March 2, 2005
Global Film Conference Begins March 10, 2005 in New Orleans
The Louisiana State Bar Association's Art, Entertainment and Sports Law Section and the MPAA are co-sponsoring a conference on Global Film on March 10 and 11 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The keynote speaker is MPAA Senior Vice President John Malcolm. See the conference website for more information on this event.
March 1, 2005
Judge Strikes California Law Allowing Seal of Financial Records in Divorce Cases
Judge Roy Paul has ruled that the recently amended California law allowing parties to request that their financial records be sealed during divorce proceedings is unconstitutional. The issue arose with respect to the Burkle divorce. See the AP's coverage here.
Supreme Court to Hear MGM v. Grokster Appeal on March 29
Upcoming arguments in the MGM v. Grokster appeal on March 29, 2005 promise to be provocative. Findlaw provides links to briefs, lower court proceedings and related litigation here. Julie Hilden's thoughtful February 16 column on cnn.com reviews the issues in the case.
February 28, 2005
Fight Between Baltimore Sun, Governor Ehrlich Continues
The recent dismissal of the Baltimore Sun's lawsuit against Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich (Baltimore Sun v. Ehrlich) seems simply to have exacerbated the controversy over what the Sun considers to be the Governor's lack of candor and the Governor considers the Sun's unreasonable demands for information. Now, the Governor's Chief Counsel has begun an investigation into the mystery surrounding "MD4BUSH" and his (or her) involvement in spreading rumors about Mayor Martin O'Malley's personal life. Targets reportedly also include Baltimore Sun reporters, on the theory that they might have information helpful to the inquiry. See more in an AP story here, and a Baltimore Sun story by Ivan Penn here. James Keat, a retired Sun editor, published a pointedly pro-freedom of information piece in the Sun on the 25th, making some analogies between Ehrlich and Russian President Vladimir Putin. For more about the dismissal of the Sun's suit see Wiley Hall's piece in the Washington Post from February 14th here. Read Judge Quarles' opinion here. [NB: The Sun provides extensive coverage of the lawsuit and of the O'Malley investigation in its archives but may require registration for an archive search. Registration is free.]
February 27, 2005
Copyright Holder's Suit Against Smithsonian Press Dismissed
The Second Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of a copyright holder's lawsuit against the Smithsonian press for lack of jurisdiction, holding that such suits must be filed in the U. S. Court of Federal Claims under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1498(b). Arguing pro se, Kevin O'Rourke, who practices law in New York, wished ultimately to bring a claim that the Smithsonian had infringed his copyright in his book Currier and Ives: The Irish in America when it published its book Currier and Ives: America Imagined. The court examined the legislative history of the relevant statutes as well as Congress' relationship to the Smithsonian and concluded that Congress meant to establish "that the Smithsonian is within the term "the United States" in 28 U. S. C. [sec]1498(b). That section waives sovereign immunity with respect to copyright infringement claims brought against the United States, but only to the extent that such claims are brought in the United States Court of Federal Claims. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the district court, dismissing the present action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction." Read the opinion here.
The "Times", the FCC and Oscar Night
Frank Rich's column today in the New York Times makes some provocative observations about the possible links among the demands from some viewers for more stringent enforcement of broadcast decency standards from the FCC, a resulting measureable drop in viewership for the 2005 Super Bowl half time show and other live shows, and Oscar host Chris Rock's recent comments about tonight's show, which the network will broadcast with a five second delay. Rich goes on to discuss the extent to which it is possible to return to the 1950s and early 1960s, when many of today's audience members actively seek the kind of entertainment that the FCC seems determined to discourage these days. Finally, he reviews financial contributions made by the media, communications, and entertainment community to certain members of the majority party, citing for example Comcast. According to the article, Comcast's pay per view networks provide quite a menu of porn for subscribers. But Comcast also provides quite a lot of campaign support for Republican Fred Upton, a leader in the current anti-porn, anti-indecency campaign and other members of the current party which dominates the Administration (see p. 17, citing the Center for Responsive Politics website). NB: The online article contains a correction not in the print copy.