Thursday, June 28, 2012



Yes, the entertainment industry is fun, entertaining, and glamorous, but with all that comes scandal, controversies, and lawsuits.  Professionals in the entertainment industry whether it is music, movies, television, or design have to be very careful when it comes to deal making.  In this blog I am going to discuss three legal controversies that I found to be very interesting, I hope you feel the same.

In the entertainment industry there is always something going on.  Being in the entertainment industry it is always best to know what legal liability issues that are going on.  Believe it or not, this is vital to creating your business plan and running you business. Issues that I found relevant to my business is cases such as “backing out of an agreement to appear for a show” working with celebrity talents with our show we run the risk of that artist not appearing as agreed which could result in refunds of ticket sales profit lost and cancellation of show. Perfect example:


In April 2011 “Gate Five” a video game developer filed a lawsuit against entertainer “Beyoncé” for backing out of an agreement to appear in the developer’s video game which resulted in Gate Five collapsing and the loss of 70 jobs.  Beyoncé’s attorney argued that the singer was well within her rights of backing out of the agreement because Gate Five did not meet their part of the agreement by meeting a November 10 deadline of gaining funds.  A New York Judge has ruled that the lawsuit will proceed.

In this case I’ve always felt that celebrities should not be treated any differently legally than a non-celebrity.  Beyoncé agreed to appear in this video game, that has not been denied, but she decided to back out because of funding. Know lets say yes the funding deadline did pass, but lets take into consideration the consequences.  I feel if the deal was good enough to agree too, than maybe Beyoncé could have funded the project herself, which would add something new and innovative to her well-established resume.  Beyoncé is such a huge name and influence, Nevertheless her backing out of this agreement caused investors to turn away which resulted in the company going under.  What happened to those people who lost their jobs?  It seems these people weren’t considered when the thought of backing out of this deal came to mind.

When it comes to deal making, every aspect should be taken into consideration.  If the deal falls through who will be affected?  Where is the funding coming from?  When are the deadlines?  What needs to be done everyday leading up to the deadline?  These are just a few questions that need to be answered at the deal-making table.

California band  “One Direction” sue Sony and Syco (Simon Cowell entertainment company)

Another industry liability is Trademark infringement with a name. Choosing a name for your company or band can be a crucial thing.  We often sit and brainstorm for a name that feels right and a name that represents what we stand for. Most of the time we do not realize the possibility that our chosen name could end up in a lawsuit. Unfortunately, it happens. For example a new and fast growing Britain Band “One Direction”.  A Federal lawsuit in California has been filed by a California band also called “One Direction” against Sony and Syco (Simon Cowell entertainment company) requesting that all promotional material causing confusion and damage to the California base band (Dumon, 2012).

Louis Vuitton sued Akanoc Solutions, Inc. for contributory copyright and trademark infringement under the Copyright and Lanham Acts

Louis Vuitton sued Akanoc Solutions, Inc. (January, 2012) ("Akanoc"), Managed Solutions Group, Inc. ("MSG"), and Steven Chen (the owner of both companies) for contributory copyright and trademark infringement under the Copyright and Lanham Acts, respectively. MSG leased servers, bandwidth, and IP addresses to other companies, such as Akanoc, who then operated the servers and otherwise ran the business. Louis Vuitton alleged that some of Akanoc's China-based customers directly infringed on Louis Vuitton's trademarks and copyrights. Louis Vuitton sent the defendants eighteen Notices of Infringement documenting the infringements occurring on websites hosted by defendants, yet the defendants were unable to identify any action taken in response to the notices sent by Louis Vuitton and the websites continued to operate. Louis Vuitton alleged that defendants had actual knowledge of the website's activities, that defendants knowingly avoided learning of the full extent of infringing activities, and that defendants knowingly enabled the infringing conduct by hosting the websites and permitting them to display the counterfeit products. A jury found that all three defendants were liable for willful contributory trademark infringement and willful copyright infringement. It awarded statutory damages on both claims for each of the three defendants.

What I have learned from this liability issue is to be sure to file the necessary papers to protect your business name/band name. There are many things we have to be careful about because as you can see you can be sued when you least expect it. When starting or running your business it is imperative that we take the necessary steps to avoid these types of infringements. We also have to be sure that our right are protected against anyone who uses our works, name and photos for financial gain without permission our approval.

The Escapist: News: Judge Okays Dance Game Lawsuit Against Beyoncé. (n.d.). The Escapist. Retrieved March 4, 2012, from http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/114603-Judge-Okays-Dance-Game-Lawsuit-Against-Beyonce 

Dumon, M. (2012, April 11). One direction sued for trademark infringement. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/one-direction-sued-for-trademark-infringement

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP (January 20.2012): Louis Vuitton Sets A New Standard In Federal Trademark And Copyright Law

By Melisa Brown 

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