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 . . . »


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An Unwelcome 15 Minutes: What Can You Do?

In 1968, Andy Warhol exhibited his first international retrospective at the Moderna Museet gallery in Stockholm. The exhibition catalogue contained the well-known phrase: “In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” Warhol repeated that phrase in 1979, stating that his “prediction from the sixties finally came true.” Now that we live in a world in which a video clip can go viral within hours, Warhol’s “prediction” seems more like an understatement — though if Warhol could see the “Numa Numa” guy for himself, he might not actually take much pride in his predictive powers.

Unfortunately — or, for those who view the Internet as an all-you-can-eat buffet to their insatiable appetite for attention, fortunately — more and more people are finding themselves thrust into surprising (and often unwanted) Internet stardom. So, what can you do if you become an unwilling Internet meme? (That is, besides closing your eyes and waiting for your 15 minutes to expire.) Well, it depends. Continue reading the full story . . . »


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Five Lessons from Warner Bros.’ Loss, as Taught to You By Your Mother

This week, the California Court of Appeal upheld a $3.2 million jury verdict for producer Alan Ladd, Jr. in his profit participation lawsuit against Warner Bros. And if you are neither a Warner Bros. stockholder nor named Alan Ladd, Jr., you may well have yawned and gone about your day (actually, Ladd is rich enough that he may have yawned and gone about his day). But if so, then tsk tsk: the Ladd case is big news for everyone in the entertainment industry, be they talent, producers, studio executives, or the lawyers scrambling for their business. That’s because the Ladd case features two truly rare and precious commodities: a jury verdict and a published decision. Continue reading the full story . . . »


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The Definition of a Very Slippery Slope: California’s Video Game Law

Over the last five years or so, numerous state legislatures have passed laws banning the sale of violent video games to minors. In every case, the law was stricken down as unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Seemingly undeterred by such minor facts as judicial unanimity about the constitutionality of such legislation, California too passed a law banning the sale of violent video games to anyone under the age of 18. It used words such as “cruel” and “depraved” to define what was “violent.” And just like every court of appeal that had considered similar laws from other states, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal struck down California’s law without hesitation.

But on April 26, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review. The Supreme Court’s action has caused a furor because the Supreme Court usually does not review cases where the already-existing appellate case law has been entirely consistent across all jurisdictions. It usually only reviews cases where there is a split among the appellate courts. Here, there is no split. Which raises the obvious question — why does the Supreme Court want to review the California law? Continue reading the full story . . . »


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Q&A: The Studio Let Their Option Expire, But I Want to Use Their Screenwriter…Am I Legally in the Clear?

Q: I am in talks with a bestselling author to option his first novel. A studio recently let their option expire. While the book was under option, the studio hired a screenwriter to write a screenplay. I would like to contact this screenwriter to see if he would want to be involved with this property again, under my company. Before I approach him, I would like to know if he would be under any kind of contract with the studio that would prevent him from working with me.

A: A first novel is like first love — clumsy, unnecessary, a big mistake. Just like my first blog (and my subsequent blogs). A first anything is typically a fiasco — the first World War, first pancake, first Troll movie, first car accident. Life is full of failed firsts — a long series of maiden voyages sunk halfway there. But, based on no evidence, I’m sure this first novel is immune from the immutable laws of first flops. Continue reading the full story . . . »


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Definitively Dismissed: Simple Strategies for Successfully Defeating a Copyright Claim

I have a two year old daughter at home that won’t eat. I mean, she’ll eat chocolate chip pancakes, but not chicken, or broccoli, or anything that might actually cause her to grow. If only I’d known earlier that the secret to Alyssa’s healthy eating was putting the chicken and broccoli inside the chocolate chip pancakes. Continue reading the full story . . . »


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