Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Lawsuit Filed Against Producer Who Captured Women Baring Their Bodies in Public

April 30, 2002

Lawsuit Filed Against Producer Who Captured Women Baring Their Bodies in Public

A Florida State University student is suing a producer who videotaped her as she exposed her breasts in public on Bourbon Street in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. The footage was included in the production “Girls Gone Wild,” with the woman’s image also put on videocassette covers. The motion picture features women exposing their bodies at Mardi Gras, Spring Break and other events. The plaintiff claimed the producer invaded her privacy and used her image without her consent. The defendant replies that the breast-baring video is a "newsworthy event," and protected under the First Amendment.
The student will have a difficult time winning on an invasion of privacy claim. Courts have held that people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in public places. In Gill v. Hearst Publishing, 40 Cal. 2d 224 (1953), the "Ladies Home Journal" published an unauthorized photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Gill in an affectionate pose at a confectionery and ice cream concession at the Farmer's Market in Los Angeles. The Gills were fully clothed and in open public view when a passing photographer snapped their picture without their consent. The photo was used in the magazine as an illustration of a type of "love at first sight," based solely on sexual attraction. Nothing in the article mentioned the Gills or their relationship B they were merely subjects in a stock photo bought to illustrate the story. The court found against the Gills, reasoning that if everyone had the right to stop publication of photos taken without their permission, no photo could ever be published of a street scene or a parade.

The more difficult issue to resolve is whether the “Girls Gone Wild” footage infringes the woman’s Right of Publicity. The Right of Publicity is the right everyone has to control the use of their name, likeness and image on commercial products. A manufacturer cannot put a person’s image on its brand of tomato sauce without that person’s permission. The Right of Publicity is typically exploited in the realm of commercials and endorsements. Some sports stars earn more from licensing their image than they make in salary.

However, when a person’s image is used on a product such as “Newsweek” magazine, the publisher’s rights to free expression under the First Amendment may conflict with the subject’s right to control the use of their name and likeness. In most of these cases, the First Amendment right of free expression has been considered the paramount right. California recognized this principle when enacting Civil Code section 3344 which prevents the use of people’s name and likeness on products and goods but exempts such uses in news, public affairs and sports broadcasts.

LANSDOWN Opens in New Jersey

Congratulations to our client, Tom Zuber, whose film Lansdown opened in New Jersey this past weekend and was the highest grossing film at Hillsborough Cinemas, out grossing movies such as Panic Room and The Scorpion King.
LANSDOWN has been lauded as "a wonderfully eccentric piece of independent film making.”

Critical acclaim for LANSDOWN:
"a well-paced, wryly offbeat noir" - The Boston Herald
"a winner" - Entertainment Today
"the first-time director cleverly blends an exciting mix of stylish dark humor, tense drama and a distinctive technique to tell his moody tale about infidelity" - The American Reporter
"Tom Zuber takes us on a sharp little walk on the dark side... D.W. Warren shows true comedic talent and timing." - Guerrilla Filmmaker
"[Lansdown] scores as a nifty normal-folk-doing-stupid-deadly-things comedy a la 'Fargo'... with Zuber and his cast of unknowns all earmarked as talents to watch." - Daily Variety
The Hillsborough Cinemas are located at 111 Raider Blvd., Belle Mead, NJ.
LANSDOWN will also be opening in New York City and Los Angeles later on this year. LANSDOWN is being distributed by Outrider Pictures. For more information on LANSDOWN visit www.lansdown.net.Starting Friday May 3rd Lansdown will also be playing at the Clearview Clairidge Cinemas at 486 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair, N.J.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002


April 24, 2002


This coming weekend (April 27 and 28, 2002) I will be teaching my UCLA extension class on Self-Defense for Filmmakers. This seminar explains how writers and filmmakers can prevent problems by properly securing underlying rights, and by encouraging other parties to live up to agreements by adding performance incentives, default penalties and arbitration clauses. In the event of a dispute, participants learn what remedies are available to enforce their rights.

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. MCLE credit available.

The class is held on Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM, and on Sunday from 9 AM to 12 PM in room 2250 in the Public Policy Building at the UCLA campus in Westwood.
To register for the class call UCLA at (310) 825-9971 or visit their website:www.uclaextension.org/entertainmentstudies

Wednesday, April 17, 2002


April 17, 2002


I will be teaching a new UCLA extension class this summer on Financing Independent Features and Negotiationg a Distribution Agreement.
This comprehensive seminar explores how independent films are financed and distributed. Topics include financing via pre-sales, debt and limited partnerships, negotiating tactics, typical contract terms, cross-collaterization and creative accounting. Particular attention is paid to how producers and filmmakers can protect themselves by watering down warranties, getting added to the E & O policy, using lab access letter to retain possession of their negative, and utilizing termination and arbitration clauses. The seminar includes a handout with a distribution contract, articles, self-defense checklist and other materials.
8.75 hours of MCLE credit available.
Reg# M7896BUCLA: Public Policy Bldg.Saturday, 10am-5pm,August 10Sunday, 9am-12pm,August 11

Monday, April 08, 2002

The Importance of an Assignment Clause

April 8, 2002

The Importance of an Assignment Clause

A recent case by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals makes clear why it is important to include an express provision allowing assignment when entering into an exclusive copyright license. The court held that a licensee cannot transfer its exclusive rights without the copyright owner’s consent.

The case concerned a cartoon character called AMC Teach, which was owned by Nike. Nike granted Sony an exclusive license to use the character in certain specified ways. The license did not address whether Sony could sub-license its rights. Sony subsequently transferred all its rights to a person who used the character on educational materials. Nike objected.

This case illustrates how important it is for production companies to obtain written consent to assign their rights when they license underlying works, such as books, scripts and music. Without an assignment clause permitting assignment, the production company may not be able to assign its rights to third parties. Moreover, if a production company goes bankrupt, its assets would include the right to distribute its productions. But if the rights to use the underlying works in those productions, such as music on the soundtrack, could not be assigned, then these motion pictures might be worthless. Gardner v. Nike, Inc., Download PDF

Craig Brewer wins Rockefeller Fellowship
Congratulations to our client writer/director Craig Brewer who has just been awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Media Art’s Fellowship. 22 Fellows were accepted this year. A list of the awards can be found at www.RockMediaFellows.org. The award comes with a stipend of $35,000. Craig’s The Poor & Hungry will be playing at the DGA theater on Thursday, May 9, 2002 at 7pm. The screening is open to the public.