminate the grant, on the current copyright owner within specified time limits and under specified conditions.
By Entertainment Law & Finance Staff
A look at moves among attorneys, law firms, companies and other players in entertainment law.