Celebrity Justice - The FindLaw Celebrities and The Law Blog

Recently in Celebrity Intellectual Property Category

When you think "Friday the 13th," you think of Jason Vorhees, stalking victims with a butcher knife from behind a hockey mask. But true fans remember that Jason wasn't the featured mass killer in the film that begat the franchise, and in fact barely appeared in it at all. Those fans may also remember that the film premiered almost 40 years ago.

Both of those facts, though, carry a lot of significance for Victor Miller, who wrote the screenplay in 1979. Miller was finally able to claw back, so to speak, his copyrights to the movie. But how far do those rights extend?

Copyright Claims Against 'Empire' Director Dismissed

Copyright claims brought by Clayton Tanksley against writer-director Lee Daniels were dismissed after the court found no substantial similarities between Daniels' hit show, Empire, and the struggling actor's screenplay, Cream. Though both shows are centered around an African-American music label executive that has been diagnosed with a life-long disease, the random similarities end there. These characters, the court found, are both generic "prototypes" and do not earn copyright protection.

Kim Kardashian Hopes to Settle the Vibes Perfume Lawsuit

In news regarding yet another Kardashian infringement lawsuit, Vibes Media has requested an extension for the court date in its suit against Kim Kardashian West in the hopes of settling out of court. In July, Vibes Media sued KKW over the similarity of its logo with the look and shape of the KKW perfume bottle, which, coincidentally, is named Vibes.

Taylor Swift Sued for 'Swift Life' Gaming App Moniker

Taylor Swift has created some Bad Blood with Patrick Benot, and he's not about to Shake It Off. Benot created a computer consulting business that he trademarked "SwiftLife" back in 2007, creating goods and services that help make life's errands more efficient. But nine years later in 2016, Taylor Swift and Glu Games launched an App entitled "The Swift Life," which is a one-stop shop for Swiftie fans.

Note: Taylor Swift has trademarked multiple iterations of the term "Swiftie." There's evidence of consumer confusion, causing Benot "endless grief" and hurting his business, claiming Everything Has Changed. Swift never asked for permission from Benot to use the trademark, and he is left wondering why she has to be so Mean.

It seems like a simple enough idea: Get some comedians together and record their off-the-cuff conversations. These guys and gals have to be funny all the time, right? And who better to host than Jerry Seinfeld? But now there's some legal disagreement over who actually came up with the idea, with Seinfeld saying the new copyright claims came only after a former director found out how much the comedian was making per episode after the show was picked up by Netflix last year.

"It seems to me that every single person everywhere is under attack in their comments section of whatever they think or whatever they said," Seinfeld told the AP when discussing the litigation. "It's unfortunate when it's a ... friend, and they decide to go for the money instead ... That's not the nicest moment, but I'm used to it."

Jay-Z Wins Copyright Infringement Case for 'Big Pimpin'

As of Thursday, Jay-Z's 99 problems no longer include a copyright challenge to his hit song "Big Pimpin." A panel of judges for the Ninth Circuit have ruled in the rapper's favor against the relative of an Egyptian composer who claimed "Big Pimpin" looped four measures of an Arabic flute from the composer's 1957 hit "Khosara." The panel's decision included an analysis of Egyptian law regarding economic and moral infringement rights.

Dr. Dre Can't Stop Gynecologist from Trademarking 'Dr. Drai'

Dr. Dre has about as much in common with a real doctor as Snoop Dogg has with Snoopy, or Eminem has with the delicious chocolate candy. But that didn't stop the famous rapper from trying to block a gynecologist from trademarking the name "Dr. Drai" as part of his medical practice. After a court battle, a judge has decided the real doctor is free to use his chosen moniker.

The best ideas have a ring of familiarity to them. That's why the best films and television shows are packed with either present-day authenticity or nostalgic elements from the past. Then again, there's a difference between, "Hey that looks familiar," and "Hey that was my idea."

Most fans of the hit Netflix series "Stranger Things" marvel at the array of period-specific elements, from costumes to set design and beyond. Filmmaker Charlie Kessler, on the other hand, looked at "Stranger Things" and said, "Hey that was my idea."

Between internet streaming, rights to deceased artists' work, politicians stealing songs for rallies, and remixes and sampling, music licensing has become a hot legal topic over the past decade. And in a time when so many artists are co-writing, co-performing, featuring, and guest appearing on other artists' work, figuring out who owns how much of a song can get pretty heated, especially when someone wants to use the song.

But a federal appeals court recently ended a standoff between the Department of Justice and songwriters and music publishers, ruling that a consent decree between the government and the publishers permits "fractional licensing," meaning that instead of one license for a song with multiple writers, users must obtain a license to use a song from each of the songwriters in order to use it. So how does that work?

A recent decision out of the Federal Central District Court of California in the Spinal Tap v. Vivendi lawsuit is making headlines as the case will be allowed to continue. The "band" is alleging that Vivendi failed to pay them royalties on the film and merchandising to the tune of over $400 million. From the mid-eighties to the mid-2000s, the band received less than $200 in royalties and merchandising combined, total; which is a complete and utter shock given the immense popularity of the movie and soundtrack, and merch.

Unfortunately for the band, their claim of fraud has been dismissed, along with three of the four members of the band. Only Christopher Guest (a.k.a. Nigel Tufnel) remains as a plaintiff in the lawsuit for now, as the other three sued under their business enterprises rather than as individuals. Federal judge Dolly Gee will allow the band to amend their lawsuit so that the other band members can get back on board as individuals, and will even allow the band to try to make their fraud claim again as well.