Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Problem With Net Profits Deals: Ask the Tolkien Heirs

Whenever we have clients consult us about a movie, TV, book or other deal where they are supposed to be paid for their work on a net profits basis, our red flags start going up. Here's an example of why that happens to us. As you will see, even after all this time and three hugely successful films, the heirs of "Lord of the Rings" author J.R.R. Tolkien are yet to receive any of the net profits they are entitled to.

Friday, July 24, 2009

COMIC-CON UPDATE: "Comic Book Law School"

Like the "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" that took over the countryside back in the 80's, Comic-Con has arrived once again in San Diego and is taking over the town for the next few days. What started as a small little geek-fest some 20 years ago has become a cultural epicenter for all kinds of entertainment, science fiction, movies, music, and - of course - comic books. We are pleased to have been invited again to speak at Comic-Con on current legal issues relevant to the Comic-Con crowd. Here is the entry from the Comic-Con programming guide about the panel discussion we will be participating in today:

3:30-4:30 Comic Book Law School: Hot Topics— Move over Whoopie and Barbara! It's time for these savvy legal minds to share their views on the ever-evolving legal world, spotlighting cutting-edge, evolving issues being faced by the creators, publishers and distributors of creative works. An all-star panel of attorneys—David Branfman, Alexander Harwin, and David Lizerbram, with moderator Michael Lovitz—shed light on important issues facing individuals and companies alike. Topics will include the new online copyright application process, preregistration of copyrights, fair use, piracy, and the growing popularity of the CopyLeft movement. (Please note: The Comic Book Law School seminars are designed to provide relevant information and practice tips to practicing attorneys, as well as practical tips to creators and other professionals who may wish to attend. This program is approved for one credit of California MCLE.) Room 10

For any of you who will be at Comic-Con today, please stop by and let us know what you think about all of this.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Internet Radio, Royalties, Musicians, and Record Labels:

I was raised on radio. By that I mean I can barely remember a time when I didn't listen to music on the radio. The idea of hearing something new I've never heard before - along with something I loved a long time ago that I haven't heard in a while - has been part of the soundtrack of my life for a long time. But somewhere along the way - I don't know exactly how or when it happened - I stopped listening to music on the radio at work. At least when it comes to old-fashioned over-the-air broadcast radio, that is. In fact, I still listen to music on the radio all day at work - except that now it's Internet streaming radio that I play through my computer speakers. With a few keystrokes on my keyboard, I can change the station without hardly moving. But behind that simple act there is a lot of money to be made and lost by Internet radio stations, record labels and recording artists. Here is an article that describes a new deal that has been cut to dole out some of the money that is being made. This deal means that Internet radio is going to be around for at least a while longer.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Copyrights & Music: ASCAP Files Lawsuit Over Ringtones in Public

Should cellphone companies have to pay a public performance royalty each time a music ringtone plays in public? ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) thinks so and has filed a lawsuit against AT&T to prove the point. Here is a brief article that discusses this issue.