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828 Media Capital, an entertainment financing company, sued investor Gunar Overbeck for breach of contract in California Superior Court, Los Angeles County. The suit, brought by Sheppard Mullin, accuses the defendant of violating a non-disclosure agreement by sharing confidential information with employees and other investors in an attempt to secure a quick return on his $100,000 investment. According to the complaint, financial returns have been slow due to the drawn-out process of independent filmmaking and distribution. The case is 828 Media Capital LLC v. Overbeck, 23STCV19501. … Sony Corp. of America, rapper French Montana, his record label Coke Boys Records and other defendants have been sued for copyright infringement in North Carolina Eastern District Federal Court. The complaint, filed by Toll, Ray & Associates on behalf of Skylar Gudasz, contends that the defendants sampled the plaintiff’s song “Femme Fatale” in a single and music video titled “Blue Chills” before finalizing a licensing agreement. The case is Gudasz v. Kharbouch, 4:23-cv-00137. … Polsinelli and Mims, Kaplan, Burns & Garretson filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in Massachusetts District Federal Court on behalf of Three Ten Merchandising Services Inc. The complaint pursues claims against “John Doe” defendants for their ongoing use of the music group “Nickleback” mark in connection with the marketing and unauthorized sale of bootleg products such as jerseys, caps and T-shirts. The case is Three Ten Merchandising Services Inc. v. Does 1-100, 1:23-cv-11877. … Twentieth Century Fox and parent company Disney have been sued for breach of contract in California Superior Court, Los Angeles County. The suit, filed by Bird Marella on behalf of TSG Entertainment Finance, accuses Fox of using “Hollywood Accounting,” such as inflating above-the-line distribution expenses, to minimize the plaintiff’s share of profits from more than 140 films. The suit also accuses Fox of entering sweetheart licensing deals with affiliates like FX and renegotiating an exclusive licensing deal with HBO to allow for less expensive streaming on Disney+ and Hulu. The case is TSG Entertainment Finance LLC v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 23STCV19433. … Littler Mendelson filed a trade secret lawsuit in Illinois Northern District Federal Court on behalf of Chicago Dance History Project (CDHP). The case pursues claims against former CDHP Executive and Artistic Director Jenai Cutcher that accuse the defendant of refusing to return company property and retaining control of company accounts. The case is Chicago Dance History Project v. Cutcher, 1:23-cv-05595. … Video game development company Gearbox Enterprises filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in Illinois Northern District Federal Court. The suit, brought by Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa, alleges a group of defendants are producing and selling infringing games on e-commerce sites. The case is Gearbox Enterprises LLC v. The Partnerships and Unincorporated Associations Identified on Schedule A, 1:23-cv-05593. … Warner Bros. Entertainment, New Line Cinema and Scope Productions were slapped with a breach-of-contract lawsuit in California Superior Court, Los Angeles County, in relation to the horror films The Nun and The Conjuring 2. The court case was brought by Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz on behalf of Bonnie Aarons, who portrayed the demon nun Valak in the films. According to the complaint, the defendants have refused to pay Aarons her contractually required share of merchandising revenues. The case is Aarons v. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 23STCV19447. … Legendary Pictures Funding is suing for copyright infringement in Illinois Northern District Federal Court in connection with the company’s licensing of Godzilla vs. Kong movie merchandise. The suit targets online retailers for allegedly conspiring to distribute counterfeit merchandise. The suit was filed on behalf of the plaintiff by Keith Vogt Ltd. The case is Legendary Pictures Funding LLC v. The Partnerships and Unincorporated Associations Identified on Schedule A, 1:23-cv-05563. … Sirius XM Satellite Radio has been hit with a copyright lawsuit in Virginia Eastern District Federal Court. The court action was filed by Oppenheim + Zebrak on behalf of SoundExchange, the organization that collects digital performance royalties from sound recordings and distributes them to artists and copyright owners. SoundExchange alleges that Sirius, which offers bundled satellite and webcast digital-audio radio, is artificially inflating the value of its webcasting service when calculating the royalties it owes for the use of sound recordings, resulting in underpayments. The case is SoundExchange Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., 1:23-cv-01083. … Entertainment Partners LLC, a production finance and management company, was hit with a data breach class action in California Superior Court, Los Angeles County. The suit was brought by Wucetich & Korovilas on behalf of individuals whose personally identifiable information was allegedly compromised in a cyberattack. The case is Moore v. Entertainment Partners LLC, 23STCV19250. … Popular YouTube content creator Jimmy Donaldson a/k/a MrBeast, has sued Celebrity Virtual Dining for breach of contract in New York Supreme Court, New York County. The suit arises from a “virtual dining” concept in which MrBeast partnered with restaurants to deliver “MrBeast Burgers.” According to the complaint, which was originally filed in federal court, the burgers were bad and often delivered late; the suit further contends that the defendant was more focused on expanding the “virtual dining” concept among other celebrities than assuring the quality of the burger. The suit was filed for Donaldson by Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz and Lavely & Singer. The case is Beast Investments LLC v. Celebrity Virtual Dining LLC, 1:23-cv-06658. … The Walt Disney Company and several of the company’s current and former executives and directors were slapped with a shareholder derivative lawsuit in California Central District Court. The lawsuit, brought by the Brown Law Firm, claims that the defendants misled investors regarding the overall health of the company and the potential of its Disney+ streaming service. The suit alleges that company insiders improperly shifted costs from Disney+ to legacy platforms to make Disney+ seem more successful than it was. The case is Gervat v. Chapek, 2:23-cv-06389. … Live Nation Entertainment and its top officials were hit with a securities class action in California Central District Federal Court. The suit arises from the Taylor Swift Eras Tour pre-sale fiasco, when Ticketmaster’s website crashed from high traffic. According to the complaint, the defendants failed to disclose that Live Nation had engaged in anticompetitive conduct, including charging high fees and retaliating against venues, which would reasonably lead to regulatory scrutiny, fines and penalties. The class is represented by Glancy Prongay & Murray and the Law Offices of Frank R. Cruz. The case is Donley v. Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., 2:23-cv-06343. … The Walt Disney Co. and Hollywood Records Inc. were hit with a wage-and-hour lawsuit in California Superior Court, Los Angeles County. The court case was filed by the Law Offices of Ramin R. Younessi on behalf of a music research analyst who contends that he was not paid for all hours worked. The case is Wilson v. Disney Worldwide Services, 23STCV18216.
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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.