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USPTO Publishes Neil Young’s Trademarks for Audio Format Alternative to MP3’s

4 Apr

In June 2011 Neil Young filed six trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Those trademarks were:  Ivanhoe, 21st Century Record Player, Earth Storage, Storage Shed, Thanks for Listening and SQS (Studio Quality Sound).  The filed documents described the trademarks as:

“Audio and video recordings featuring music and artistic performances; high resolution music downloadable from the internet; high resolutions discs featuring music and video of music and artistic performances; pre-recorded digital media containing audio and video recordings featuring music and artistic performances for storage and playback.”

As well as “online and retail store services featuring music and artistic performances, high resolution music downloadable from the internet, high resolutions discs featuring music and video, and pre-recorded digital media featuring audio and video recordings for storage and playback.”

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Sony Sued by Weird Al Yankovic for Underpayment of Digital Royalties

3 Apr

Sony Music Entertainment has been sued yet again for underpayment of royalties (see our earlier post entitled Sony Sued by Toto Over Unpaid Online Royalty Payments).  Parody singer Weird Al Yankovic recently filed a $5 million lawsuit against Sony alleging Sony is not paying 50% of revenues per licensing deals as the parties agreed but is instead paying a straight royalty for download sales.  In addition to his underpayment of digital royalties claim, Yankovic also alleges Sony did not give him any money from Sony’s settlements with peer-to-peer music sharing sites  Napster, Kazaa and Grokster.

“The lawsuit filed in Federal court in the Southern District of New York follows a recent federal class action suit against Warner Music Group by band Tower of Power that makes similar claims of underpayment of royalties.

Both Yankovic’s suit and Tower of Power’s class action rely on the famous 2010 appellate ruling involving Eminem. Similarly, the rapper sued his record label, Universal Music Group, for the way royalties are calculated for digital music — whether they are considered a license or a sale.

Ultimately, the court found that digital music should be treated as a license. Like most artists, Eminem signed a contract that specifies he receives 50 percent of royalties for a license as compared to 12 percent for a sale. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the lower court’s decision, so the 2010 appellate ruling stands as the precedent in cases regarding digital royalties.”

To view the full article from The Huffington Post, follow this link.

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“Dances With Wolves” Actor Kevin Costner in Dispute Over Bison Sculptures

28 Mar

The South Dakota Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case involving actor-director Kevin Costner.  Last year artist Peggy Detmers sued Costner alleging  he breached a contract the parties had entered into for the commission of 17 bronze sculptures depicting buffalo and Native Americans.  The parties entered into the contract in 2000 under which Costner intended to display the sculptures at a South Dakota resort, The Dunbar, named after his character in the movie “Dances With Wolves.”  If the resort was not completed, the parties agreed to placement of the sculptures at a mutually agreeable location.  The resort was never built and Costner placed the sculptures near Dearwood at his Tatanka attraction.

Detmers alleged the placement of the sculptures at Tatanka was not a mutually agreeable location and therefore Costner breached their contract.  She argues that Costner should have to sell the sculptures and give her 50% of the proceeds.  Last year a circuit judge ruled the alternative placement did not constitute a breach of contract and the case is now before the South Dakota Supreme Court. Continue reading

50 Cent Victory Over Copyright Lawsuit

28 Mar

50 Cent found himself in hot water after Tyronne Simmons filed a lawsuit in 2010 over the 2007 hit, “I Get Money”.  Unfortunately, Simmons’ copyright claim was time barred as the three year statute of limitations expired.  “The lawsuit has been thrown out of court for some of the parties involved. 50 Cent and other plaintiffs named – including UMG Recordings, Interscope Records, Aftermath Records, Shady Records and G-Unit Records – will not face the wrath of the law as the suit exceeded the three-year statute of limitations for copyright suits.”

The full article from the can be found at this link.
The music video can be found at this link, courtesy of YouTube
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MGM Takes Back Full Control of United Artists

24 Mar

Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) has bought back full control of its film label United Artists.  United Artists, formed in 1919 by Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, became MGM property in 1981.  In 2006, MGM split 30% of stock in United Artists between Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner.  Two films, “Lions for Lambs” and “Valkyrie,” were released from this joint venture. 

“MGM said in its 2011 financial results that it now owns a 100% interest in UA and has bought back “Lambs” and “Valkyrie” as well as two later films financed by UA: “Hot Tube Time Machine” and “Fame.”  The company also said it may resume using the United Artists banner to develop and produce new films. The news came as MGM reported financial results to the owners of its stock, which does not trade on public markets.”

MGM also reported a loss on the recent release “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” the studio’s first film investment after emerged from bankruptcy in 2010.  MGM’s second film investment after bankruptcy, “21 Jump Street,” is expected to be a success after opening last week.

The full article from the Los Angeles Times can be found at this link.

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Another Legal Battle for Apple in China

20 Mar

In a reversal of the usual pattern of U.S. companies going after Chinese copycats, a group of prominent Chinese writers sued Apple Inc. alleging the company sold unlicensed versions of their books through the iTunes online store.  Three separate lawsuits were filed in Beijing alleging Apple sold 59 book titles through the online store unlicensed.  The three lawsuits are demanding millions in compensation from Apple and additional lawsuits are waiting to be filed.

According to Wang Guohua, a Beijing lawyer representing the writers, Apple deleted some of the works made available via the Apple Store after the suits were filed in January.  The works later reappeared after being uploaded again by developers who sell apps through the store.

“Some developers, with whom Apple has contracts, put them back online again.  It is encouragement in disguise, because they did not punish the developers.  The developers could have been kicked out.  But nothing happened to them,” said Wang.

To read the full article from The Huffington Post, follow this link.

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Live Chat with ChickChat, LLC

14 Mar

ChickChat, LLC has added a new and beneficial feature to its blog…. Meebo.  Feel free to chat with these chatty chicks any time we are available for live discussion.

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Win for Warner Brothers in “Last Samurai” Lawsuit

5 Mar

A U.S. District Court judge recently granted summary judgment in favor of Warner Brothers and screenwriter John Logan, stating they had not violated the rights of Aaron and Matthew Benay, brothers who filed suit in late 2005 alleging a screenplay they wrote was copied without their permission.  The brothers alleged the studio and other defendants stole from them the story behind the 2003 film “The Last Samurai.”  The Benay brothers wrote a script in the 1990s called “Last Samurai” and their literary agent “pitched” it to the president of productions at Bedford Falls.  The production company passed on the script, then in 2003 the company produced the box office hit “The Last Samurai.”

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Sony Sued by Toto Over Unpaid Online Royalty Payments

2 Mar

According to reports by and Rolling Stone, the band Toto has filed a lawsuit against Sony for not treating download sales as a license agreement.  In the band’s lawsuit, they argue download sales by a digital store, like iTunes, is a licensed arrangement and should be treated the same as other deals where music is licensed to third parties.  The band argues that digital downloads of their music should be paid as licenses and not as a simple sale as with CDs.  If the digital downloads are paid as licenses, Toto would receive 50% of net proceeds instead of the 12 to 20% of wholeslae for artist royalties for CD sales.  Toto is also alleging breach of contract by Sony for failure to pay the proper royalties.

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Thank You to Guest Speaker at Widener Law

1 Mar

Chick Chat LLC, students of Professor Tonya Evans Entertainment Law class, would like to thank attorney Todd J. Shill of Rhoads & Sinon, LLP in Harrisburg, PA for taking the time to speak to our class.

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