8.31.2016

The Week in Review - Entertainment and Sports Law News

Originally posted in EASL blog and written by Michael B. Smith
Almost None of Rio's Athletes Were Previously Suspended for Doping
Of the approximately 11,000 athletes who competed in Rio, only 120 (fewer than 1%) had previously served suspensions or had to return medals because of doping. Just 3.5% of the 974 medals awarded were won by previously-suspended athletes. The vast majority (more than two thirds) of countries participating in the 2016 Olympics had no athletes on their teams who had ever served suspensions for doping. Although the U.S. had the second highest number of previously suspended athletes on its team (second only to Ukraine), those athletes constituted less than 2% of the team. The few athletes with histories of doping suspensions were largely held in contempt by fans.
Players Accused of Drug Use Agree to Meet with National Football League
In connection with its investigation of allegations (later retracted) that appeared on Al-Jazeera, the National Football League (NFL) set August 25th as the deadline for players named in the report to consent to an interview or face suspension. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison and Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers each have agreed to meet with the NFL. The 4th player named, free agent Mike Neil, did not agree to be interviewed.
Major League Baseball Clears Howard and Zimmerman of PED Allegations
Major League Baseball announced Friday that its investigation into allegations reported by Al Jazeera that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman used performance-enhancing drugs found no violations by either player. Both players had filed lawsuits against Al Jazeera in January.
NFL Investigation of Josh Brown Allegations Goes Nowhere
Giants kicker Josh Brown was arrested for domestic violence in 2015. At the time, Brown's wife told the police that he had been physically violent with her on many occasions. On Friday, the NFL announced that neither Brown's wife nor law enforcement officials had cooperated in the NFL's 10 month investigation into Brown's conduct. The NFL ultimately concluded it had insufficient information to corroborate prior allegations, and closed the investigation. Brown was suspended for one game.
Kenya Disbands Olympic Committee
Kenyan athletes brought home 13 medals, the most of any African nation, and were second in the world in track and field. They may also have had the most disorganized Olympic Committee. Players were housed in a dilapidated shanty, uniforms went missing, and their return home was delayed while airline tickets were sought. Team manager Michael Rotich was arrested for allegedly helping athletes beat drug tests. On Thursday, Kenya's government disbanded the Olympic Committee. However, the Olympic Committee challenged that by stating that the government lacked the authority to disband it.
Lochte Loses Sponsors
U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte lost all four of his sponsors after falsely claiming that he and his teammates were held at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro. Speedo dropped him first, announcing it would be donating $50,000 of Lochte's fee to help children in Brazil. Ralph Lauren followed, saying that its agreement with Lochte was limited to the Rio games, and would not be renewed. Gentle Hair Removal said that Lochte did not meet its "high standards", and Airweave was the last to drop him "after careful consideration."
Lochte reportedly has already found a new sponsor in the Pine Brothers throat lozenge company as the face of the "forgiving on your throat" ad campaign. I did not make that up.
Daily Fantasy Sports Get Temporary OK from New York State
The New York State Gaming Commission issued temporary permits to FanDuel, DraftKings, and three other daily fantasy sports sites on Monday. These permits will allow the sites to begin operating within New York State while the Commission devises formal regulations.
Florida Court Green-Lights Privacy Suit over Medical Records Tweet
A federal judge in Florida denied a motion to dismiss New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul's invasion of privacy lawsuit against ESPN and Adam Schefter. Schefter, an ESPN reporter, tweeted a photo of a medical chart showing that Pierre-Paul's finger had been amputated after an accident involving fireworks. The defendants argued that the tweet was protected by the First Amendment.
Blond(e) Disrupts Music Industry
Not Madonna, Frank Ocean. One day before musician Frank Ocean released his much-talked about and well received album "Blonde" (or "Blond," no one is certain) on iTunes, he released a 46 minute "visual album" called "Endless." "Endless" apparently fulfilled Ocean's contractual obligations to record company Def Jam, leaving him free to make an exclusive deal with Apple for the release of "Blond(e)" without involving Def Jam or its parent company, Universal Music Group. Although no one involved agreed to comment on the affair, it is believed that Def Jam and UMG are not particularly happy about it.
Demi Lovato Hears Sleigh Bells Suing
On Monday, musicians Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller, who perform as "Sleigh Bells," filed a complaint against pop star Demi Lovato in the Central District of California, alleging that Lovato's 2015 release "Stars" infringes on Sleigh Bell's 2010 song "Infinity Guitars." Lovato's people denied sampling "Infinity Guitars."
Williams, Thicke, T. I. appeal "Blurred Lines" Decision
Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke, and T.I. have filed their appeal from a judgment that awarded $5.3 million plus 50% of royalties from the song "Blurred Lines" to the estate of Marvin Gaye. The appellants claimed to the Ninth Circuit that the proceedings below had been "a cascade of legal errors."
Snoop and Wiz Sued over Concert Injuries
17 people injured when a railing collapsed at a Snoop Dogg/Wiz Khalifa concert in New Jersey have sued the artists and the owner of the venue for damages. The plaintiffs' attorney contends that the collapse was caused by a lack of adequate crowd control combined with Snoop Dogg allegedly inciting the fans to move en masse.
Greggs Sues Grande and Guetta
Canadian songwriter Alex Greggs has sued musicians David Guetta and Ariana Grande, who respectively wrote and performed the song "One Last Time," for copying a song he wrote called "Takes All Night."
Plaintiff Apologizes for Copyright Suit, Blames Expert
Composer Richard Friedman sued Hans Zimmer in January 2015, alleging that Zimmer's score for the Oscar-winning film "12 Years a Slave" was lifted from Friedman's 2004 composition "To Our Fallen." Friedman voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit on Tuesday, saying he had been "misguided and mistaken" in suing Zimmer, and should not have relied on the findings of his expert.
Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley Beat Copyright Suit
On Thursday, a federal judge in Nashville granted summary judgment in favor of musicians Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley in a copyright lawsuit filed in 2013 by Amy Bowen (a/k/a Lizza Connor). The court found that Bowen failed to establish "substantial similarity" between her song "Remind Me" and Underwood/Paisley's hit of the same name. The fact that both songs repeated the phrases "remind me" and "baby remind me" was not enough.
Melania Trump Threatens to Sue News Outlets for Defamation
Melania Trump has hired Charles Harder, who made headlines successfully representing Hulk Hogan against Gawker Media, to put news outlets including The Daily Mail, Inquisitr, Politico, and Liberal America on notice that she may sue them for defamation. Specifically, Ms. Trump contends that these news organizations published false allegations -- first appearing in Suzy magazine -- that Ms. Trump worked as an "escort" in the 90s.
Gov's Hub's a Dud, Bud
Two years ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would spend $15 million to build a high-tech film studio in Onondaga County, which he said would create at least 350 new jobs. The studio, improbably called the Central New York Hub for Emerging Nano Industries, currently has two full-time employees. The hub's "anchor tenant," FilmHouse, has yet to release a film, has a spotty legal and financial history, and, apparently, not a great deal of film making experience. Furthermore, the New York Times' investigation suggests that FilmHouse propagated misleading information about its physical headquarters, and that in fact its "offices" are in a P.O. box near Albany. None of FilmHouse's executives are reported to be incredibly tiny.
Tantaros Slams Fox Executives in New Complaint
On Monday, former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros commenced a lawsuit in New York County Supreme Court against Fox News, ex-CEO Roger Ailes, and what the complaint calls Ailes's "most senior lieutenants," new CEO Bill Shine, VP of Legal Affairs Diane Brandi, VP of Corporate Communications Irena Briganti, and EVP of Programming and Development Suzanne Scott. Tantaros alleges that she was repeatedly harassed by Ailes and Bill O'Reilly, and that when she complained, she was subjected to "threats, humiliation, and retaliation." Among other things, Tantaros alleges that Shine told her to "let this one go," because Ailes was a "very powerful man"; that Brandi blocked her from appearing on the O'Reilly factor and fabricated claims that Tantaros's book violated Fox policies; that Briganti led a "retaliatory media vendetta against her"; and that Scott ignored her complaints and requests and lied about the reasons for her demotion.
Former Theater Agent Accused of Selling "Phantom Production"
The Manhattan District Attorney alleges that Roland Scahill, a former talent agent, persuaded seven individuals -- mostly close friends -- to invest a total of $165,000 in a one-woman show starring Lupita Nyong'o. Scahill claimed to have obtained the rights to the life story of opera singer Kathleen Battle, and that he already had deals with the Schubert theater and Netflix. Ms. Battle, Ms. Nyong'o, and the Schubert Organization all say they knew nothing about the supposed production.
SEAL Who Wrote bin Laden Book to Pay U.S. $7 Million
Matthew Bissonnette, the Seal Team 6 member who wrote a best-seller about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, reached a settlement with the Justice Department, pursuant to which he will pay the federal government at least $6.8 million. By publishing the book, Bissonnette violated the terms of a non-disclosure agreement requiring him to pre-clear publications to ensure they did not reveal classified information.
Illinois Judge Confirms: Doige not Doig, Supposed Doig Not a Doig
On Tuesday, a judge in Chicago resolved a bizarre case of mistaken identity. At issue was the authenticity of a painting the plaintiff, Robert Fletcher, claimed was made by celebrated artist Peter Doig, but which Mr. Doig said he did not paint. Evidence suggested that the painting (which does resemble Doig's work) actually was made by another man: Peter Doige, with an "e". After a bench trial, the judge found that the painting was not an authentic Doig.
Jiminian Law PLLC is devoted to helping clients in all areas of sports and entertainment law.  Providing knowledgeable and effective representation is the key to my success.  Sports and entertainment attorney, Danny Jiminian, is available for a free consultation at 917.388.3574 or 929.322.3546 or email your questions at danny@djimlaw.com.

8.17.2016

Author Sues Agency for Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Trademark Infringement Among Other Claims

As summarized by Law 360Hollywood mega-agency William Morris Endeavor’s bid to toss a suit alleging it conspired against an author-client (Dov Seidman) so a related company (Droga5 LLC) could infringe his work for a Chobani yogurt advertising campaign was denied by a California judge Friday, who stayed the case until a New York court rules in a related suit.

Seidman and his LRN Corp. originally sued Chobani and Droga5 LLC in June 2014, claiming they had intentionally ripped off his “How” marks based on his book, How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything. Seidman claims WME intentionally leaked his ideas to WME’s marketing subsidiary, Droga5 LLC, for yogurt maker Chobani LLC’s “How Matters” campaign. Seidman later filed a California complaint against WME with a sole cause of action; for breach of fiduciary duty.

According to Law 360, In its motion to dismiss or stay the complaint, William Morris argued to the court that Seidman and his company LRN Corp. was already litigating a near identical suit in New York. In that action, Seidman sued Droga5 and Chobani, originally alleging federal trademark claims that the plaintiff subsequently dropped. Before the NY court, however, is the author’s motion to file a first amended complaint, which keeps the state trademark infringement and unfair competition claims and adds four new state law causes of action: unfair competition, unjust enrichment, abetting misappropriation and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, the latter two against Droga5 only.”  Both cases are still pending as of this date.

Jiminian Law PLLC is devoted to helping clients who have been subject to trademark infringement and breaches of contract.  Fair play and respect for intellectual properties and contracts are essential for a healthy economy and society.  Trademark infringement and contract attorney, Danny Jiminian, is available for a free consultation at 917.388.3574 or 929.322.3546.

NY case: Seidman et al v. Chobani LLC et al, Docket No. 1:14-cv-04050 (S.D.N.Y. Jun 04, 2014).
CA case: Dov Seidman et al. v. William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC, Case No. BC613619 Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

8.15.2016

Perlmutter vs. Peerenboom - a Hollywood case of defamation and genetic larceny

Ike Perlmutter, Chairman of Marvel Entertainment, vs. Harold Peerenboom, a Toronto businessman who founded multinational executive search firm Mandrake Management, is a fascinating look at a defamation case with political overtones and a little discussed legal minefield: genetic larceny.  This is an area particularly worrisome to celebrities, politicians, athletes and other famous people.
Genetic larceny has been the subject of other cases. In 2002, private investigators hired by former MGM mogul Kirk Kerkorian were alleged to have swiped DNA from film producer Steve Bing's discarded dental floss to prove he — not Kerkorian — was the father of a young child. Some stars have expressed concern about genetic pilfering, perhaps prompted by a now-shuttered website, CelebrityGenetics.com, which was offering a bounty for a star's first DNA sample. Madonna reportedly has ordered her dressing rooms be sterilized to thwart any DNA theft.
Click here for the rest of the article. 

Jiminian Law PLLC is devoted to helping victims of defamation.  An entertainment law attorney with a strong working knowledge of defamation, privacy, publicity and 1st Amendment issues, Danny Jiminian is available for a free consultation at 929.322.3546. 

8.05.2016

Work in Entertainment? Then Avoid Melania's Immigration Mess

David Leopold, immigration attorney, writing on Medium, lays out a clear case in this article for why Melania Trump most likely came to this country under false pretenses. I'm at a loss as to why she didn't try  an H-1B or O visa. The majority of foreign fashion models apply for the H-1B visa, which is available for models of distinguished merit and ability. And foreign artists typically must obtain one of the following visa classifications:

  • O-1B classification for aliens of extraordinary ability in the arts;
  • O-2 classification for personnel accompanying an O-1B alien;
  • P-1B classification for internationally renowned performing groups and essential support personnel; and, for individual foreign artists performing as a member of a U.S.-based internationally renowned performing group;
  • P-2 classification for reciprocal exchange program;
  • P-3 classification for culturally unique performers or groups, teachers and coaches, and 
  • P support personnel  
Granted, Melania was not famous when she started out so she would not have qualified for an O-1 visa but the H-1B visa was available since it was specifically designed for models. It truly boggles the mind how stunning Donald and Melania's hypocrisy has been regarding immigration.

Are you a foreign artist or person of talent looking to work in the US? Are you trying to hire a foreign artist or person of talent to work in the US? Then contact me for help at danny@djimlaw.com or call me at 929.322.3546.

Matter included here or in linked websites may not be current. It is advisable to consult with a competent professional before relying on any written commentary. No attorney client relationship is established by the viewing, use, or communication in any manner through this web site. Nothing on this blog or blog posting is official legal advice; it is just information and opinion. But if you want to, you can visit my professional website at www.djimlaw.com and if you wish to learn more then contact me. 

8.02.2016

Brief Bits - a NY Defamation case - Lederer v. Daily News, L.P., 650400/15

Supreme Court of New York, New York County
July 8, 2016, Decided
DECISION AND ORDER
I. INTRODUCTION
The plaintiff, Jeffrey Lederer, commenced this action to recover damages for defamation against Daily News, L.P., and New York Daily News Company (the News defendants), alleging that they repeatedly published photographs of him in the Daily News with captions and headlines that falsely identified him as a person known to the public to be a sex offender. The News defendants commenced a third-party action for contribution and common-law indemnification against Lawrence Schwartzwald, the photographer who took the photographs, and for contribution, common-law indemnification, and contractual indemnification against Splash News and Picture Agency and Corbis Corporation (together Corbis), the agency that licensed the photos for use by the News defendants. Schwartzwald and Corbis separately move, pre-answer, pursuant to CPLR 3211(a) to dismiss the third-party complaint insofar as asserted against each of them. Corbis alternatively moves to sever and stay the third-party action against it. The court grants those branches of the motions which are to dismiss the causes of action for common-law and contractual indemnification, [2]  and otherwise denies the motions.

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