Posts In "Litigation"


The Tarnished Era of the Golden Globes

With weeks of double-page “For your consideration…” ads in Varietyand The Hollywood Reporter finally culminating in yesterday’s Golden Globes nominations announcement — about which I have nothing to say other than “at least 3, if not 4, of the nominees for Best Comedy or Musical are neither comedies nor musicals…I mean, seriously, The Tourist?” — Hollywood’s awards season has officially kicked into high gear. As a fan of TV, movies, pop culture, and pointy-headed overanalyzation in general, I’ve always enjoyed awards season (minus the extra traffic congestion that comes from living down the street from Grauman’s Chinese and the Kodak Theater).

Sure, maybe us entertainment lawyers seldom make it into the acceptance speeches (damn agents get all the credit). And certainly no one has ever memorably crowed “you like me! you really like me!” to a studio director of business and legal affairs. (If Spielberg would have won for Jaws in ’76, maybe he’d have thanked his lawyer, Bruce Ramer — after whom Spielberg supposedly named “Bruce,” the mechanical shark featured in the film — but unfortunately for the entertainment legal community, Spielberg never made it to the podium. I guess Spielberg himself might have been a little bummed about it as well.) As it turns out, though, the apparently legally-cursed Globes represent the one awards show whose recent history has provided several opportunities for us entertainment lawyers to get in on the awards season fun.

(Given the economy, I suspect lawyer voodooists trying to drum up business. J’accuse.) Continue reading the full story . . . »

Happy Thanksgiving from Law Law Land

As we embark upon the hectic holiday season, we at Law Law Land would like to take a moment to reflect on all of the things we have to be thankful for in this, our blog’s first year. We are thankful for our loyal readers, all eight of you. We are thankful for our jobs, and for the free donuts on the first Wednesday of every month. And perhaps most importantly, we are thankful for frivolous entertainment industry lawsuits. They keep us entertained, they give us an endless supply of things to write about, and if we’re really lucky, they pay our bills.

With this in mind, and in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, we chronicle some of the legal world’s biggest turkeys: Continue reading the full story . . . »

Reuse and Confuse?: Hollywood’s Recycling of Movie Titles

In 1996, David Cronenberg directed a controversial film, starring James Spader and Holly Hunter, about people with a sexual fetish for car crashes. While the movie was well-received by critics, it was quickly forgotten by most people. That is, until 2004, when Paul Haggis directed a little ensemble drama that went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, and which just happened to share the name of Cronenberg’s earlier work — Crash. At the time, Cronenberg was none too pleased, reportedly proclaiming: “Functionally, it’s stupid. Once they’re both on the DVD shelves, there’s going to be confusion.”

He’d get no disagreement from the tweenage girl who asks her father to rent 2008’s Twilight, only to have him return with a gritty 1998 crime drama starring Paul Newman and Gene Hackman, with nary a pale, brooding vampire in sight. Nor from the Scorsese buff who puts the 2004 Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator on his Christmas list, only to have batty Aunt Edna buy him the forgettable 1985 Christopher Reeve film about an airmail pilot who crash-lands on a mountain full of hungry wolves. Nor from the loincloth enthusiast who thinks he’s found 2000’s Gladiator on TV, only to discover a young Cuba Gooding, Jr. navigating the dangerous world of illegal underground boxing.

In each of these cases, the second of two identically-named films became better known and more commonly associated with its title. But none of these names were particularly unique or memorable in and of themselves. And none of these cases of title reuse prompted legal action. Cronenberg, the director of the first Crash, said at the time that “The last thing a creative person wants is litigation, which is anti-creative.”

Of course, not everyone in the entertainment industry shares Cronenberg’s aversion to lawsuits (which is good, because otherwise I’d be out of business). This brings us to 2010’s entry in Hollywood’s “Think Green” contest, this time starring dueling magicians. Continue reading the full story . . . »

Get Outta my Face(book): Does “Private” Really Mean Private?

[Ed. Note: Last Monday, we brought you Part 1 of 2 of this month's Facebook series, in which Dan Nabel walked us through some of the ethical pitfalls for lawyers litigating in a socially-networked world. Today, Rachel Wilkes wraps up our mini-series by giving you non-lawyers your due, explaining just how "private" your "private information" is once you move from the Facebook Wall to the courthouse steps. Preview: looks like everyone has yet another reason (besides the obvious) to move to California.]

A day in the life of an avid Facebooker might look something like the following. (This is what I hear, anyway. Not speaking from personal experience. At all. Ahem.): Get up. Eat breakfast. Post to Facebook about your breakfast. Drive to work. Post to Facebook about the horrible traffic in L.A. Do some work. Do some work on your farm on FarmVille.* Go to happy hour with co-workers. Post happy hour photos on Facebook… You get the idea.

All of a sudden, your 500 closest friends (or people you haven’t seen since elementary school) know every gory detail about your life. But that’s OK, because you adjusted your privacy settings so only your “friends” can see your profile details, and you don’t mind sharing those details with all of them. So it’s all still considered “private” vis-à-vis the rest of the world….right?

The answer to that may depend on which court is deciding. Continue reading the full story . . . »

Steve Smith Discusses California’s Anti-Video Game Law on Bloomberg News

Last week, Bloomberg’s Lee Pacchia interviewed Law Law Land’s Steve Smith about the Supreme Court case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, which will decide whether a California law barring the sale of violent video games to minors violates the First Amendment. Steve’s views on the subject, of course, are no secret. But we think his podcast makes for one of the most cogent and interesting breakdowns of the issue yet. Check it out here (more Bloomberg Law podcasts here).

Exhibit A, My Social Network: Issues With Making Facebook Evidence “Private”

[Ed. Note: After our popular post about the legal issues surroundingThe Social Network ran last month, we were flooded — flooded, I say! — with requests from our readers for follow-up. "Your analysis of the legal questions raised by the Facebook movie was brilliant, incisive, and hilarious!" raved one highly-representative e-mailer. "But can't you share the same kind of sage wisdom about legal issues surrounding Facebook itself?" Okay, that never happened. But Aaron Moss's post did get us thinking about all the funny little legal quirks that have emerged in the post-Facebook world, so we figured maybe, just maybe, somebody wanted to write that email above but was just too shy to pull the trigger. Don't worry, Nonexistent Mystery Reader, we've got you covered! Today, Dan Nabel examines ethical issues lawyers must face when dealing with the role of Facebook and other social media in their own cases. Next Monday, Rachel Wilkes will educate the non-lawyers about what they should keep in mind for themselves when logging onto Facebook for the seventeenth time of the day.]

Once upon a time, a legal ethics professor told a great story on the first day of class. As a young lawyer, he represented a woman in a personal injury case who had suffered a serious injury as a result of a car accident. At trial, she hobbled to the witness stand on crutches. She testified, tearfully, about the great pain she endured each day from walking even the shortest of distances. She testified how the accident had truly changed her life. After less than thirty minutes on the stand, the jury was practically in tears. The professor left the court house that day confident that when his client finished her testimony on the following day, victory would be assured.

But before appearing in court the next morning, the professor went to exercise at the Santa Monica stairs off Adelaide drive. And of course, he arrived to find his client there. Running. Smiling. Without crutches. Happy as a clam. Maybe even thinking about the perjurious testimony she would give later that morning with the professor’s help.

(This professor waited until the end of the semester to tell his class what he did. Don’t worry, I will tell you at the end of this article). Continue reading the full story . . . »