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SiriusXM Radio Inc. was hit with a consumer class action in California Superior Court for Contra Costa County. The complaint, filed by Hattis & Lukacs, pursues claims that the plaintiff engages in a “deceptive” pricing scheme by advertising lower prices than the true prices of its music plans. The complaint further alleges that SiriusXM automatically renews customers’ subscriptions without sending them bills or receipts, thus preventing consumers from learning the true prices of the music plans. The case is Stevenson v. SiriusXM Radio Inc. … Amazon was hit with a trademark infringement lawsuit in Texas Eastern District Federal Court. The suit, brought by the Global IP Law Group and Gillam Smith on behalf of Gregory Chamberlain d/b/a FreeV, alleges that Amazon’s ad-supported video-streaming service “FreeVee” is confusingly similar to the plaintiff’s “FreeV” media service. The case is Chamberlain v. Amazon.com Inc., 2:23-cv-00170. … Barnes & Thornburg filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in Georgia Northern District Federal Court in connection with the financing of the reality television series Ride of Your Life with Courtney Hansen. The complaint, brought on behalf of Royl Garage LLC and Courtney Hansen, accuses Mighty Oak Financial and other defendants of violating Georgia’s criminal usury laws by unlawfully charging Hansen an interest rate of “10 percent per day” on a $300,000 loan. The case is Royl Garage LLC v. Mighty Oak Financial LLC, 1:23-cv-01581. … BMI, Sony and other plaintiffs filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Sunken Ship Investments d/b/a The Brokedown Palace, Ross Koley and Stephen Currie in Nebraska District Federal Court. The suit, filed by Baird Holm, accuses the defendants of playing five copyrighted songs at The Brokedown Palace without permission. The case is Broadcast Music Inc. v. Sunken Ship Investments LLC, 8:23-cv-00141. … Nine major publications, including Associated Press, CNN and the New York Times, sued the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in District of Columbia District Federal Court under the Freedom of Information Act. The lawsuit, filed by Ballard Spahr, seeks copies of government surveillance videos of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The case is Advance Publications Inc. v. Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, 1:23-cv-01014. … Fox News and its board of directors were hit with a shareholder derivative lawsuit in the Delaware Court of Chancery over the alleged promotion of a false narrative of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. The court action contends that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties to the company after defamation lawsuits brought by voting machine companies Dominion and Smartmatic revealed that Rupert Murdoch and other members of the board were aware that the story of election fraud was false but allowed it to be promoted by the media outlet to maintain the network’s ratings by appealing to Donald Trump supporters. The court case was brought by Heyman, Enerio, Gattuso & Hirzel and Gardy & Notis. The case is Schwarz v. K. Rupert Murdoch, 2023-0418. … The U.S. Premier Hockey League (USPHL), an amateur junior ice hockey league, sued Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey and Casey Bradshaw in the Delaware Court of Chancery. The lawsuit, filed by Cole Schotz, accuses the defendants of misappropriating USPHL’s confidential information in favor of competitor North American Hockey League regarding coaching and player development, future business planning and marketing strategies. The case is United States Premier Hockey League LLC v. Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey — Colorado Junior Eagles LLC d/b/a Northern Colorado Eagles, 2023-0406. … Fitness company F45 was sued by brand ambassador and hall of fame golfer Greg “The Shark” Norman in California Superior Court for Los Angeles County. The suit, brought by Loeb & Loeb, seeks $1.75 million in allegedly unpaid invoices for marketing and promotional services. The case is ABG-Shark LLC v. F45 Training Holdings Inc., 23STCV08186. … Netflix was hit with a defamation lawsuit in Texas District Court for Dallas County. The court action was brought by Phillips Murrah PC on behalf of Taylor Hazelwood, a private individual who works in a neonatal intensive care unit. The suit alleges that Netflix misappropriated a photograph from Hazelwood’s personal Instagram page and used the photograph without permission in the true crime documentary The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker. The complaint further contends that Netflix damaged Hazelwood’s reputation by using the photograph alongside photographs of Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, a hitchhiker who was charged with a brutal murder. The case is Hazelwood vs. Netflix Inc., DC-23-04695. … Paramount Pictures, Big Ticket Productions Inc., CBS Studios f/k/a CBS Television Series and other defendants were slapped with a breach-of-contract lawsuit in California Superior Court for Los Angeles County in connection with the television series The Parkers. The court case, filed by the deRubertis Law Firm and Schimmel & Parks on behalf of Hicks Media Inc. and M&M Momar Inc., accuses the defendants of depriving the series’ talent, writers and creators with adequate compensation from the series’ profits. According to the suit, the defendants have allegedly inequitably structured the series’ finances in a way that artificially depressed the show’s profitability. The case is Hicks Media Inc. v. Big Ticket Productions Inc. 23STCV08063. … Live Nation Entertainment, Red Light Management and country singer Chris Stapleton were hit with a wrongful death lawsuit in California Superior Court for Santa Clara County in relation to the murder of Juan Gonzalez at a Stapleton concert in June 2022 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. In November 2022, five men were arrested for Juan’s murder. The court action, brought by the Wilshire Law Firm on behalf of the family of Juan Gonzalez, accuses the defendants of failing to provide adequate security for the premises. Counsel have not yet appeared for the defendants. The case is Gonzales v. Live Nation Entertainment Inc. … Block & Leviton filed a website accessibility lawsuit in Massachusetts District Federal Court on behalf of Arnold Vargas. The suit, which targets Vintage Vinyl Inc., alleges that the defendant’s website denies full access to blind and visually impaired individuals. The case is Vargas v. Vintage Vinyl Inc., 1:23-cv-10810.
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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.