Monday, March 03, 2008

Tolkein Trust Sues New Line Cinema Over “Lord of the Rings” Profits

The trust that manages the estate of J.R.R. Tolkein, the author of the massively popular trilogy, has not received any profits from New Line Cinema, the distributor of the three films which have grossed nearly $6 billion.

The suit claims that New Line has engaged in various “bookkeeping” practices in order to avoid paying the trust and other gross revenue participants, including director Peter Jackson.

According to the lawsuit, a series of 1969 agreements granted the underlying rights to the books to United Artists in exchange for 7.5% of the gross receipts of any films based on the works. New Line subsequently acquired the rights.

The suits asks for over $150 million in damages and other remedies for breach of contract.

Judge Reverses Decision In Regard To Restraining Website

Website Wikileaks: ( blows the whistle by exposing corporate and government wrongdoing. It focuses mainly on oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. The site was completely shut down when Judge Jeffrey S. White ordered that the entire site be taken offline. The site allowed whistleblowers to disclose sensitive documents without them being traced back to their source. It has received more than 1.2 million documents from dissident communities and anonymous sources.

The judge completely reversed himself, however, after several organizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, The Associated Press and the ACLU filed briefs contending that such an order was an unlawful prior restraint.

The Feb. 15 order required the required domain name service provider stop all access to the Wikileaks site, disabling its Web address. A Swiss bank had asked the court to require the site to be taken down on the grounds that it had disclosed private banking records. The site was allowed to resume when the judge dissolved his previous order.

The media coalition's brief in the case can be found at:
State Bar Conference

Mark Litwak will be moderating a panel at a one-day conference entitled "Intellectual Property In Entertainment & Media" put on by the California Bar Intellectual Property Section on March 25th at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Self Defense for Writers and Filmmakers Comes to New York April 26, 2008

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts is sponsoring a one day seminar with Mark Litwak on Saturday, April 26, 2008: 10 am – 5 pm in Manhattan.

Writers and filmmakers need to understand their legal rights and how to defend themselves from those who may seek to exploit them. Production companies and distributors often know all the tricks of the trade, while writers and filmmakers know little about how to protect themselves.

This seminar explains how writers and filmmakers can prevent problems from arising by properly securing underlying rights, and by encouraging the other party to live up to agreements by adding performance incentives, default penalties and arbitration clauses. Participants learn what remedies are available to enforce their rights in the event of a dispute.

Related topics include creative approvals, typical compensation and terms of studio contracts, merchandising deals, and negotiating tactics and strategies. The seminar includes more than 100 pages of useful contracts, checklists, forms and materials.

Speaker: Mark Litwak is a veteran entertainment attorney with offices in Beverly Hills, California. His practice includes work in the areas of copyright, trademark, contract, multimedia law, intellectual property, and book publishing. Litwak also functions as a Producer's Rep, assisting filmmakers in the financing, marketing and distribution of their films. For more information about Mark Litwak, please see

Lawyers can receive Eight (8) New York CLE "Areas of Professional Practice" credits.

Artists and Full-Time Students: $100 if registering on or before Friday, March 28th; $125 after March 28th.

Attorneys (including 8 CLE credits): $275 if registering on or before Friday, March 28th; $375 after March 28th.
To register, please complete the registration form at:

Since 1969, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts has been the leading provider of pro bono legal services, mediation services, educational programs and publications, and advocacy to the arts community in New York. The first arts-related legal aid organization, VLA is the model for similar organizations around the world. For more information about Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, please see