Celebrity Justice - The FindLaw Celebrities and The Law Blog

February 2016 Archives

Facial Animation Tech Fight: Who Owns Deadpool's Smile?

Animated characters today can make facial expressions that are as subtle as those of a human actor. That's because people do make those expressions and increasingly sophisticated technology is used to translate these into animation. Think of the films "Deadpool" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron."

Now, in a very convoluted lawsuit, the ownership of Mova, a facial animation program, is being challenged, according to the New York Times. The technology won a technical Academy Award last year and is at the center of a copyright and patent dispute that could lead to a court blocking distribution of movies that use it. Let's look at some details.

Led Zeppelin on 'Stairway to Heaven' Plagiarism

A long time ago there was a very long song that went on and on and it still won't go away. Jimmy Page, guitarist and songwriter for Led Zeppelin, this week testified in a California court regarding the iconic "Stairway to Heaven," the originality of which has been challenged by the heirs of Randy Craig Wolfe from a band called Spirit.

Wolfe's heirs say that Led Zeppelin's song resembles an instrumental title called "Taurus" by Spirit, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Page admitted during testimony that he did find a copy of Spirit's album in his record collection but said that he did not know he owned it and that he didn't hear the song in question until 2014. He released "Stairway to Heaven" in 1971 and denies plagiarizing Spirit's 1968 song.

Donald Trump's Personal Record in Federal Court: 169 Lawsuits

Donald Trump is inescapable. The bombastic businessman and reality TV star's campaign for the presidency is a reality for all now, as he increasingly delights voters on the right according to the results of Republican primaries.

His presence in the national spotlight inspired Law Newz to review Trump's record in federal court. Going back to 1983, Donald Trump has reportedly been named in 169 lawsuits and that's only at the national level. Sued by celebrities, personal assistants, prisoners, mental hospital patients, unions, and wealthy businessmen, Trump is no stranger to a legal fight. Here are a few examples.

Erin Andrews Hotel Peeping Tom Suit Goes to Trial

TV personality and sportscaster Erin Andrews is appearing in a different sort of production this week, a trial. Jury selection began yesterday in her civil suit against the Nashville Marriott hotels and a man who filmed her naked in 2008 using a peephole in the hotel, posting the video online, reports The Daily Mail.

In 2009, "the peeping Tom," Michael David Barrett, pled guilty in federal criminal court to filming Andrews on three separate occasions at three different hotels. In 2011, she filed a civil suit, which is at long last making its way to trial. Here's what has happened so far.

Kesha Seeks Injunctive Relief: What Is That?

Last week pop music fans around the country got passionate about contract law. It's an unusual occurrence prompted by the case of Kesha Rose Sebert against her producer Lukasz Gottwald. Kesha is seeking an injunction, or a court order, relieving her of her contractual obligations on the basis of sexual and psychological abuse by Gottwald, known as Dr. Luke.

On Friday afternoon, a judge in New York denied the request for an injunction and #FreeKesha was trending nationally as fans demanded that she be released from the prison of her deal. Then Taylor Swift donated a quarter million dollars for Kesha's legal troubles and other pop stars opined widely on the matter. Let's take a look at the relief Kesha seeks. What is an injunction and what does the denial mean for Kesha?

Taylor Swift Donates $250,000 to Free Kesha From Contract

Taylor Swift is the latest pop star to support the Free Kesha campaign, announcing that she's donating a cool quarter million for her colleague's legal problems, according to CNN. But Kesha is not incarcerated. Rather, she is imprisoned in a recording contract with Dr. Luke of Kemosabe Records, who she says has been abusive for a decade.

On Friday, a judge ruled against Kesha, finding evidence of sexual abuse insufficient and calling her contract "heavily negotiated." The judge did not rule on motions to discuss Kesha's claim but also declined to issue an injunction that would allow Kesha to record independently.

You know what they say: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you. Seeing as how everyone is paranoid on the Good Wife these days, it could be they're after everybody.

Between FBI investigations, NSA eavesdroppers, and law firm maneuvering, no one appears safe, especially Alicia, the calm and sober center of the show's Venn diagram of intrigue. Who else has a bull's-eye on their back? Let's take a legal look at last night's episode, "Targets."

Kanye May Sue The Pirate Bay Over 'The Life of Pablo'

Kanye West should be having a good week. He released an album and many people were excited about it. But Kanye's not happy about how that excitement manifested, specifically in people pirating his album online and not paying for a subscription to the artist-driven downloading service, Tidal, in which Kanye is invested.

So today, according to VentureBeat, the pop star is meeting with lawyers to discuss who to sue. It's a slightly convoluted story. But here is what happened.

'Star Wars' UK Producers Charged for On-Set Safety Violations

A British production company faces criminal charges over workplace safety violations on the latest Star Wars film. Actor Harrison Ford, reprising his role as Hans Solo, broke his leg in an on-set accident during the filming of "The Force Awakens" in June 2014, the Associated Press reports, and this led to the recent charges.

The Health and Safety Executive, England's labor safety agency, said last week that it charged Foodles Production (UK) Ltd. -- a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co. -- with four breaches of workplace health and safety laws. "[B]y law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers -- this is as true on a film set as a factory floor," the agency stated.

Will Taylor Swift Forgive Kanye or Claim Defamation?

Two nights ago, Taylor Swift won a Grammy for 2015's Album of the Year for "1989." She used the moment in the spotlight to take a shot at Kanye West, who did not attend the event. The two have clashed, most famously, when Swift first received a VMA years ago, and most recently last Friday when Kanye dissed her lyrically.

Kanye last week released a song from his new album claiming he made Swift famous and might still sleep with her. He said in a tweet that she approved the line, which she immediately denied. It seemed likely that the famously litigious Swift would retaliate with a lawsuit. Could she claim defamation?

They say you can't go home again. They also say there are no second acts in American lives. But Alicia might just prove them wrong.

She returns to Lockhart, Agos and Lee with Lucca in tow, and wastes no time bringing in a new client and butting heads with Diane. Here's a look at the legal aspects of last night's episode, "Monday."

Contract Basics: Kanye Ignores Shkreli Offer on New Album

Martin Shkreli loves making a stink, and he will do it at almost any cost. The US's most reviled pharmaceutical company executive yesterday offered $10 million to exclusively buy Kanye West's new album, The Life of Pablo. He tweeted a copy of his offer letter to the pop star, and followed up that Kanye must by law consider the offer and, thus, delay his album's release.

Kanye, who loves outrageous statements but only if he makes them, appears unmoved by Shkreli's claims or offer. He said that TLOP (which some have affectionately dubbed Tomatoes, Lettuce, Onion, Pickles) will be released today, according to BillBoard.

Kendall Jenner Sues Cutera for $10M Over Ads

The half-Kardashian super model Kendall Jenner is suing Cutera, a skin treatment company, for claims that it's responsible for her "nearly flawless skin." Cutera claims its laser acne treatment perfected the 20-year-old. But Jenner's filing says she had no deal and is accustomed to getting paid, which according to TMZ is the take-away from this case.

Ciara Sues Future for Defamatory Tweets, Demands $15M

We are culturally deep in social media, and celebrities are in deepest, leading their lives online, sometimes to their detriment. Twitter libel lawsuits have existed for almost as long as the social network, and now pop singer Ciara is joining the club, suing her child's father, Future, for $15 million over his disparaging tweets.

Future, born Nayvadius Wilburn, has been very vocal about the couple's breakup since it happened in 2014, according to The Verge. But he is a mean tweeter, per Ciara, who wants the slings to stop, demanding also that he delete past defamatory tweets. Meanwhile, TMZ reports that sources close to Future said that the libel suit is a joke and that she is throwing stones at glass houses (well, it was TMZ so they said $15 million rocks at glass houses but you get the idea).

Wu-Tang Clan Album Cover Artist Sues Shkreli

Martin Shkreli, the young drug company executive who came under fire for price hikes last year and for calling Congress imbeciles on Twitter last week, just got sued for allowing images on the cover of the Wu-Tang Clan's album, "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" to be used by Vice.

There is only one copy of the album in existence, and Shkreli owns it. Already reviled nationwide for his drug price hikes, Shkreli found no fans when he announced that he would not listen to the album that cost him $2 million but bought it to keep it from the people. Now the illustrator whose art was used on the cover is suing Shkreli and others for the same amount, saying he did not give permission for his fan art to be used in that context, according to Reuters.

Models Sue Agencies for Financial Abuses and More

It seems like a dream, being beautiful and getting paid bank to just look good. But as anyone who has ever been up close to the modeling or fashion industries will say, there is a high price to pay for participating in the game of glamour. Certainly, that is what a complaint filed by 8 models suing their former agencies states, according to the New York Post.

In a class-action lawsuit filed by 8 models against 6 major agencies in a New York state court in Manhattan recently, the young beauties reveal how agencies take advantage of their youth and beauty, financially and otherwise. While one lawyer for one agency has already dismissed the complaint as the whining of wannabes, the filing does shed light on some seemingly shady practices.

Lauren Conrad Blog Sued for Surfing Dog Photos

Former The Hills reality television star Lauren Conrad, now known for her lifestyle blog, is being sued for her use of two surfing dog photos on her website. Given that the site is a commercial enterprise, and promotes Conrad's brand, the plaintiff, Incredible Features, Inc. expressed wonder in its complaint that the blogger did not pay for the content.

But they did it with humor, according to TMZ, which reports that the court filing is "a pretty entertaining read." So let's see what Incredible Features has to say about Conrad's alleged failure to pay for the images of the surfing dogs that it owns.

Cosby Criminal Sexual Assault Case Proceeds in PA

A Pennsylvania judge ruled this week that a criminal sexual assault case against Bill Cosby will proceed, NPR reports. This despite claims that the comedian received immunity from prosecution over a decade ago in connection with the civil suit filed by alleged victim, Andrea Constand.

The immunity claim was supported by the statements of a former District Attorney that he orally agreed not to prosecute Cosby. The agreement was allegedly given to Cosby's now-deceased attorney at the alleged victim's lawyers' request. The judge apparently was not buying it and the criminal case will proceed.

Model Drops 2008 Playboy Mansion Assault Case Against Bill Cosby

It's hard to keep track of all the Cosby cases lately. But there is one matter less, reports the New York Daily News, as a model who sued comedian Bill Cosby for an alleged assault at the Playboy Mansion in 2008 has moved to dismiss her suit without prejudice.

The filing by Chloe Goins in a Los Angeles federal court was short and did not elaborate on the model's reasons for dropping her claim, but it did reserve the right to file again. Does her decision have to do with the fact that prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against Cosby for the assault after a year of investigation?

Will Nike Sue Kanye for Defamatory Song Lyrics?

Kanye West has made a name for himself saying and doing outrageous things. Shortly after he announced that he was a proud non-reader, he released a book. After his first Paris runway show was panned, he said the French did not know fashion. And now that his sneaker deal with Nike has gone down the drain, Kanye is making claims about the company that some suspect will lead to a lawsuit, reports Details.

Kanye West released a single on New Year's Eve, called "Facts." What's interesting about that title is that it implies that what follows in the song is true. And that makes him liable for defamation if what he is saying is not true and does damage to the targeted party, in this case Nike.

If Alicia's life had been fraying at the edges this season, we might have finally seen her at the end of her rope last night. Failed love, failed campaigns, and failed revenge plots all came crashing in, and Alicia's professional and personal worlds were collapsing.

As bleak as that sounds, there's just enough hope that our protagonist can climb out of this hole, perhaps finding herself back where it all started. She just has to resolve a few court matters first. Here's a look at the legal aspects of last night's episode, "Judged."