Thursday, December 7, 2006
This important contract-related news flash from the AP (via NYLawyer.com):
Lawsuit is the word: Olivia Newton-John is suing Universal Music Group Inc. for allegedly failing to pay more than $1 million in royalties on sales of the "Grease" soundtrack album.
Newton-John starred with John Travolta in the 1978 movie version of the Broadway hit.
The breach-of-contract suit was filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior court. It contends that while Universal did pay some royalties on the album, it failed to make a range of other contractual payments, said John Mason, an attorney for Newton-John.
According to the suit, a recent audit showed Universal owes more than $1 million to Newton-John's company, ON-J Productions, Ltd.
"The lawsuit is without merit and, at the appropriate time, we expect that the court will dismiss it," Universal said in a statement Tuesday.
[Meredith R. Miller]
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
The most recent issue of the Virginia Law Review is a Symposium issue on Contemporary Political Theory and Private Law. It includes two fascinating exchanges on contract law theory. Barbara Fried provides comments on Daniel Markovits' Article, "Making and Keeping Contracts." In resopnding to Michael Trebilcock and Jim Leng's "The Role of Formal Contract Law and Enforcement in Economic Development," Terrance O'Reilly's "Cotnract Theory on and off the Grid" assesses the applicability of dominant contracts law theories to non-Western societies. His short essay discusses the approaches of Charles Fried, Thomas Scanlon, Melvin Eisenberg, Peter Benson, James Gordley, and Michael Trebilcock. Fun stuff!
I have noticed a trend towards puffery in recent legal scholarship. I'm not talking about David Hoffman's briliiantly-titled The Best Puffery Article Ever (I haven't read the Article, but anything with that good a title has got to be good). No, I'm talking about abstracts that sound a common theme.
This Article provides the first comprehensive study demonstrating conclusively that . . .
This Article shows that everything you have previously read on this topic is wrong and I am right . . .
This Article demonstrates that the simple and obvious solution to this problem (or interpretation of this provision) is correct and nobody has recognized this brilliant and straightforward solution until I came along.
I have been sucked in by quite a few such abstracts. Here's the thing. The Articles never live up to their abstracts (creating the biggest false advertising claim since Lionel Hutz's suit against the movie The Never Ending Story). They often add significantly to my understanding of the issues addressed and usually persuade me, but they never change my life, remove all mysteries and doubts, or unlock the secrets of happiness and success as the initial puffery suggests.
But perhaps the Articles have a different impact on the law review editors who are perhaps the abstracts' primary intended audience.
Last week, Carol Hill Albert sold Astroland Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, USA, to real estate developer Thor Equities. Astroland will open for a final season next year; then Thor plans to build a $2 billion theme hotel and amusement park. What will happen to Coney Island’s iconic rides? The Astrotower, the Cyclone, the Parachute Jump?
Well, the New York Post reports that Albert has offered to donate the 275-foot-high Astrotower to the City of New York so that it can be moved to another area of the Coney Island Boardwalk. But, if the City doesn’t accept Albert’s offer, she said she has a buyer who wants to move the tower to “an undisclosed amusement park somewhere down South.”
Now, I know the-potential-amusement-park-buyer “down South” is “undisclosed,” but my first reaction is pleeease Mr. Mayor don’t let Disney buy the Astrotower. This is pure speculation, but I can just imagine a part of Disneyworld named “Coney Island, USA”; this is all too ironic. If this were to happen, a historic amusement park in Brooklyn will be replaced with something approximating Disneyworld and, in turn, a bit of that history would be moved to Disneyworld. Given that many have noted the “Disneyfication” of New York and, in particular, Time Square, it will soon be unclear where Disney ends and Main Street, USA begins.
My next thought, and my grandparents met at Coney Island in the 1930’s, so I may have a particular bias informed mostly by nostalgia: what will be next? The Cyclone? According to the New York Post, apparently not: “[t]he famed Cyclone roller coaster at Astroland was not part of the deal, and Albert will continue operating the landmark ride under a city lease.”
[Meredith R. Miller]
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Many of my students, faced with the prospect of their first set of law school exams, find the system unconscionable. They have no bargaining power, and the terms are unreasonably favorable to law professors, who give no feedback all semester and then administer exams in environments that could hardly be more stress-inducing for students. I suggest they raise their claim in D.C.
When he learned of Ms. Williams' plight,
"Unconscionable!" said Skelly-Wright.
If you sell door-to-door,
The court might abhor
You, and void all your contracts for spite.