Friday, March 16, 2007


A team of computer hackers plan to hack over the next month.

But two hackers going by the names of Mondo Armando and Müstaschio promise to begin disclosing security vulnerabilities in MySpace, News Corp.'s popular social networking site, every day next month. Read the rest HERE.

Isn't already full of bugs and hacks? So what will be the difference this month?

Thursday, March 08, 2007


If you are in Turkey and want to check out the latest and greatest YouTube videos, you may see the following message when you log onto the site:

"Access to site has been suspended in accordance with decision no: 2007/384 dated 06.03.2007 of Istanbul First Criminal Peace Court".

Click here for the rest of the story.


Nas says "hip-hop is dead" on one of his recent hooks and now the San Jose Mercury News says the same thing.

Recording executives are more interested in turning a quick buck than nurturing rap culture -- and they are behind the apparent demise of hip-hop music.

I have been a hip-hop head since 1988, but listening to mainstream radio these days makes me feel that hip-hop is dying. It cannot be a good thing that I prefer listening to old tracks from the mid-90s over anything being produced today. Maybe hip-hop is dead! Or perhaps it will be like Mark Twain and the reports of its death will have been greatly exaggerated.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Captain America has undertaken his last mission — at least for now. The venerable superhero is killed in the issue of his namesake comic that hit stands Wednesday, the Daily News reported.

For the rest of the story, click HERE


Trademark dilution has been a part of U.S. federal trademark law since 1996. In order for a plaintiff to prevail under previous case law, the plaintiff needed to show that its mark was actually diluted by defendant's mark in question. Under the new law that was signed into law in October, 2006, the trademark statute is revised, so that the plaintiff now only needs to show that defendant's mark will likely cause dilution of plaintiff's mark.

Under the new law and standard, it is now easier for a plaintiff to prevail in dilution actions, because it is easier to show to likely dilution as opposed to actual dilution.

For the full text of the Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006, click HERE.


The Internet age has created many digital entrepreneurs. Many of these entrepreneurs run their businesses through computers and different software packages that can do everything under the sun. As a result, many attorneys and non-attorneys have been creating self-help websites that allow the users to create, download and print custom legal forms. It can be a lucrative business especially for an attorney with an extensive library of original forms/contracts.

However, times may be the changing. In a recent decision, the 9th Circuit recently ruled that a legal software vendor engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

The suit, Frankfort Digital Services v. Kistler (In re: Reynoso), arose out of a bankruptcy proceeding, during which the petitioner paid to use browser-based software that prepared his bankruptcy petition based on information he provided. For the full article, click here.

The Court also found that the software vendor advertised itself as having/offering expertise in the law. If any practitioner provides these types of legal services over the Internet, he/she will need to examine his/her actions to ensure that they are within the boundaries of the law.

Could this court ruling also be applicable to brick and mortar document preparation operations such as We The People?


Have you seen those cartoon-looking commercials that come on mid-day during the "Jerry Springer" and/or Maury shows where they show some prehistoric dude accidentally inventing the wheel. Some guy in a suit then comes on screen and offers to protect your invention. Has anyone ever called one of these companies? Just curious.

Anyway if you ever wanted to search the database of United States patents, then you should check out GOOGLE PATENTS.

The datebase of Google Patents covers the entire collection of patents made available by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)—from patents issued in the 1790s through those issued in the middle of 2006. Unfortunately, the database does not include patent applications, international patents, or U.S. patents issued over the last few months, but Google says that it will expand coverage in the future.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


One perspective on the YouTube copyright debate:

KAZAA LITIGATION IN AUSTRALIA (Interview with Michael Williams)

Michael Williams is a partner in the prestigious Sydney technology law firm, Gilbert + Tobin. Mr. Williams was a key player in the infamous Kazaa case, recently fought in the Federal Court of Australia. In this below interview, Mr. Williams describes the high drama of the Anton Piller orders (which enabled Michael's client and its 65-strong team to capture computers from 13 locations, simultaneously, all over Australia).


I was an online DJ from 1998-2003 through Back in the old days, streaming music over the Internet was relatively inexpensive. Since that time, many new webcasters have jumped into the mix. That may all change due to a ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board which increases the royalty payments these webcasters have to pay to record labels and artists.

The new rates, which are retroactive to last year, were decided on Friday by the Copyright Royalty Board, a panel of three copyright judges, and made public Tuesday on the board's Web site, COPYRIGHT ROYALTY BOARD DECISION. For the rest of the article, click HERE

Will this ruling eliminate small webcasters from the marketplace?

Monday, March 05, 2007


The government rejected Alexandre Batlle's attempt to trademark an unusual name to sell T-shirts. The mark in question? "Obama bin Laden."

Batlle's trademark application was rejected because it made false connections between Osama bin Laden and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, and contained "immoral or scandalous matter," according to Karen Bush, a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lawyer. For the rest of the story, click HERE

Isn't Barrack Obama's middle name Hussein? So does that mean we won't see the knockoff Saddam Hussein Obama shirts? Also, I didn't realize that the Bushes controlled the USPTO too.


It appears that the vibration technology which has caused a many lost lives on challenging video games will make a return in the PS2.

Sony Corp. and Immersion Corp. said they have settled their long-simmering patent dispute over the vibration technology that shakes video game controllers, and will work together to bring the so-called "rumble" function back to PlayStation products.

The rest of the article can be read at:

This technology cost me a sick Civic Si in Need for Speed Underground 2. I remember racing against some Lexus IS 300s and coming around the corner at 145 mph. My car hit the wall and the joystick started vibrating like it was about to explode. I dropped the controller which then caused my beautiful Si to explode.


If you ever wanted to represent NFL players, check out this site for the information on getting certified. With right mix of player-clients, you may be the next Jerry Maguire.


If you are seeking out investors in California to invest in your independent film project, please do not run afoul of the federal and state securities laws. If your investment opportunity is considered a "security," then you must be in compliance and your security must be registered. If you are giving an investor an interest in your film with the right to receive a backend, then that interest will likely be a "security."

Under the law, a security must be registered unless it falls under an exemption to registration. Registration can be a lengthy and detailed process. Fortunately, there are several exemptions wherein the security does not have to be registered. One exemption that I have used for independent films is the exemption under California corporations code 25102(f). This exemption is limited to no more than 35 investors with whom you have a pre-existing business or personal relationship.

This exception should be considered when a filmmaker desires to raise money from investors in California. Please see below for further details.


If you are an up & coming filmmaker who is interested in looking for the state that provides the best tax incentives, you may be interested in checking out this report that summarizes each states' respective incentives:

Thursday, March 01, 2007


I've followed Anna Nicole's life since I was a teenager in my early college years. She's gone from centerfold to the Supreme Court. Even in her death, her life has been a legal circus.

She battled for millions of dollars all the way to the Supreme Court. Millions that were left by her husband who met her while she was shaking it at a strip club and who was approaching 90 years old. She has a baby and loses her only son days later. She gets in a custody battle over paternity. She dies from suspicious causes. Her affiliates fight for the body on national TV. Everyone wants to know, "who's your daddy?" Her mom appeals to get the body. Billy Smith wants to exhume Daniel. Weeks later, Anna is not buried. Years later, this will still be in the courts.

However when it is all said and done law professors will have plenty of new fact patterns and court interpretations to challenge their students, because these events have been a lesson in judicial procedures for the world to see.


The below is an article I wrote for several clients back in 2004.

**UPDATE (August 5, 2013): Please note that I have written an updated version of this guide.  It can be reviewed at: Six Stages of Production Legal in Independent Motion Pictures


Legal Ramifications of Low-Budget Movie Productions

Any movie production is a large, detailed project no matter the size of the production’s budget. There are many different aspects involved with making a movie project at the production level and if these aspects are not all handled properly, then the entire project will fail. One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of filmmaking at the production level is the legal process. From the production contracts to securing the project’s underlying rights, there are legal questions to consider at each stage of the production in terms of minimizing risk to the production entity, allowing artistic expression for the project’s creators and maximizing commercial exploitation of the final product. Unfortunately, legal fees can be cost-prohibitive for smaller productions. If these productions want to have enough money to make their project, these productions are often required to lower the budget numbers allocated for legal services, and in some cases completely eliminate necessary legal aspects.

However by eliminating necessary legal aspects, the production entity opens itself up to potential liability. On major, studio projects with big budgets ($2.5 million or more), the budgets can afford expensive legal fees without negatively affecting the creative quality of the project. However on small, independent projects (less than $2.5 million), there is not a lot of room in these budgets to support expensive legal costs. Most filmmakers will not want money that can be used to enhance the filmmaker’s creative vision taken from non-legal areas. Therefore, the smaller production is faced with the choices of ignoring some legal issues to lower costs, paying the legal fees in lieu of other budget areas or standardizing the process so that it is more cost efficient for the independent production.

The first dilemma exposes the production entity to potential liability. With the money involved in filmmaking, it does not make sense to intentionally ignore legal issues, no matter how small these issues may be. The second dilemma is usually not feasible, because there is not a lot of flexibility in the budgets of independent projects. While legal is very important, the true filmmaker is not going to take money away from areas that will help enhance or improve the project’s creative vision. The third dilemma therefore presents the best solution to handle legal issues for an independent production in a cost-effective manner.

There are standard issues that occur on every production, so once the standard legal process is developed for any one production, it can be simply modified and used on subsequent productions without incurring the significant legal fees that would apply if the process was developed from scratch.

Each of the below headings describe the legal issues that apply for movie productions at the various stages of the production.


During development, the first thing that must be handled is the acquisition of the underlying rights for the project. Usually by the time the project is greenlit for production, the rights have already been secured. Regardless, the production legal needs to ensure that all the necessary rights to make the picture have been secured. Either the production legal must secure these rights himself or the production legal must have in the production entity’s possession the documents securing said underlying rights. The production legal may help negotiate and draft some above-the-line contracts, but the production legal’s main duty is to the production itself and the duty lasts until the delivery of the project.

As soon as a distributor is secured, the production legal needs to be given a copy of the distributor’s agreement. The production legal will review the distributor’s agreement and determine what deliverables are required by the distributor. The deliverables will determine exactly what the production legal needs to have completed. If future productions have the same distributor, the process can be replicated, resulting in smaller legal fees.


In pre-production, the production legal will form the desired corporate entity (corporation, LLC, etc.) in the appropriate jurisdiction (California, Delaware, New York, etc.). While production legal will not file taxes, the production legal will draft the operating agreements and get the entity’s tax ID number along with filing all the necessary classifications for tax purposes. In California, these costs alone can reach upwards of $1,000. However, these costs can be reduced by 50-60% once the process has been completed for one production, because it can be modified for subsequent productions.

After the production entity is formed, the bank accounts can be opened. Any financing for the production will be transferred to these accounts and the production entity is ready for business. A qualified and certified accountant needs to be hired as early in the process as possible. The accountant should be consulted when the initial budget is being constructed. The accountant will be vital to keeping the production on the projected budget by handling access to all production monies. To ensure that all paperwork is completed by the production crew, the accountant must not release any compensation payments until the production entity’s required and standard paperwork is received.

The production legal needs to have working relationships with the guilds (WGA, SAG and DGA) to make life for the production a little bit easier when dealing with union talent. Each union representative has the inherent power to change terms of the collective bargaining agreement so long as the change is not significant to the overall agreement. Therefore if a relationship has been established, the union representative will be more receptive to the requests of the production entity.

The production legal is not directly involved in casting. However, the production legal will draft and provide the contracts for the talent in the picture. In some cases, the production legal will negotiate the deal terms for the cast.


The bulk of the work for the production legal occurs while the project is in principal photography. Once the project reaches production, all the union and underlying rights issues need to be resolved. Contracts and deal memos for all members of the crew need to be drafted and completed by the crew. These documents will be standard for each production. Location releases and permits need to be secured for the shoot as well. General liability and errors & omissions insurance will also need to be acquired by the production entity. If artwork and/or products are used, then the releases for these things need to also be drafted and completed. There can be over a hundred required contracts for any given production. Although entertainment contracts are fairly standard, the legal costs for drafting hundreds of contracts will be significant. However once a production is completed, these contracts will not have to be completely drafted again for later productions. They can be reused and modified, resulting in a much smaller legal cost to the production.


During the post-production, the production legal will help draft and help negotiate the deals for the music, composer, the editor and post-production suites. All of the required paperwork for delivery will be compiled and cross-checked for accuracy at this stage. Any missing paperwork from this stage and any previous stages will be completed.


Once everything has compiled and is in compliance with the distributor’s agreement, copies of the legal paperwork will be passed along to the distributor. The original copies will be given to the owner of the production entity. The production legal’s services cover only services up until the delivery of the project to the initial distributor. If the production legal is needed for additional services, then the production legal and the production entity will negotiate new terms for such services.


In today’s entertainment industry, the legal costs involved with a production of a movie can be cost-prohibitive to small, independent production entities with low budgets. However, the more the legal process for producing a film can be standardized, the cheaper the resulting legal costs will be. Instead of having to pay for everything being created from scratch on each picture, sample contracts, union relationships and service vendors can be utilized over and over. Similar to how it is cheaper to buy things in bulk, utilizing the standardized legal process for producing a film will make it cheaper overall to cover the necessary legal expenses on later films and projects.