Thursday, November 30, 2006


The line up for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival has been announced and we are pleased that seven of our clients have had their films selected:

Writer/Director Craig Brewer whose film “Hustle & Flow” was a big hit at Sundance two years ago, returns with “Black Snake Moan” starring Samuel Jackson, Justin Timberlake and Christina Ricci. Desire is a burning sickness for Rae, while making her the white-trash sexual target of every man and boy in her small Tennessee town. When her true love leaves for military service, Rae plunges into wild excess. Beaten and left for dead, she is taken in by a reformed bluesman, a private self-contained black man who nurses a deep anger of his own and who is fiercely committed to his task of keeping her alive. World Premiere.

“The Ten” produced by Jon Stern is comprised of ten stories, each inspired by one of The Ten Commandments, that illustrate the perils of modern life via extreme comedy. World Premiere.

“Padre Nuestro” produced by Ben Odell will be shown in Dramatic Competition. Fleeing a criminal past, Juan hops a truck transporting illegal immigrants from Mexico to New York City, where he meets Pedro, who is seeking his rich father. World Premiere.

“Expired” / U.S.A. by Director and Screenwriter Cecilia Miniucchi and producer Anthony Stutz: When a lonely, gentle meter maid meets a troubled fellow parking officer, their love affair becomes an awkward dance of attraction and antagonism. World Premiere.

“Fido” / Canada by Producers Blake Corbett and Mary Anne Waterhouse will be shown in the Park City at Midnight section. This zombie dog movie is about a six-foot tall zombie named Fido who eats the next-door neighbor. It is a boy-and-his-dog movie for grown ups.The film will be distributed by Lion’s Gate. Park City at Midnight . U.S Premiere.


According to the FCC, the Jay Leno's interview with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on the "Tonight Show" was exempt from the equal time rule because it was a bona fide news segment. A FCC complaint was filed by the Angelides for Governor Campaign on behalf of Phil Angelides, the Democratic candidate for Governor of California, against eleven television stations. The Angelides campaign alleged that he was entitled to equal opportunities from the stations pursuant to Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1934. If a station allows a legally qualified candidate for public office to use a broadcast station, it must afford equal opportunities to other such candidates for that office to use its facilities. But there is an exception to this rule: appearances by legally qualified candidates on bona fide news programs.

While the Tonight Show is clearly more of an entertainment oriented program, than a typical newscast, it often airs newsworthy interviews. When adopting these exemptions, Congress indicated that, to qualify as a bona fide news interview program, a program must be regularly scheduled; the content, format, and participants must be determined by the licensee; and the determination that programming is a bona fide news interview must have been made by the station “in the exercise of its bona fide news judgment and not for the political advantage of the candidate for political office.”

Although Congress did not define “news” when adopting these exemptions, the Commission has found that interviews with elected officials and candidates for elected office are newsworthy subject matter. The FCC concluded that the interview segments of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” qualify for the bona fide news interview exemption and are therefore exempt from equal opportunities. In the Matter of Equal Opportunities Complaint Filed by Angelides for Governor Campaign, Federal Communications Commission Order (Oct. 26, 2006)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


UCLA, Risky Business. October 28 and 29.

All day Saturday, half day Sunday. X 403.22 Management, Reg# S2964U
This comprehensive seminar explores how independent films are financed and distributed. Topics include organizing your company, raising financing via pre-sales, debt and limited partnerships, negotiating tactics, principal terms of the acquisition/distribution agreement, cross-collateralization and creative accounting. How filmmakers can protect their interest by watering down warranties, getting added to the E & O policy, using lab access letters to retain possession of the negatives, and utilizing termination and arbitration clauses. Other topics include:

- Criteria for selection of a distributor
- Collaborations and co-productions
- Building interest with film festivals
- How distributors evaluate a film
- Orchestrating the release of your film
- Compliance with security laws when seeking investors

Registration and General Information
(310) 825-9971 or (818) 784-7006

University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii. November 18 & 19.

Saturday, Self Defense for Writers and Filmmakers. Sunday, Financing and Distributing Independent Features. Call 808-956-8400 to register. More info:

Film Business & Law Seminar, California Lawyers for the Arts at Loyola Law School. September 30, 2006.

Mark will give the keynote address on finding distribution for independent films. Seminar is on Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM. Fee includes breakfast and seminar handbook. Lawyers can obtain MCLE credit. To enroll call (310) 998-5590.

FTX West Film & Television Expo, Vancouver, Canada, October 12-15.

This Trade Show and Conference will be held in the world-class Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre and consist of 106 booths and over 65 exhibitors from across North America. There will be an estimated 5000 attendees expected during the event, gathering from across North America to see the latest and greatest technologies in the film, television and gaming industries. Mark will be teaching several classes:
Risky Business, Part 1, Financing 1 – 3 PM, and Risky Business Part 2, Distribution, 5:30 to 7:30 PM. October 13, 2006. See description below.

Self Defense for Writer's & Filmmakers, 9 to 1 PM, October 14, 2006. 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. 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 negotiat-ing tactics and strategies. The seminar includes more than 100 pages of useful contracts, checklists, forms and materials.


Congratulations to our client The Retirement Living Network on their launch. The channel is available M-F from 12-4pm in over 1,500 communities served by Comcast Mid-Atlantic and New England.

Retirement Living has programs on health, lifestyle, finance, and politics including: The Daily Apple explores the important wellness issues. The Art of Living celebrates ordinary people from around the country who are living extraordinary lives doing what they love to do. The Prudent Advisor informs viewers how to get the most for your money, in everything from health care to travel deals to beauty aids. The Informed Citizen recognizes that retirees are the most active citizens when it comes to involvement in the political process. Healthline is a thirty-minute health and medical program equips you with the tools you need to take better control of your own health care.


Congratulations to our client Stephen Purvis, whose film EL CORTEZ opens in NY and LA, followed by exclusive engagements in each city.

New York
Harlem International Film Festival - World Premiere
"El Cortez" Red Carpet: 7pm Thursday, October 5, 2006
at AMC Magic Johnson Theatre at 125th & Frederick Douglass Blvd. (8th Ave.)

EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT - Opens Friday, October 6, 2006
34 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011

Los Angeles
ACT TODAY! (Autism Care & Treatment Today!) BENEFIT Premiere
6pm Saturday, October 14, 2006
Pacific Design Center - SilverScreen Theatre
8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069

EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT - Opens Friday, October 20, 2006
9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211

You can view a trailer at

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Screenwriter loses implied contract suit against Miramax

Miramax has prevailed in an implied contract case filed by screenwriter Jeff Grosso concerning the Miramax movie “Rounders” which Grasso claimed copied ideas from his script.

The case was first dismissed when a federal District Court ruled that Grosso’s contract claim was preempted by federal copyright law. But this decision was overturned by a federal Court of Appeals which held that an implied contract claim is not preempted.

The California Superior Court granted summary judgment to Miramax on the grounds that Grosso did not submit the script to Miramax to Gotham Entertainment Group which was not a defendant in the lawsuit.

The court rejected Grosso’s claim based on a “First Look/Last Matching Right” deal between Gotham and Miramax.

Grosso v. Miramax Film Corp., Case No. BC215947 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2006) (read case at


Congratulations to our client Phil Nibbelink whose animated family film, Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss opens on October 27, 2006 on numerous screens. In the Los Angeles region the film will be shown at such theaters as AMC Burbank 16, Beverly Center 13 Cinemas, Culver Plaza 6, Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15, Mann's Plant 16, Regal Valencia Stadium 12, UA La Canada 8, Civic Center Stadium 16, and the AMC Ontario Mills 30. The film will be shown on 5 different screens in SAN DIEGO and 5 screens in SAN FRANCISCO.

The picture is being released by Indican Pictures. Additional information and the trailer can be viewed at:

“Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss” is a fantasy about two star crossed seals from warring families that fall in love against their parents’ wishes. When Juliet’s father gives her hand in marriage to the monstrous elephant seal Prince, Juliet must fake her death in order to be reunited with Romeo. But the plan goes afoul and it’s a desperate race to the end. With the help of their friends Friar Lawrence and Kissy, the kissing fish, the young lovers are reunited with a happy ending. The picture was written, directed and animated by Phil Nibbelink who has been a writer, director and animator on numerous films including The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, Oliver & Company, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Casper and An American Tail-Fievel Goes West.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Congress passes the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005

Congress has amended the Federal Communications Act, in response to the super bowl “wardrobe malfunction” of Janet Jackson that caused such controversy.
Congress amplified the penalties for “indecent” broadcasts to $325,000 per violation up to a ceiling of $3 million “for any single act.” Penalties are assessed by the FCC. Previously, the most the FCC was empowered to assess for indecent broadcasts was $32,500 per violation.

Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005, P.L. 109-235 (2006), available at

Video-gamer Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard Records do not infringe one another’s trademarks.

Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard Records can both employ the “Blizzard” trademark; even though they are not related companies and both market recorded music.

The case concerned which company first used the “Blizzard” mark for the sale of music. Blizzard Records began using the mark in 1986 – predating Blizzard Entertainment use. The court found that the record company had abandoned the mark in 1987 and didn’t begin using it again until 1999.

The Blizzard Entertainment computer game company registered the “Blizzard” mark in 1994, but only for computer and video games. However, in 1995, the computer company began selling recordings of the music from its game soundtracks, using the “Blizzard” mark.

Since Blizzard Entertainment used the mark for music before Blizzard Records did, Blizzard Entertainment’s use of the mark did not violate any trademark rights of Blizzard Records.

And Blizzard Records’ use of the mark to sell music did not infringe Blizzard Entertainment’s trademark rights because Blizzard Entertainment introduced evidence that its customers were not likely to be confused about the source of recordings bearing the mark.

Mele v. Davidson & Associates, Inc., 2006 WL 1644693, 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 39054 (W.D.N.Y. 2006)

The Path To 9/11 Premieres On ABC September 10 & 11.

Congratulations to our client David Cunningham who directed the multi part film –on the events leading up to 9/11. It is told from the CIA, FBI, White House and terrorists perspective and based upon the 9/11 Commission Report.
It stars Harvey Keitel, Patricia Heaton, Donnie Whalberg and a top notch cast of 250 actors from 14 countries. It was filmed in Toronto, Morocco, New York, Washington D.C., and one of only a few films ever to be allowed to film at the CIA headquarters at Langley.

Time Magazine says: " Fast paced and shot with handheld cameras, 'Path' plays like a somber, dysfunctional '24,' with all the grit. Executive producer Marc Platt hired director David L. Cunningham a documentary veteran, to give the movie a verite look, without emotional tricks like zooming in on fraught moments. …The last few minutes—inside the planes, the towers and the conference rooms on 9/11—are tastefully handled, though no less chilling. But they're beside the point. What matters is what happened before and what happened—and didn't afterward. An epilogue notes the commission's report card, issued last December, which found that most of its recommendations—securing weapons of mass destruction, delegating antiterrorism funds by risk—have been carried out badly or not at all. That endnote is the scariest thing in the miniseries."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer office had investigated and found that EMI (which includes Virgin Records and Capitol Records), had illegally provided financial benefits to obtain airplay by giving radio station employees concert tickets, hotel and airfare and other benefits. EMI had allegedly used independent promoters to make the payments which benefited such artists as the Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Norah Jones.

As part of the settlement, EMI agreed to end its practice of paying radio stations or their employees for airplay. It also agreed to stop using independent promoters for this purpose. Moreover, the company agreed to hire a compliance officer to monitor the company’s promotion practices, and agreed to pay $3.75 million to New York State not-for-profit entities to fund music education and appreciation programs.

The Attorney General’s investigation of payola in the music industry resulted in earlier settlements with Sony BMG, Warner and Universal.
The settlement agreement is available on the Internet


Congratulations to our clients Blake Corbett and Mary Anne Waterhouse whose film “Fido” will premiere at this fall’s Toronto International Film Festival. The feature will be the opening film of Canada First! Section. This zombie dog movie is about a six-foot tall zombie named Fido who eats the next-door neighbor. It is a boy-and-his-dog movie for grown ups, "FIDO" will rip your heart out. The film will be distributed by Lion’s Gate.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Visionscape Interactive Wins Arbitration Award

We are pleased to have won a 1.199 million dollar award for our client software developer Visionscape Interactive, Inc. (VSI) which is based in San Diego. Mark Litwak represented VSI in a three day AAA arbitration hearing in Phoenix, Arizona in March. The award was against Oteeva, Inc., a videogame publisher, and several affiliated parties.

The arbitrator found that Oteeva, breached its agreement VSI when it defaulted by not making a milestone payment due VSI. Oteeva also defaulted on its obligations by misleading VSI to think that Oteeva had begun the process of obtaining approval from Sony for a videogame designed for the PS2 platform, and by engaging in a variety of fraudulent practices and business dealings including misrepresenting to other publishers that it had the rights to the game after its rights had been terminated.

VSI is a respected software developer that has worked with Sony Computer Entertainment of America, Sony Online, various divisions of Sony, Electronic Arts, Sega, Activision, Atari, Crave, THQ, Interplay, and Microsoft.

Arizona and New Mexico Adopt Tax Incentives

Arizona offers filmmakers a credit against income taxes. To qualify, at least 25% of the filmmaker’s employees need to be Arizona residents. The requirement will increase to 35% in 2007, and 50% in 2008.

A motion picture production company is eligible for incentives upon compliance with requirements in A.R.S. §41-1517 if it is primarily engaged in the business of producing motion pictures, has an office and bank account in Arizona, invests at least $250,000 in qualifying production costs, employs the required percentage of Arizona residents and is not obscene, does not depict sexual activity or sexually exploit a minor.

Additional information can be found at:

New Mexico offers producers a 25% film production tax rebate on all production expenditures (including labor) that are subject to taxation by the State of New Mexico. This is a refund, not a credit. The state also offers a 0% loan for up to $15 million per project, (which can represent 100% of the budget) for qualifying feature films or television projects. Terms are negotiated and budget must be at least $1 million.

Additional information at:

USA Cable’s Sherlock Holmes TV Movie Did Not Infringe Copyright

USA has been vindicated in a copyright and trademark suit brought against it by Pannonia Farms, Inc. Pannonia claimed ownership of the Sherlock Holmes and Watson Characters originally created by Sir Arthur Canon Doyle. Pannonia Farms, Inc. v. USA Cable, 426 F. 3d 650 (2nd Cir. 2005).



Internet movie services Movielink and rival CinemaNow have begun to provide permanent downloads of movies from major studios on the same day the titles are released on DVD.

Movielink offers titles from Universal, Warner Bros., MGM, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Paramount. Sony, MGM and Lionsgate offer their titles through CinemaNow.
Downloads will cost about the same as the price of a DVD with older releases selling at a reduced price.

Movielink and CinemaNow beat out Apple, Amazon and Google to become the first to offer permanent digital downloads in the U.S.
Movielink’s service includes recent releases such as Pride & Prejudice, King Kong and Rent. CinemaNow will launch with 75 films from Sony and MGM, including Memoirs of a Geisha, Bad Boys 2 and Easy Rider

With Movielink, users can transfer download copies to two other computers and burn a backup copy on a DVD. But the DVD will only be playable on a computer and not on a set-top DVD player.

Both services use Microsoft Window’s digital rights management technology.

NEW CONTRACT WEBSITE LAUNCHED is a new website with an extensive library of entertainment contracts that can be immediately downloaded, edited and used. Template contracts are sent over the internet in Word, RTF and PDF formats. The product comes with a 100% money back guarantee. Go to:

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


We have filed suit on behalf of our client Black and White Films, Inc., the producer of the independent feature A Foreign Affair, starring David Arquette, Tim Blake Nelson and Emily Mortimer. Our suit was filed suit in California Superior Court against international sales distributor Myriad Pictures, Inc.

The suit alleges that Myriad failed to pay $110,000 of a $200,000 advance as required by the terms of its distribution agreement. According to the suit, Myriad also failed to pay $25,000 for a Hi-Def to film transfer, and breached the agreement by failing to provide the producer with quarterly accounting statements. The Plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $163,000 plus interest and punitive damages.

The motion picture (released on home video as 2 Brothers & a Bride) was the debut feature of director Helmut Schleppi, and was written by Geert Heetebrij and follows two naive brothers from small-town America (Arquette, Nelson) who, after their doting mother passes away, travel to Russia as part of a singles program, hoping to find a traditionally minded woman like their mom. The film premiered at the January 2003 Sundance Film Festival and was also shown at the May 2003 Cannes Film Market. The film was released theatrically in the United States in May 2004.

"We completed delivery of the Picture to Myriad in April 2004, at which time the balance of the advance was due," according to Geert Heetebrij the writer/producer of the picture. "Myriad's excuse for their failure to pay us has been that they are having cash flow problems."

Mark Litwak, attorney for the Plaintiff said, "Despite repeated requests over almost two years, Myriad has refused to live up to its contractual obligations, leaving the Plaintiff no choice but to file this suit."

Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School opens on March 31, 2006

Congratulations to our clients Art Klein and Eileen Craft, producers of Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School which will open in more than 50 cities on March 31, 2006. A Sundance film festival favorite, the film is being distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

The film stars Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, Mary Steenburgen, Sean Astin, Donnie Wahlberg, David Paymer, Sonia Braga, Ernie Hudson, Danny DeVito and John Goodman.

for more details on the movie, and to see a trailer.

DeNadie Wins Mexican Academy Award

Congratulations to our client, Tin Dirdamal, whose film DeNadie won the Mexican Academy Award for best documentary.

The film also won the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

The film follows immigrants from South America as they traverse Mexico on a dangerous journey to try to reach the Promised Land, the United States. While there have been films that have explored the poor treatment and abuse of Mexican immigrants in the United States, this is the first film I have seen that has shown how immigrants from Honduras and Guatemala are robbed and beaten by both vicious Mexican gangs and the police.

Read more about the award at:

Read more about the film at:

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Product Placement Article in Delaware Lawyer

Mark has written an in-depth article about product placement in this month’s Delaware Lawyer magazine.

What do the blockbuster movies “Star Wars” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” have in common with television shows such as “American Idol?” They are classic examples of product placement – the practice of advertisers inserting their products in movies and television shows in order to build brand awareness and increase sales. The product placement market is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 14.9% from 2004 to 2009, reaching an estimated $6.94 billion.

By tying licensing and merchandising opportunities directly into movies and TV shows, product placement blurs the line between entertainment and advertising. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish commercial speech (i.e., speech that proposes a commercial transaction) from non-commercial speech (i.e., speech with artistic or political content).

Traditionally courts have extended greater protection to non-commercial speech, although restrictions on commercial speech may be invalidated if they unconstitutionally limit dissemination of information to the public. This article explores the legal implications of the increasingly intertwined relationship between advertising and entertainment.

To read the full article, go to:


Mark will be bringing his one day Risky Business seminar to Dallas on April 8 at Southern Methodist University.

Those who attend this comprehensive all day seminar will learn how independent films are financed and distributed. Topics include organizing your company, raising financing via pre-sales, debt and limited partnerships, negotiating tactics, principal terms of the acquisition/distribution agreement, cross-collateralization and creative accounting. Particular attention is paid to how producers and filmmakers can protect their interests by watering down warranties, getting added to the E& O policy, using lab access letter to retain possession of the negative, and utilizing termination and arbitration clauses.

This seminar is being organized by Random Order Entertainment and is co-sponsored by the Dallas Producers Association, Indie Slate magazine, MLD Equipment, MPS Studios, Texas Association of Film/Tape Professionals (TAFTP) and Women in Film - Dallas.

The cost to attend the seminar is $99, $65 for students and $79 for DPA, TAFTP and WIF members. For more info go to:


Congratulations to our clients whose films were selected for the upcoming Method Fest film festival. This year three clients have had their films selected to show at Method Fest.

The 8th annual The Method Fest independent film festival will take place March 31 - April 7 in Calabasas. The Method Fest is the only film festival in America that puts its focus on the actor. The Method Fest is a festival of discovery, seeking story-driven films showcasing breakout acting performances by emerging stars and career-defining roles by established actors.

Our clients’ films are:


Director: Stefan Schaefer
Writer: Stefan Schaefer
Producer: Benjamin Odell, Jonathan Stern
Starring: Eugene Byrd, Ali Larter, Melissa Leo, Glenn Fitzgerald, William Sadler

CONFESS charts the exploits of disillusioned ex-hacker Terell Lessor (Eugene Byrd). Employing strategically placed spy-cams, he captures compromising footage of those who slighted him in the past, broadcasting edits via the internet. Recognizing the power of this model, and working in tandem with accomplice Olivia (Ali Larter), he targets CEOs, politicians, and members of the power elite. Soon Terell's every action is front-page news, law enforcement has labeled him a new breed of terrorist, and the movement he spawned is spiraling out of control.


USA, 104 MIN
Director: Jamin Winans
Writer: Jamin Winans
Producer: Joe Sekiya

Starring: Raymond Andrew Bailey, Laura Fuller, Megan Heffernan, Liz Cunningham, Chris Kelly, Hayz II, Rosa Vasquez

A jaded news photojournalist, Aaaron Dougherty, has just broken the national news story of the year. After suddenly waking up in a field in the middle of nowhere, with no recollection of the past 24 hours, Aaron is forced to reexamine his life before understanding the mysterious events of his lost time.

The Way Back Home

USA, 93 MIN,
Director: Reza Badiyi
Writer: Michael Houston King
Producer: Michael Houston King, Paul Sirmons
Starring: Michael Houston King, Julie Harris, Tessie Santiago, Ruby Dee, Danny Nucci, Deezer D, Amy Landers

Spencer Krane has it all, the great job, the model wife, the great NY lifestyle. But after the sudden death of his wife he returns to a small southern town to take care of his grandmother who has suffered a stroke. Over the course of a summer back home in this small Florida town he reevaluates his life and develops a sense of hope for his future.

The film schedule and additional information is available at:

Monday, February 20, 2006

District Court Does Not Allow Punitive Damages for Copyright Infringement

Courts have expressed different views on whether punitive damages are available in copyright infringement actions.

One case concerned the band DADA whch released a single, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” in 1992. Some years later, Sofa Express used an advertising jingle called “Here Today, Home Tomorrow.” The band sued Sofa Express for copyright infringement and requested punitive damages.

Two recent cases in the Southern District of New York allowed punitive damages to be awarded in copyright infringement cases if willful and malicious infringement is proven and if the copyright owner is barred from receiving statutory damages. However, the DADA case is notable because the Federal District Court refused to let the band collect punitive damages.

The Court based its ruling on the language of the Copyright Act which does not expressly mention punitive damages. Although the case conflicts with other cases decided in the Southern District, this court sided with the prevailing case law nationwide in interpreting the statutory language to not allow punitive damages. The Court did indicate that the Copyright Act does allow for increased statutory damages in case of willful infringement.

Calio v. Sofa Express, Inc. 368 F.Supp.2d 1290 (M.D.Fla., 2005).

Congratulations to our clients:

Producer Hal Schwartz whose film Crazy Love received nationwide distribution on the Lifetime Network on Valentine's day.

Craig Brewer, writer-director of Hustle & Flow, on his picture earning 2 Acadamy award nominations: Best Actor for Terrence Howard and Best Original Song for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp."

Filmmaker Sherman Lau whose feature Zooey will appear in Cinequest Film Festival on March 9 and 10. Zooey won a Viewer's Voice Award on the festival's Web site.

Filmmaker Jamin Winans whose feature motion picure "11:59" opens for a two week run in Denver at Starz FilmCenter at the Tivoli. The film is rated PG-13 and stars Raymond Andrew Bailey, Liz Cunningham, Laura Fuller and Chris Kelly. |

Mark to speak on the Use of Tax Incentives to Fund Movies on March 22, 2006

Mark will be speaking on a panel on the subjeect of "Funding Tinseltown, The Next Generation of Tax-Motivated Indie Financing" on March 22, 2006. The public forum is sponsored by the Entertainment, Media, Intellectual Property and Sports Law Section of New York County Lawyer's Association. It will be held at 14 Vesey Street in New York City.

For additional information: or call 212 267.6646.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

DeNadie Wins Sundance Audience Award

Congratulations to our client, Tin Dirdamal, whose film DeNadie won the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at Sundance.

The film follows immigrants from South America as they traverse Mexico on a dangerous journey to try to reach the Promised Land, the United States. While there have been films that have explored the poor treatment and abuse of Mexican immigrants in the United States, this is the first film I have seen that has shown how immigrants from Honduras and Guatemala are robbed and beaten by both vicious Mexican gangs and the police.

Sundance programmer Joseph Beyer has said: “First-time filmmaker Tin Dirdamal displays moving photographic grace and sophisticated understanding of his subjects as he follows their search for the sustenance their native countries can't provide. These personal stories force deeper understanding of the United States' border crisis, while exposing hypocrisies in a Mexican culture faced with equally uncomfortable intolerance of its own. All this from a film that doesn't take political stances; it merely brings us the voices of those affected, the results of which are far louder.”

Read more about the film at:

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Here are some great websites you may find useful which fills out forms for you for free and remembers your passwords. The free version of the program holds 30 passwords and allows multiple identities.

Reverse dictionary. also check out A traditional on line dictionary.

A Prairie Home Companion. Listen to all the old shows on your computer:

SAG Indie: Read about the new low budget agreements for employing actors.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Federal Court Affirms that National Geographic May Republish Works by Photographers Digitally without Consent

Federal Court of Appeals Affirms Ruling That National Geographic May Republish Works by Freelance Photographers and Journalists w Digital Formatithout Consent in Many freelance photographers and journalists contributed to the National Geographic Magazine over its history. Most did not specifically license the magazine to republish their work on a recent CD-ROM and DVD entitled “The Complete National Geographic: 108 Years of National Geographic Magazine.”The Federal District Court ruled in the magazine’s favor and the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision on copyright infringement claims filed by photographers and journalists.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the digital versions were a privileged “revision” of the works published in the printed magazines. The Copyright Act allows publishers of collective works a privilege to republish any contributions to the collective work as part of a revision of the collective work. The Court gave two reasons why it considered the revision privileged in this case. First, the Court pointed out that “the original context of the magazine is omnipresent” in the digital versions. Second, the digital versions consist of an “almost” identical presentation of the original magazines. An unprivileged revision, on the other hand, “precludes the reader from viewing the underlying works in their original context.”

The Court ruled against the journalists and photographers on their contractual claim. Though the contracts did not specifically authorize the republishing of the work, the Court concluded that the journalists and photographers had an affirmative obligation to specify in the contracts that their work not be republished in digital format, if that is what they sought.

Faulkner v. National Geographic Society, 409 F.3d.S 26, 2005 U.S.App.LEXIS 3642 (2nd Cir. 2005).

Hustle & Flow Nominated For Numerous Awards And Now Released on DVD

Congratulations to our client writer/director Craig Brewer on the DVD release of his award winning film Hustle & Flow. After earning more than 22 million at the box office, 600,000 copies flew off the shelves in the first week of its home video release, exceeding all expectations.

Actor Terrence Howard received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance, a nomination for the Breakthrough Award at the Gotham Awards, and Best Male lead for the Independent Spirit Awards. The cast was honored with a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast at the SAG awards, and the film won the Audience Award at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Perhaps most impressive, Ain’t It Cool News Harry Knowles named Hustle and Flow as simply the Best Film of the Year. Ain't It Cool News:

MGM and Universal Find Out That They Must Comply with Every Detail of the Red Tape Associated with Filing Satellite and Cable TV Royalty Claims with the U.S. Copyright Office

MGM and Universal Studios lost a copyright suit over some stamps.

U.S. Copyright regulations require that cable and satellite TV royalty claims be filed each year in the month of July. Claims can be filed so that they are delivered by July 31st or they can be postmarked during July. However, the regulations specifically provide that postage meter machine postmarks are not sufficient to establish a claim. MGM and Universal sent their claims out on July 30 using a Pitney-Bowes postage machine. The Copyright office received the claims on August 2nd or 3rd and refused to accept them.

The studios went to court. MGM and Universal submitted uncontested affidavits from employees and the U.S. Postal Service itself in order to establish that the claims had been mailed in July. The Postal Service even confirmed that if the mail arrived by August 2nd or 3rd it had to have been mailed in July. Finally, affidavits (also uncontested) were submitted showing that there is no possible way for the postage meter machines to print a backdated postmark.

MGM and Universal argued that the rejection of the claims violated the Copyright Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and denied them their Constitutional right to due process. The District Court dismissed the case and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals ruled that the Copyright Office had not misinterpreted its rule, due process had not been denied and the refusal to waive the requirement was not arbitrary nor capricious.

Universal City Studios v. Peters, 402 F.3d 1238, 2005 U.S.App.LEXIS 5664 (D.C.Cir. 2005).