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Weekly Issues in the News

By Geisa Balla


MGM, the film studio behind Martin Scorcese's 1980 film "Raging Bull," filed a lawsuit against former boxer Jake LaMotta and the producers of "Raging Bull II" on July 3, 2012 in the California Superior Court. MGM alleges that LaMotta violated a 1976 agreement giving MGM the right of first refusal on his 1986 memoir "Raging Bull II," upon which the new film is based, or any other "owner-written sequel." The complaint also alleges that Raging Bull II Productions is publicly associating the sequel with the original, which was directed by Martin Scorcese and starred Robert DeNiro, neither of whom has any involvement with the new film. MGM is seeking to halt production of the new film, as well as compensatory and other damages. The complaint alleges that if the new film is allowed to go forward, it will "irreparably tarnish the value of the original."


Shakespeare Theater Company

Shakespeare Theater Company filed a lawsuit on June 12, 2012 against one of its landlords, the Lansburgh Theater in Washington DC, in attempt to fight its threatened eviction from its home of 20 years. The Lansburgh Theater, a nonprofit that serves as the landlord for one of the sites for the Shakespeare Theater Company, told Shakespeare Theater last year that its annual rent would increase from $70,000 to $480,000. When Shakespeare Theater refused to pay the increase, Lansburgh demanded that it vacate the site and that its managing director resign from the Lansburgh board. The Shakespeare Theater Company has now filed suit against the Lansburgh Theater to stop the eviction, claiming that its actions are contrary to its mandate to support the company.


E.U. Rejects ACTA

The European Union rejected an international treaty targeting digital piracy on July 4, 2012. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, had been signed by the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, South Korea, and a number of individual EU members. Opponents of the treaty rallied tens of thousands of protesters into the streets of European capitals last winter, saying that approval of the treaty would lead to the proliferation of anti-piracy measures. Opponents also argued that even if other countries would ratify the treaty, it would have little authority since the EU represented 27 of the 39 countries that participated in the talks. The vote was seen as a victory by internet freedom groups. After the vote, some members of the Parliament stood up in the chamber, holding up signs reading: "Hello democracy, goodbye ACTA." The media industry however, bemoaned the vote, saying that protesters had twisted the debate to make the treaty seem more menacing than it actually is. The Parliament "has given in to pressure from anti-copyright groups despite calls from thousands of companies and workers in manufacturing and creative sectors who have called for ACTA to be signed in order that their rights as creators be protected," said Angela Mills Wade, executive director of the European Publishers Council.


Michael Kors

Michael Kors won a lawsuit against a number of websites selling counterfeit goods under the brand's name. Kors first filed suit in the Southern District of New York in November 2011 against 35 infringing websites, which were selling inauthentic bags, jewelry, and other accessories bearing Michael Kors trademarks. Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled in Kors' favor, holding that the counterfeit products caused consumer confusion as they were sold at price points similar to authentic Michael Kors products. Kors was awarded $2.4 million in damages, which will likely be collected from defendants' PayPal accounts.


U.S. Copyright Office Statement of Policy

The U.S. Copyright Office released a Statement of Policy on June 18, 2012, making it clear that "functional physical movements such as sports movements, exercises, and other ordinary motor activities alone" are not works of authorship protected under U.S. copyright law. The statement was released to clarify the practice of the Office relating to examination of claims of compilations involving uncopyrightable subject matter, and to clarify the Office's policy with respect to registration of choreographic works. The Copyright Office stated that in order for a compilation to be protected by copyright, its content must fall within one or more of the categories of authorship listed in Section 102 of the Copyright Act. The compilation of any other materials that do not fall within one or more of the specified categories of Section 102 is not protected by copyright law. The Copyright Office concluded that a compilation of exercise or yoga poses cannot be protected by copyright since it is not one of the eight categories, and the underlying material constitutes a "functional system or process."

Additionally, the Statement states that "although a choreographic work, such as a ballet or abstract modern dance" incorporate "simple routines, social dances, or even exercise routines as elements of the overall work, the mere selection and arrangement of physical movements does not in itself support a claim of choreographic authorship." Rather, it is explained that such a work must contain "at least a minimum amount of original choreographic authorship," which for copyright purposes must be a "composition and arrangement of a related series of dance movements and patterns organized into an integrated, coherent, and expressive [compositional] whole."


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 6, 2012 9:57 AM.

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