Monday, September 30, 2002

Supreme Court to Review Challenge to Copyright Term Extension Act

September 30, 2002

Supreme Court to Review Challenge to Copyright Term Extension Act

On October 9, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments that will determine the constitutionality of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.

The Act, effective since 1998, extends the length of time an author can retain copyright to their work. Petitioners in the Supreme Court case are challenging the Act, calling it an unconstitutional exercise of congressional power that violates the First Amendment and unduly burdens those who seek to create new works based on old ones. They are hoping the Court will strike down the Act and potentially prevent Congress from further extending the length of time a work may be copyrighted.

The government argues that it has the constitutional right to determine the length of both new and existing copyrights and does not violate the First Amendment.
For more on Eldred v. Ashcroft, see

Internet Entertainment Company Sues Movie StudiosA Web-based video-on-demand company has filed an anti-trust suit against three major movies studios, alleging that the studios are conspiring to kill their online competition.
While the complaint, filed by Culver City-based Intertainer, Inc., accuses AOL Time Warner, Sony, and Vivendi Universal of working together to fix pricing for content on demand, the heart of the suit lies in the question of who will control direct-to-viewer digital distribution.

Last year, the three studios had announced they were joining forces to form Movielink, an Internet video-on-demand service that directly competes with Intertainer.
Intertainer, Inc.
Movielink the Intertainer Complaint (PDF file)

Friday, September 13, 2002

Lucasfilm Can’t Block Pornographic “Star Wars” Parody

September 13, 2002

Lucasfilm Can’t Block Pornographic “Star Wars” Parody

In a brief decision, U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken thwarted Lucasfilm Ltd.’s attempt to block distribution of an animated, pornographic parody of “Star Wars.”
Lucasfilm had tried for a preliminary injunction against Media Market Group, producer or distributor of the porn parody “Starballz,” claming trademark dilution, copyright infringement and trademark infringement.

While the judge said the film “tarnishes the Star Wars family of marks by associating them with a pornographic film that is inconsistent with the image Star Wars has striven to maintain for itself,” she noted that because the film is a parody, Lucasfilm failed to prove that it was likely to succeed on any of its claims.

FTC Warns Web Search Engines to Make Sponsorships Clear
Wonder why some websites are always tops on the hit list?
The Federal Trade Commission has been wondering the same thing and has issued a recommendation that all search engines clearly show which companies have paid for positioning.

Prompted by a complaint letter filed by an anti-commercialism organization, the F.T.C. conducted an investigation into whether search engine companies misled its users by quietly inserting advertisements into search results.

The F.T.C. determined that while most search engines usually distinguish paid advertisements from unpaid listings, the disclosures were not sufficiently clear in some cases.

“As a general matter, clear and conspicuous disclosures would put consumers in a position to better determine the importance of these (paid inclusion) practices in their choice of search engines to use,” the F.T.C. wrote.
For the complete FTC response, see For the letter sent to the search engine companies, see

25 New Faces
Congratulations to Craig Brewer for the distinction of being named one of the “25 New Faces of Indie Film” in the summer issue of Filmmaker Magazine. Craig’s low budget feature, “The Poor and Hungry” is a love story between a car thief and a cello player set in Memphis, Tennessee. The film has been shown on the Independent Film Channel.
August 6, 2002

Film Finders Offers Free Listings

Film Finders, a 15 year-old feature film tracking service and database for distributors seeking to buy films and also for film festivals for their programming purposes wants to list your feature for free! They will also grant you temporary free access to their website which lists all world companies currently buying and selling films plus all films currently available in the world markets. Lastly, they provide unique consulting services especially designed for independent producers and will send you info describing these services. Contact: Go to

Court Declines To Dismiss Lawsuit Against Publisher Of “Hit Man.”
Generally, publishers are well protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free expression. But when Paladin Enterprises, published the book “Hit Man, A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors” it may have gone too far. A hit man allegedly attempted to murder plaintiff Bobby Joe Wilson in accordance with the book’s instructions. While the attempted murder failed, the victim and her son were injured. They sued the publisher for aiding, abetting and conspiring to commit assault and battery. The publisher asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. Federal Magistrate Thomas Coffin rejected the publisher’s First Amendment defense citing the prior case of Rice v. Paladin Enterprises which concerned another lawsuit against the same publisher arising from another reader’s criminal actions. Wilson v. Paladin Enterprises, 186 F. Supp.2d 1140, 2001 U.S. Dist.LEXIS 23661 (D.Or.2001).