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Photo by Kyle Head The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way many businesses operate—including performance venues and theaters. As most theaters have been shut down since March 2020 (Broadway is not scheduled to tentatively return until May 2021), artists and producers have been determined to find a workable solution to safely continue operations. One of the most popular options has been to stream live theatrical performances online, which would enable patrons to enjoy a show from the comfort and safety of their own homes. This solution, however, has called into question which of the two largest actors unions, Actors’ Equity Association
Photo by Markus Winkler Ever pop in an old VHS tape or DVD and wonder what the prominent “FBI WARNING” before the movie is really talking about (if you didn’t fast forward or just skip past it)? These warnings are not just meant to deter potential bootleggers and pirates, for infringing copyrighted material can carry some serious consequences and make even the most private of cinephiles into a criminal. But does the government really act on these warnings? They sure do. And the bar for criminal copyright infringement liability is lower than you might think. The Copyright Act provides a…
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon The Lanham Act, enacted by Congress in 1946, provides several means of monetary recovery for trademark infringement: these include disgorgement of the defendant’s profits, the plaintiff’s costs in bringing the lawsuit, damages sustained by the plaintiff (“actual damages”), and attorney’s fees (“in exceptional cases”). 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a). A prevailing plaintiff is not, however, automatically entitled to an award of monetary damages. In practice, many plaintiffs are only awarded injunctive relief to prevent further infringement. The Lanham Act gives the courts considerable discretion to determine an appropriate remedy for trademark infringement, and the courts have in…
Photo by James Owen Use of social media and content-sharing sites are at an all-time high. Unfortunately, so is copyright infringement. Many are aware of the risk inherent in posting videos online that contain music, images, and other content that doesn’t necessarily belong to the person posting the content, and many who have posted content online have received an unpleasant notification that the content has been deleted or inhibited in some way because the content was identified as proprietary to a third party. These notifications and interruptions can be irritating, and the process of “unflagging” a video can be confusing…
Photo by Edwin Hooper The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a multitude of unanswered questions—among them being “What if I can’t meet my obligations under a contract I’ve signed?” These questions can be a cause for anxiety, but with the proper contractual infrastructure, one can avoid some potential headaches. One example is a Force Majeure Clause. A Force Majeure Clause is a “boilerplate” provision in many contracts that excuses a party from performing its obligations under the contract if circumstances beyond the party’s control arise which make such performance impossible, impracticable, or illegal. Force Majeure Clauses typically include the following:…
Photo by CDC Over the past few weeks, the country has rapidly adjusted to a myriad of restrictions implemented at the local, state, and federal levels to address the coronavirus pandemic. While some of these are nothing more than best practices—such as handwashing, disinfecting, and sanitizing—some of the executive orders by governors and other officials raise constitutional concerns, touching on citizens’ liberty, assembly, and privacy rights. In several states, including Alabama, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas, governors have issued executive orders temporarily postponing non-essential surgeries and other medical procedures in light of COVID-19, and have included abortion among those procedures. The…
Photo by Logan Fisher It is common knowledge that a music artist will have difficulty breaking into the market and making it big without first signing a “record deal,” but it is less commonly known that such deals come in many different forms. A “record deal” is often thought of as record companies entering into an exclusive recording contract with an artist to share income from selling the artist’s recorded music. It is becoming increasingly common, however, for record companies to also seek shares of the artist’s other income streams, such as acting, touring, live performance, publishing, merchandise, endorsements, and…
Credit: Pixar Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the main event. In the northeast corner, weighing in at half a ton, the rookie from Emeryville, California—Guinevere! And in the southwest corner, also weighing in at half a ton, the reigning heavyweight champion from San Francisco, California—Vanicorn! Which unicorn or pegasus-emblazoned 1972 Chevrolet G10 Van will be the victor?  Although this article doesn’t involve an actual bout between vans, it does involve recently-alleged copyright infringement of a peculiar nature. In 2014, a San Francisco tattoo artist and unicorn fanatic who goes by the name of “Sweet Cicely Daniher” painted a unicorn onto…
Photo by AK¥N Cakiner The El Paso Court of Appeals recently addressed the question of bystander liability in Murray v. Nabors Well Service. Plaintiff Kevin Murray was a passenger in a vehicle that veered off the travel lanes and onto the shoulder at night, colliding with a trailer connected to a disabled truck that was parked on the shoulder. After the truck had become disabled, and before the collision, a Nabors Well Service employee driving a company truck, Timothy White, had stopped to assist. Murray suffered injuries in the collision, and sued Nabors and White alleging negligence in failing to warn…
The current Gulls logo registered to the San Diego Gulls Hockey Club LLC Intellectual property is exactly that — property — and it can be bought, sold, transferred, assigned, licensed, and more. Unlike some other forms of property, however, questions as to ownership and value can linger long after a business deal is complete. Enter the San Diego Gulls. In 2015, ECHL Inc. (a mid-level professional hockey league) assigned two trademarks and a Gulls logo to San Diego Gulls Hockey Club LLC. This assignment included the following language: (1) Assignor has the right, power and authority to enter into…