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A Law Law Land Correction (and a Litigant Speaks!)

An interesting footnote to last week’s post, revisiting our “5 Cases to Watch” for 2012.

Last week, I wrote that while talent manager Rick Siegel’s legal war with his former client — which had since morphed into a crusade against California’s Talent Agencies Act writ large — was over, the fight had been taken up by Siegel’s colleagues at the National Conference of Personal Managers, which, in November 2012, brought a direct constitutional challenge against the Talent Agencies Act in federal court.  As part of my preview of the case, I noted that the case “may still be a long shot — anytime someone tries to claim that a law violates the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition on slavery, you have to raise your eyebrows a little.”  But this week, I received a reader correction from Mr. Siegel himself, who writes:


The 13th Amendment claim isn’t about slavery.

The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution states in part:  “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

So to be constitutionally compliant, the benefit of one’s labor can only be voided should there exist: (1) a statute stating that such labor was criminal; and (2) a finding been forfeited must have been found duly convicted of that crime.  Every other California occupational licensing scheme where one loses the right to contract has statutory notice that the unlicensed engagement of activity is a criminal offense and makes that engagement either misdemeanor or felony, the TAA expressly states that per § 1700.44(b) that no TAA violation can be considered criminal.  As the action can’t be seen as criminal, the penalty violates the 13th Amendment.

The original post has been revised to refer to “involuntary servitude” instead of slavery.  Lawyers for the State of California, the Association of Talent Agencies, and celebrities who just like being able to not pay their estranged personal managers may, of course, disagree with Mr. Siegel’s interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment, but let it never be said that Law Law Land doesn’t strive to be fair and precise in its snark.

As for me, I’m just psyched to have gotten (politely) called out by a celebrity of recent history in California law.  Can’t wait for Kim Kardashian to email the blog next!


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.


A Law Law Land Thank You, and the Top 10 of Twenty 10

Well folks, the votes are in, the results are tallied, and the dead voters have been quietly returned to their graves. Thanks to the tireless efforts of you, our faithful readers — as well as our own shameless and relentless self-promotion — we are the winners of the 4th Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100, in the “For Fun” category. In fact, we’re proud to report that Law Law Land was the highest vote-getter among all 100 legal blogs nominated across 12 categories, a group which included such luminaries (if you’re into this sort of thing) as Above the LawSCOTUSblog, and, in our own category, Hollywood Reporter Esq. In other words, by this imposingly scientific measure — obviously more significant than readership, Web traffic, longevity, or general cultural relevance — we are evidently the most popular, important, beloved legal blog in America. If you’re wondering what is the appropriate reaction, as in most matters, just let Corey Haim be your guide:

The battle was long and hard-fought, even if at the beginning, we weren’t exactly sure what we were fighting for. (When we heard “ABA,” we thought that anesthesiologists might be involved. And while we were intrigued by the nitrous oxide prospects, this diagram was so disturbing that we were relieved to learn of our mistake.) But we’re proud and grateful to you, our readers, for sticking with us through our first year. And we must extend our sincerest congratulations to our arch-nemeses at That’s What She Said, a “For Fun” nominee whichalso received more votes than any other blog in the Blawg 100, except for one. TWSS: we don’t mind that you called us “dratted” behind our backs (you should have heard the things we were saying about you). And we dig your work. See you at next year’s polls.

So with all that said, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank someone without whom none of this would have been possible: ourselves. If it wasn’t for our unstinting commitment to using legal analysis as a basis for relentlessly mocking the newsmakers of the entertainment world, you, our wonderful readers, would have had no one to vote for in the Blawg 100. You might have even been forced to go outside. As we assume that many of you are lawyers, this might have proven fatal.

To celebrate our victory, and to mark the end of our first (calendar) year, we’d like to highlight our Top 10 of Twenty 10: the ten most popular Law Law Land posts of 2010, as chosen by you, the readers, with your browser clicks. In reverse order: 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 . . . »

BREAKING NEWS: Law Law Land Nominated for Prestigious Award We’d Never Heard of Before This Week

Once again, for the first time, this blog has been nominated as one of the best blogs in the world by the ABA. We’re still not sure why the American Board of Anesthesiology singled out a blog on entertainment law, but who are we to judge? All we know is that this is one nifty holiday present. Would we have preferred Hanukkah gelt or one of those ShoeDini things they sell on TV? Sure we would have, but the nomination didn’t come with a gift receipt.

The word on the street is that the ABA meticulously hand-picked the top 100 blogs from more than 3,000 legal blogs. And yes, in case you were wondering, the number of legal blogs now outnumbers the number of legal blog readers by a factor of 10 to 1. Being in the top 100 feels sweet indeed. And crushing those other 2,900 losers feels even sweeter. However, it’s a slap in the face that we’re nominated in the “For Fun” category — and we take major offense. Fun is the antithesis of this blog. We always strive to be contemplative, over-analyzing, and consistently dull. We officially demand to be de-nominated, but at the same time, we strongly urge you, your family, friends, frenemies, exes, and loose acquaintances to vote for this blog. While you’re at it, please vote against the other six blogs in our category, including the ones that are much better and more legally accurate than ours. As an added incentive, if you vote for us you will get a free 20% off coupon for Bed, Bath & Beyond. Go ahead, check your mailbox.

Click on this link to vote. If you’re not already registered, join the club. But yes, you need to register. Don’t worry, it will only hurt for a minute. Once you do, be sure to click on that “For Fun” tab to vote in our category.

Again, congratulations to us! We certainly deserve it. You must be so proud. Continue reading the full story . . . »