Posts In "First Amendment"

First Amendment

Now Starting at Quarterback, a Thinly-Veiled Version of Your Childhood Sports Hero

The Madden NFL series of video games is the latest victim of the rash of lawsuits attacking video games for allegedly using celebrity likenesses without permission. Earlier this month, a retired Cincinnati Bengal and Tampa Bay Buccaneer named Michael, a.k.a “Tony,” Davisbrought a class action lawsuit on behalf of 6,000 retired NFL players, accusing publisher EA Sports of using likenesses of retired NFL players in its games without permission. Our regular readers know all about the ubiquity of these right of publicity cases, and in particular, how they’ve emerged in the video game context. And the script is usually familiar: video game portrays well-known celebrity’s image or likeness, celebrity gets mad, and it’s off to the courthouse. But this case is particularly interesting, because the plaintiffs’ claims don’t actually involve EA using their names or likeness. Continue reading the full story . . . »

“Grease” Isn’t The Word — “Copyright” Is

I love old family movies. You know, those frenetic-yet-nostalgic, motion-sickness-inducing Super 8 films from your childhood? (Believe you me, the cinéma vérité, shaky-cam directors who are currently in vogue have nothing on my dad…) Now that my family’s home movie library has been converted to DVD, there are endless opportunities to force my husband to watch me and my mom ride a camel at “Jungle Habitat” (can I get a shout-out from those of you who grew up in the NY/New Jersey area in the mid-1970’s?) or the fourth of July picnic where the sparkler burned my hand, or — one of my personal favorites — my five year-old self singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” and dancing the Charleston in the first grade holiday play (trust me, its cuter than it sounds).

And so it was with great anticipation that I prepared our video camera for my seven year-old’s musical theater debut in her summer camp’s production of Grease: The G-Rated Version (no swearing, no teen pregnancy, no smoking, no men rubbing cellophane on their crotches…)

But then we got the letter. Continue reading the full story . . . »

Second Circuit Draws Law Law Land This Much Closer to Cursing Up a Storm

The late George Carlin gave us many words to live by. Parents should never name their child Tucker. Redundancies like “true replica,” “young children” and “added bonus” should never be used. Anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac.

Carlin also famously declared that of the roughly 400,000 words in the English language, there are seven words you can never say on television (nor can you write them on the Law Law Land blog). This “Filthy Words” monologue was the basis for a landmark 1978 Supreme Court case, FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, where the high court held in a narrow decision that the FCC had the authority to fine a radio station for playing a 12-minute recording of the monologue. Continue reading the full story . . . »

M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Racebender?

For the uninitiated, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender is a big screen rendition of an immensely popular Nickelodeon television show called “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Due to the release of James Cameron’s Avatar, which shattered box-office sales records worldwide, Paramount Pictures decided to scrap the first part of the show’s title for the film. Thankfully, The Last Airbender wasn’t also based on the novel by Sapphire — otherwise, we would have been in for a world of confusion. Instead, it looks like we’re just in for a world of controversy. Continue reading the full story . . . »

Being Biopic-ky: Or, How Do You Make a Biopic and Avoid Getting Sued?

Filming began at the end of May for the movie Winnie, a biopic about the life of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, with Jennifer Hudson in the starring role and Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela. But these days, what director could start the cameras rolling without a demand letter already in hand? Lucky for Darrell Roodt (and for entertainment law bloggers everywhere), Madikezela-Mandela’s lawyers stepped in, threatening legal action because she “would like to see the script and approve.” Roodt, for his part, vowed to move ahead with filming on schedule, saying that “[t]he film will be made based on a screenplay that was well researched and without any interference, without any influence from any of the main characters.” Which is essentially a polite way of saying buzz off. Continue reading the full story . . . »

Mom, What Does $#*! Mean?

Who knew that the simple combination of a dollar sign, number symbol, asterisk, and exclamation point would stir up a huge controversy?

CBS recently announced it would air a new comedy series titled “$#*! My Dad Says,” inspired by a popular Twitter feed with a very similar (and decidedly less symbolic) name. In the new series, William Shatner plays a curmudgeon who offers witty, and often politically incorrect, advice to his son. Despite the title’s hint at the s-word, CBS insists that its new show will not be indecent in any way and will adhere to all CBS standards. Parents who do not want their children to see the show can simply block the program using a handy v-chip. Moreover, CBS has assured its skeptics that the promotions for the show will say “Bleep My Dad Says,” the “Bleep” referring to the actual word and not the bleep audio effect. And using the word “bleep” may be cloying, but is surely isn’t indecent, right? Continue reading the full story . . . »