Posts In "General"

General Posts




To Be Judged Not By the Color of Their Skin, But By the Content of Their Legal Briefs

[Ed. Note:  In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we'd like to re-run one of our favorite seasonal blog posts, thereby honoring Dr. King's legacy not only as a visionary and civil rights leader, but also as a copyright litigant.  Don't judge us; we're lawyers, we can't help ourselves.]

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

These words will be heard many times this week as we celebrate the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They are, of course, from King’s famous 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. But as you celebrate his life and listen to his words, ask yourself this question: have you ever heard the whole speech? Not just the key excerpts that will be repeatedly broadcast on the news, but the entire, seventeen-minute address as it was given to a crowd of 200,000 in front of the Lincoln Memorial?

Ever wonder why it’s not shown on TV more often?

The answer, my friends, is copyright. Because while Dr. King may have dreamed of a world without racism, even he wouldn’t dare to dream of a world without lawsuits.

Yes, in addition to being a noted clergyman and civil rights leader, Dr. King was a copyright litigant. Continue reading the full story . . . »




Disney and Warner Bros. Duel on the Yellow Brick Road

A few weeks ago, Eriq Gardner of the Hollywood Reporter wrote an interesting article about Disney’s recent skirmishes with Warner Bros. concerning numerous Wizard of Oz-related trademark applications that both companies have filed.

For Disney, the trademark applications pertain to its merchandising plans for the 2013 release of Oz, the Great and Powerful — “a prequel to the 1900 book by L. Frank Baum, told from the point of view of the Wizard.”  (Fun movie trivia:  Does anyone else remember Disney’s last Oz film?  Headless, princess Mambi, anyone?  Dorothy at the insane asylum?  I suspect Disney is hoping you’d forgotten — but I never will!)

For Warner Bros., its applications (and oppositions to Disney’s applications) are geared towards protecting its rights in the ridiculously valuable Wizard of Oz film and related merchandise.  And it’s no coincidence that, while Disney’s film is to be called Oz, the Great and Powerful, Warner Bros.’ new registration is for “The Great and Powerful Oz.”

For Toto, these applications are all very boring.  He is still caught up in the 2004 book by Roger S. Baum (L. Frank Baum’s great-grandson) and Victoria Seitzinger, entitled “Toto of Oz and the Surprise Party.”  Because Toto eating cake with munchkins is way cuter than some stupid trademark applications.

Toto’s surprise party aside, the battle between Disney and Warner Bros. is a fascinating legal thicket, because it raises questions about the ability to protect derivatives of public domain stories and characters.

Continue reading the full story . . . »




Q&A: How Do I Track Down and Acquire Film Rights to a Book I Want to Adapt Into a Movie?

Q:  I am a young filmmaker in Australia.  I have been chasing the film rights to a book written by an American author.  I have gone through the various publishers and have finally been given the name of the agent who represents the author in the States.  I am interested in knowing if the film rights to the authors book are available, and if they are, I want to know the correct pathway to go down to purchase them.

A:  To find out if the film rights are available, all you need to do is ask the agent (but you also need to do a lot of other things described at the end of this blog).  Assuming the rights are available and owned by the author, the next step is to negotiate the deal with the agent on behalf of the author to option the film rights.  (If the agent is a tough negotiator, you can try to cut him out of the equation and deal directly with the author; that’s a risky strategy that can backfire.  But don’t worry, there are other books available.)  And if you make the deal, the final step is to document the deal in an option agreement.  You could actually purchase the rights, as you suggest in your question, but it’s unusual to do so — the typical way to go about this is to option the rights.

Continue reading the full story . . . »




A(nother) Law Law Land Thank You, and the Top 11 of Twenty 11

I don’t know where this “Terrible Twos” thing comes from, because here at Law Law Land, we’ve had a fantastic second year — thanks, as always, to you, our dear readers.  We’ve laughed together.  We’ve cried together.  We’ve made vaguely inappropriate pornography-related puns together.  We’ve said goodbye to some old bloggers, and hello to some new ones.  We’ve launched our new site, and made impossible promises for the next.  We’ve seen our unorthodox campaign strategy for repeating as the Blawg 100 champions — which is, the strategy of actively trying not to repeat as champions — succeed beyond our wildest dreams.  Yep, all in all, it’s been a fine year.  I think this deserves yet another round of applause, don’t you?  (As always, Corey Haim knows what to do.)

 

So we’re rewarding ourselves by taking the rest of the holiday season off, and seeing you in 2012.  But before we go, we wanted to bring back a post we enjoyed from last year (and let’s face it, it’s really about what we like, amiright?) — like our site, of course, updated for the times.  And so, we present to you the Top 11 of Twenty 11:  the eleven most popular Law Law Land posts of 2011, as chosen by you, the readers, with your browser clicks. This year’s list is the model of equanimity:  our 11 entries come from 10 authors and cover virtually the entire universe of Law Law Land content.  We are nothing if not eclectic here at Law Law Land, and apparently, that goes for our readers too.  In reverse order: Continue reading the full story . . . »




Copyright Lawsuit Filed Against Angelina Jolie for “Plot Theft”

For those of us (males) who entered adolescence in the early ‘90s, Angelina Jolie is a semi-celestial being whose very presence makes us want to cry out “we’re not worthy.”  Okay, so maybe the 13 year-old in me still wants to be Crash Override spelling out “CRASH AND BURN” for Acid Burn after defeating The Plague.  But that is neither here nor there.

In the Land of Stolen Movie Ideas?The news of the day is that a Croatian author/journalist named Josip Knezevic has filed a federal lawsuit (using an Americanized version of his name) against Angelina and several persons/entities related to her upcoming film, In the Land of Blood and Honey, for copyright infringement.  According to Mr. Knezevic, he wrote a book entitled, The Soul Shattering (not to be confused with the World of Warcraft aggro reducing spell, SoulShatter), which Angelina’s executive motion picture producer, Edin Sarkic, allegedly ripped off.  The case is interesting because it not only provides a detailed description of what was ripped off, but it also provides a plausible explanation for how the alleged rip-off occurred.

Continue reading the full story . . . »




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