November 21, 2003
In this newsletter:
THE BIG EMPTY OPENS TONIGHT IN L.A.
Congratulations to our client, Echo Lake Productions. Their film, “THE BIG EMPTY,” starring Jon Favreau, Joey Lauren Adams, Rachael Lee Cooke, Kelsey Grammer, and Daryl Hannah opens this Friday, Nov. 21, at the Laemmle Sunset Five (8000 Sunset Boulevard, corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights) in Los Angeles. Producer Doug Mankoff will conduct an informal Q&A at the Wolfgang Puck Café next to the theater on Sunday evening. The film is also screening at the Century Orleans in Las Vegas, and AMC River Park Square 20 in Spokane, WA. Watch the trailer or read about the production by connecting to www.thebigempty.com . Advance tickets are available at www.moviefone.com or www.laemmle.com .
FIRESIDE FILMS LLC
Congratulations to our client, Fireside Films, LLC and director Brad Keller. Their film, “A Killer Within,” began principal photography in Dallas this week. The production stars C. Thomas Howell, Sean Young, Ben Browder, Dedee Pfeiffer and Giancarlo Esposito.
USE OF ELVIS FOOTAGE IN FILM BIOGRAPHY IS NOT FAIR USE
The King has won its appeal. Elvis Presley Enterprises won affirmation from the U.S. Court of Appeals for its preliminary injunction against Passport Entertainment, which prevented Passport from selling a multi-disc documentary about Elvis Presley entitled, “The Definitive Elvis.”
Elvis Presley Enterprises received its original injunction on the basis of copyright infringement. “The Definitive Elvis” incorporated unlicensed clips of copyrighted music, photographs, movies, and television appearances.
Passport Entertainment, which produces celebrity video biographies for the home video market, sought a review of the lower court’s decision, claiming the court abused its discretion and that Passport could, among other things, present a plausible fair use defense.
The doctrine of fair use requires the courts to consider four factors: the purposes and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for and value of the copyrighted work.
In an analysis of the lower court’s decision, Circuit Judge Richard Tallman of the U.S. Court of Appeals determined that the lower court had not made any errors, legal or otherwise, in its factual findings. However, the judge left the door open for a rehearing, writing that the Appeals Court “might view this case as closer than the district court saw it.”
In a dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge John T. Noonan wrote that the district court had both misstated critical facts and governing law, and that the appeals court should, in fact, reverse the grant of preliminary injunction.
Detailing the errors in the district court’s findings, Judge Noonan further commented on the district court’s failure to conduct an analysis of the public interest in the subject of the documentary and the public injury that would be caused by what is essentially a suppression of speech.