Communications & Media Art, Entertainment & Sports Constitutional Law

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Another Bill to Expand the Wire Act: Bad Law Clothed in a Lie

This past week’s focus on the presence of the Confederate battle flag on the grounds of the South Carolina capitol (and elsewhere) brought back to the fore the specter of “states’ rights” – the seemingly high-minded excuse...more

8th Circuit Revives Dismissed TCPA Action

On June 8, 2015, the 8th Circuit reversed the Eastern District of Missouri and revived class claims in Golan et al. v. Veritas Entertainment, LLC et al. In Golan, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants—producers of the...more

Michael Jordan Defends His Right to Remain in Court to Protect His Likeness

On March 19, 2015, Wilson Elser published “Michael Jordan Denied Summary Judgment on His Right of Publicity Claim against Illinois Grocer,” an Alert concerning a case in which Michael Jordan was denied summary judgment on his...more

Full Ninth Circuit Nixes Controversial Copyright Decision

On Monday, May 18, 2015, the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, overturned a highly-controversial opinion in Garcia v. Google, Inc., in which a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed the trial court and held that an...more

Penalty! The California Court of Appeal Calls Foul on the NCAA’s Attempt to Seal Records of the USC/Reggie Bush Investigation

In a significant victory for open court filings, the California Court of Appeal rejected an effort by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) to seal 400 pages of documents in a dispute between the NCAA and a...more

Screenwriter SLAPPs Down Libel-in-Fiction Claim

In a victory for all authors of fiction, a screenwriter of the film “What Maisie Knew” has successfully defended a lawsuit that sought to hold him liable for defamation based on the portrayal of a character drawn from an 1897...more

The Dark Knight, Black Panthers, Ghosts and Ginger Rogers: Increasing Protection for Use of Trademarks in Promotions for...

Content creators of all stripes strive for realism in their depictions of the world. This is for good reason – media is more effective, and more immersive, when viewers recognize it as a reflection of the real world. Despite...more

Stacy Allen Speaks: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Unpopular Celebrities And The Right Of Publicity

In retrospect, the victories won by former college football stars in their right of publicity lawsuits against Electronic Arts and its hugely popular NCAA Football videogame franchise are hardly surprising. How could anyone...more

Time for Your Close-up: The Right of Publicity in the Social Media Era

Michael Jordan is one of America’s most revered and iconic professional athletes. He spectacularly led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, was named league MVP for five years and, off the court, reached a...more

Michael Jordan Denied Summary Judgment on His Right of Publicity Claim against Illinois Grocer

In 2009, Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. To commemorate Jordan’s career, Time Inc. published a special Sports Illustrated Presents issue that included congratulatory “advertisements” from several...more

Celebrity Trademark Watch: Can Taylor Swift Shake Off Accusations of Trademark Greed?

Had enough of Taylor Swift yet? For those of you who hate to love her, you might consider Swiftamine, because she is not going anywhere anytime soon. If anything, her media foot print continues to grow. And while one...more

Trademark use within an expressive work must only pass the Rogers test, not a likelihood of confusion analysis: Mil-Spec Monkey v....

The likelihood of confusion test is often called the “cornerstone” of trademark infringement law. It may be in many circumstances, but it does not apply to allegations of infringement within expressive works, as the recent...more

USA: Ninth Circuit Rejects EA’s “Incidental Use” Defense in Madden-Related Right of Publicity Suit

On January 6, 2015, the Ninth Circuit decided that Electronic Arts Inc.’s (“EA”) unauthorized use of former NFL players’ likeness as avatars in the Madden NFL video game series does not qualify for First Amendment protection....more

Status Updates - January 2015 #5

Pupils, passwords and privacy. A law that went into effect on January1st has the parents of some Illinois school children asking themselves how much of their children’s privacy they’re willing to forgo to keep cyberbullying...more

USA: Do Athletes Have Rights of Publicity in Live Broadcast Footage? Minnesota Court Offers Guidance

U.S. courts have recognized that “there is no judicial consensus on how to resolve conflicts between intellectual-property rights and free-speech rights.” Indeed, courts have adopted varying approaches to analyzing right of...more

Sony vs. N. Korea – Let Capitalism Fight Totalitarianism!

Cyber terrorism, North Korea, Sony, extortion, free speech, The Interview, international relations, journalistic ethics, cyber security… can it get any better than this?...more

Mil-Spec Monkey, Inc. v. Activision Blizzard, Inc. - USDC, N.D. California, November 24, 2014

Mil-Spec Monkey, Inc. v. Activision Blizzard, Inc. - USDC, N.D. California, November 24, 2014: District court grants summary judgment in favor of publisher of military-action video game Call of Duty: Ghosts on trademark...more

Litigation Alert: California Superior Court Finds Use of Likeness of Former Panamanian Dictator Manuel Noriega in Video Game...

Manuel Noriega v. Activision Blizzard, Inc., No. BC 551747 (Cal Super. Ct. filed October 27, 2014) - In recent years, federal and state courts have wrestled with how to assess right of publicity claims in the video...more

Paul Watler Speaks: Old-School Investigative Sports Reporting: Still Relevant After All These Years

As a young lawyer in 1985, a case came my way that combined several passions: college football, newspaper journalism and the First Amendment. I was the associate attorney assigned to help apply legal muscle in support of our...more

Holy Non-Infringement, Batman!

Fortres Grand Corporation v. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. - The U.S Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a trademark infringement claim, finding that a real computer software product...more

Executing Noriega?

As some of you may recall, I posted about a lawsuit Manuel Noriega brought against purveyors of the Call of Duty video game franchise arising from his depiction in the game. In essence, I suggested that Noriega’s lawsuit was...more

Texas High Court Rules Improper Photography Law Unconsitutional; Or, Why You Care a Creepy Dude Is Not Guilty

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in a 8-1 decision yesterday that the “Improper Photography and Visual Recording Act” is facially unconstitutional. The case involved a guy who allegedly took pictures of kids at a...more

Stacy Allen Speaks: Video Game Makers Strike Out In College Athlete Cases – Coaching Tips For The Virtual World

Over the past several years, I have written about a series of decisions in suits brought by former collegiate athletes against EA Sports and the NCAA, seeking compensation for the use of their likenesses and those of...more

Washington Redskins Challenge the Constitutionality of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act

The Washington Redskins trademark controversy is far from over. Despite the fact that certain news and sports commentators and mainstream newspapers and organizations have announced that they will no longer use the term...more

Defeating “Libel Tourism” under Mississippi law and the SPEECH Act

In Trout Point Lodge, Ltd. v. Handshoe, 729 F.3d 481 (5th Cir. 2013), the Fifth Circuit became the first appellate court in the country to interpret the Securing the Protection of Our Enduring and Established Constitutional...more

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