LEGAL INSIGHTS FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND MULTIMEDIA
June 14, 2005
In this newsletter:
NEW CONGRESSIONAL AMENDMENT, THE "FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT AND COPYRIGHT ACT OF 2005" WILL IMPACT THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
Congress' recent amendments to the Federal Copyright Act will result in three significant changes: authorizing the "sanitization" of movies for private viewing; making the camcording of movies in theatres a federal crime; and allowing certain works vulnerable to copyright infringement special "pre-registration" rights and thus access to previously unavailable statutory remedies.
The Family Movie Act of 2005
This Act arose from the litigation sparked by the development of several family oriented companies that created technology to sanitize violence and sex from films for private home viewing. ClearPlay is one such company. Its sanitization technology consists of software that does not actually alter or reproduce the films, but rather instructs the user's DVD player to fast-forward or mute through sensitive scenes. ClearPlay's competitor, Clean Flicks actually makes an edited copy of the original film.
The new Act will allow for ClearPlay types of sanitation technologies, but not for Clean Flicks' methods. The Act reads that no copyright infringement occurs when "limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture" are made "imperceptible" for home viewing, but only so long as "no fixed copy of the altered version" is created. Additionally the Act amends the Trademark Act to eliminate any potential liability under Trademark law, so long as viewers are notified that they are watching an altered version of the film.
The Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005 (ART Act)
It's been estimated that the movie industry loses 3.5 billion annually due to hard-goods piracy, one source of which is the camcording of first-run movies in theatres and conversion into DVD's or online downloads. The ART Act notes that in making camcording a federal crime, the Act complements rather than preempts existing state laws. Thus the Act will serve to empower theatre personnel with the authority to detain and question individuals whom they reasonably believe are camcording a movie, and to immunize theatres against potential suits that might arise from the suspect's detention.
While registration is not required for copyright protection, it does give registrants valuable statutory remedies such as attorney's fees and statutory damages so long as registration has occurred prior to the infringement. Typically this works well as most works are not vulnerable to infringement prior to their public release. However, Congress has acknowledged that some works are more vulnerable to pre-release infringement and that the Copyright Office may give such works "pre-registration" status. Such status will allow a copyright owner access to statutory remedies even if infringement occurs prior to its public release and actual registration.
Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005, S.167 (109th Cong., 1st Sess. 2005), available at as a PDF file.
"SCREEN DOOR JESUS" SECURES NORTH AMERICAN DISTRIBUTION
Congratulations to our client, Sam Adelman. His film, "Screen Door Jesus" will be distributed domestically by Indican Pictures.
"Screen Door Jesus," a story about the mysterious appearance of an image of Jesus on a screen door, won accolades at the Hamptons and South by Southwest film festivals in 2003.
The Hollywood Reporter has the scoop.
The official movie site is at www.screendoorjesusthemovie.com.
"BRISTOL BOYS" FILMMAKER AWARDED DIGITAL FILMMAKER'S GRANT
Our client, Brandon Cole, received the Panasonic Digital Filmmaker's Grant to shoot his motion picture, "Bristol Boys." Panasonic conducted an interview with Brandon, which is available on Panasonic's website.
MARK IN THE MEDIA
Confused about movie titles? "Slate" magazine has published an article about title confusion and quotes Mark.
SAG Indie has published an in-depth interview with Mark. It's available at www.sagindie.org/spotlight.html.
COPYRIGHT & DISCLAIMER
Mark Litwak & Associates grants newsletter recipients permission to copy and distribute this newsletter and distribute it free of charge, provided that copies are distributed for educational and non-profit use, no changes or revisions are made, all copies clearly attribute the article to its author and include its copyright notice.
DISCLAIMER: While we are careful in preparing this newsletter, readers should consult with a lawyer before relying on any information. Case law and statutes are subject to change, and may not apply in all jurisdictions.
Copyright 2005, Mark Litwak