Posts by Law Law Land

Law Law Land is a lawyer's look at the weird, wacky, wonderful world of the entertainment industry. Our goals are to entertain and educate by putting the day's headlines in context and answering your "haven't you always wondered...?" questions before they're even asked. Other websites may tell you what's going on, but we want to tell you what it all means. Law Law Land contributors have been quoted and profiled in the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter, Daily Variety, Huffington Post, E! News, MSNBC,, Wired, Bloomberg, the Associated Press, and Game Developer Magazine, as well as numerous legal journals and newspaper nationwide. They are also delightful guests at dinner parties.

The Scariest Day of the Year…for Legal Claims Too

We here at Law Law Land are big fans of Halloween, the drunkest, sluttiest, most creative and fun-loving holiday of the year.  Law Law Land HQ itself is awash in cat ears and warlock coats today, and your editor is looking forward to a heaven-vs.-hell, angel-vs.-devil ping pong grudge match of epic proportions tonight.  But if you’re looking for a real fright on Halloween night, just consider some of the following truly scary cases and claims.

If the Past Is Never Dead, Does That Mean the Past Is Undead?

William Faulkner famously wrote, “The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.”  Woody Allen-mouthpiece Owen Wilson less-famously said, in 2011’s Midnight in Paris, “The past is not dead!  Actually, it’s not even past.  You know who said that?  Faulkner.  And he was right.  And I met him, too.  I ran into him at a dinner party.”  And Faulkner’s estate is now infamously saying that, if you use Faulkner’s line (ish) in a movie, with attribution, you have broken the law.

Faulkner’s estate is suing Sony Pictures Classics for copyright infringement and trademark infringement, claiming that Midnight in Paris’s misquote of Faulkner’s famous aphorism from 1950’sRequiem for a Nun not only infringes their copyright, but also violates the federal trademark statute by deceiving viewers into believing that the movie was affiliated, endorsed, or authorized by the Faulkner estate.  So are Sony’s lawyers running scared into the night?  Not likely.  But the distant howls you might be hearing are actually the pained wails of frustrated intellectual property law professors everywhere.

(Special kudos to the usually-dry-as-a-skeleton Courthouse News Service for observing, “at risk of offending the shade, or estate, of Charles Dickens:  This is a far, far weirder thing than Sony has ever done.”)

Continue reading the full story . . . »


And Now for Some Shameless Self-Promotion

Last year, you, our dear and faithful readers, not only catapulted Law Law Land to victory (not to mention glory and legend) in the “For Fun” category of the ABA Journal’s 4th Annual “Blawg 100” awards, you made us the highest vote-getter among 100 beloved legal blogs nominated across 12 largely arbitrary categories. Remember when that happened? That was awesome.

If you want to relive the glory days of Law Law Land’s victorious 2010 Blawg 100 campaign (and if you’ve seen what the stock market, American political climate, and general quality of television programming have looked like over the last month, why wouldn’t you?), the ABA Journal is currently taking nominations for its 2011 “Blawg 100.” If you’re a lawyer or law student who enjoys our shtick and/or thinks that the site looks great with these festive-looking ABA Journal badges on the page, we would be honored by your nomination. So-called “friend-of-the-blawg briefs” are due no later than Sept. 9, 2011.


Law Law Land’s Aaron Moss on Barely Legal Radio

Last week, our very own Aaron Moss broke down the recent spat between Best Buy and, which began when Newegg ran a new TV commercial in which, as Best Buy puts it, “a fake Best Buy employee is depicted as being slovenly and uninformed about computer products.” (Scathing!) Aaron’s post caught the eye of radio host Joe Escalante, whose glittering resume also includes entries such as “bassist of punk rock group the Vandals,” “entertainment lawyer,” “network television executive,” “filmmaker,” and — most importantly, of course — “long-time Law Law Land reader.” And Joe kindly invited Aaron to discuss the issue further on last week’s episode of Barely Legal Radio. You can listen to that interview here:

Part 1 of 2:

Part 2 of 2:

If you haven’t checked it out, Barely Legal Radio is Joe’s weekly take on entertainment law issues. The show looks at hot news stories, provides free answers to live and pre-submitted viewer questions, and is the perfect airwave-based complement to the written analysis you find here at Law Law Land. Plus, Joe is clearly a man of distinguished taste and judgment, having previously invited our own Rachel Valadez on his show to discuss her post about the Mike Tyson/Hangover 2 face tattoo lawsuit.

Barely Legal Radio airs on Sundays at 5 pm on KTLK AM 1150 in Los Angeles, Fridays at 11 am PST on, and Fridays at 2 pm PST on Continue reading the full story . . . »

The Shirley Sherrod Story Is Back…and Everything We Said Before Stands

If you’re a dedicated politico or a devoted reader of Law Law Land, you’ll remember the saga of Shirley Sherrod, the USDA official who was unceremoniously fired by the Obama administration in July 2010 after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted an incendiary video to his site in which the African-American Sherrod seemingly confessed to discriminating against a farmer because he was white. Within days, it emerged that Breitbart had actually selectively edited down a longer video, in which Sherrod’s “confession” set up a broader lesson about personal and racial reconciliation, with Sherrod eventually befriending the farmer and saving his farm. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack promptly offered Sherrod her job back, while the NAACP — which had initially publicly condemned Sherrod — quickly released a statement saying it had been “snookered.” But the damage was done, and Sherrod declined to return to the USDA.

At the time, pundits seemed to treat an eventual lawsuit from Sherrod as an inevitability. Liberal bloggers released reports suggesting that a lawsuit was basically imminent, while conservative legal commentators quickly explained why they thought that seemingly imminent lawsuit would fail. And then, of course, nothing happened. But no longer.

This weekend, while attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., Breitbart was served with a lawsuit from Sherrod, bringing claims for defamation, false light, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. If you’re interested, you can check out the complaint — which, interestingly, does not name as a defendant Fox News, which initially picked up Breitbart’s blog post and fanned the flames of the incipient firestorm of controversy.

But more importantly, you can remind yourself why our own Rachel Valadez argued that, even if the legal road ahead of her would prove long and challenging, even Tea Partiers should want Sherrod to sue…and win. Continue reading the full story . . . »

To Be or Not to Be…Crazy? Law Law Land Live-Tweets the Trial of Hamlet

This evening, the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles will be staging “The Trial of Hamlet,” a unique opportunity for law geeks and Elizabethan England geeks to find common ground in mutual geekdom. [Important linguistic clarification: for our purposes, the term “nerd” refers to general intellectualism and personality, while “geek” refers to a more narrow area of interest/expertise/obsession, e.g., “Star Trek geek.”] Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will preside over a trial determining the competency of Hamlet to stand trial for the murder of Polonius, with a jury including actors Helen Hunt and Tom Irwin making the final call.

While the event is (depending on your perspective, fortunately or unfortunately) sold out, if you’re interested and/or desperately looking for distractions while working late, Law Law Land’s esteemed editor will be live-tweeting the event from about 7:30 pm PST forward. Follow along at the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ Twitter page.

[Correction!: As of 12:20 p.m. PST, tickets are still available here!]

[Correction, Part 2: Correction’s Revenge!: OK, as of 12:30 p.m. PST, they’re out again. Sorry.] Continue reading the full story . . . »

Our Holiday Gift to You: Possibly the Most Comprehensive Array of Legal Humor Ever Assembled

This has been Law Law Land’s first year, and while we already love you, we feel like we’re still getting to know you. (Maybe it’s time you introduced us to your parents, no?) So, like many people experiencing their first holiday season with that special someone, we just weren’t sure what to get you for Christmahanukwanzakah (we’re a “big tent” blog). Then, it hit us: we should just get you something that we would like! That way, even if it’s not your favorite, at least someone will get to enjoy it!

Well, one of our readers was nice enough to send us a ShoeDini after all, so no point in getting that again. The Jon Worley Aloysius Wiggle-WormFlip-A-BabyDemonCleanChop Wow, and Twist-O-Matic all remain tragically fictional. And by the time we got to Things Remembered at the mall, the engraving desk was closed, so we couldn’t give you a bowling ball with our name engraved on it (umm, so you’d always know who gave it to you?). But then we thought back to Thanksgiving, and all those lovely legal turkeys we were thankful for, and all at once it hit us: bizarre legal curiosities!

If you look closely enough, dockets around this country are filled with delightful little stocking stuffer-sized nuggets of legal comedy genius. Whenever we lawyers trudge exhaustedlybound energetically out of bed in the morning, the thing that keeps us going is the hope that maybe, someday, we can be responsible for creating something as wonderful as one of these masterpieces (advance warning — legal mastery can sometimes involve “colorful” language). We can’t be sure, but we think this might be the most comprehensive array of legal humor ever assembled in one place: Continue reading the full story . . . »