Copyright Litigation

Entertainment Law Update Podcast - Episode 100 Tamera Bennett & Gordon Firemark

100 entertainment law update podcast tamera bennett gordon firemark.jpg

100 episodes later and the Entertainment Law Update Podcast is still going strong!

Listen to Dallas-area music lawyer Tamera Bennett and Los Angeles film lawyer Gordon Firemark discuss the legal highlights from the past nine years on this very special episode of the Entertainment Law Update Podcast. Yes, we said "Righthaven" one more time.

Click the arrow below to listen or click the "Apple" below to subscribe for free in iTunes.

In this very special episode Tamera and Gordon covered:

and much more.

Please leave us listener feedback at the iTunes store. Your comments will help other folks find our podcast.

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Entertainment Law Update Podcast - Episode 99 Tamera Bennett and Gordon Firemark

Entertainment Law Update Podcast 99 Tamera Bennett Gordon Firemark #podcast #musicbiz #copyright #trademark.jpg

Listen to Dallas-area music lawyer Tamera Bennett and Los Angeles film lawyer Gordon Firemark discuss the latest entertainment law issues on the Entertainment Law Update Podcast.

Click the arrow below to listen or click the "Apple" below to subscribe in iTunes.

In this episode of the Entertainment Law Update Podcast, Tamera and Gordon discuss the latest news and cases involving copyright, trademark, film, TV, and other entertainment law issues.

These cases and much more on this episode of the Entertainment Law Update Podcast.

Please leave us listener feedback at the iTunes store. Your comments will help other folks find our podcast.

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click a link, I may receive a benefit.

Entertainment Law Update Podcast Episode 98 - Tamera Bennett and Gordon Firemark

Podcast Episode 98 Tamera Bennett Gordon Firemark.jpg

Listen to Dallas-area music lawyer Tamera Bennett and Los Angeles film lawyer Gordon Firemark discuss the latest entertainment law issues on the Entertainment Law Update Podcast.

Click the arrow below to listen or click the "Apple" below to subscribe in iTunes.

In this episode of the Entertainment Law Update Podcast, Tamera and Gordon discuss the latest news and cases involving copyright, trademark, film, TV, and other entertainment law issues.

These cases and much more on this episode of the Entertainment Law Update Podcast.

Please leave us listener feedback at the iTunes store. Your comments will help other folks find our podcast.

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click a link, I may receive a benefit.

How Does VARA Protect Artists and Building Owners?

Patrick Lewis contributed to this post.

5Pointz is the story of how the pen is mightier than the brush. Or, how written notice could have saved a building owner more than $6 million dollars in damages.

5Pointz History

Starting in the 1990s the exterior walls of the New York building complex known as 5Pointz, representing the five boroughs of New York, was a magnet for highly-recognized graffiti artists and a tourist attraction. The site was so popular, the owner, Jerry Wolkoff, created a “curator” role to oversee what graffiti would go on the buildings.

In 2013, 5Pointz owner Wolkoff announced his plans to destroy the 5Pointz complex and build high-raise apartments in its place.

Seeking injunctive relief on the grounds 5Pointz is a famous tourist spot, twenty-one 5Pointz artists filed suit in federal district court hoping to save their creative expressions.  Before the court issued an opinion, Wolkoff white-washed the walls of 5Pointz, destroying all the graffiti. The court awarded the artists $6.75 million in damages for violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA).

What is VARA?

The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 grants moral rights to certain forms of art. Moral rights are non-economic, spiritual or personal, and exist independently from an artist's copyright. Moral rights stem from an 18th-century French concept le droit moral.  VARA grants two moral rights, integrity and attribution. Integrity grants an artist the right to prevent the intentional distortion, mutilation or modification of their work. Attribution grants an artist the right to receive credit for their work.

What Works Does VARA Protect?

VARA only protects a “work of visual art” which the statute defines as paintings, drawings, prints, or sculptures. The statute explicitly excludes posters, maps, globes, charts, technical drawing, diagrams, models, applied arts, motion pictures, and merchandising/promotional items. The statute also expressly excludes works made for hire.

This litigation [5Pointz] marks the first occasion that a court has had to determine whether the work of an exterior aerosol artist—given its general ephemeral nature—is worthy of any protection under the law.
— Cohen v. G & M Realty L.P., 988 F. Supp. 2d 212, 214 (E.D.N.Y. 2013)

Additionally, VARA only protects “recognized stature.” The statute doesn’t define works of “recognized stature.” Carter v. Helmsley-Spear, Inc., 94 Civ. 2922 (DNE), 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7779 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) remains the seminal case for interpreting the phrase "recognized stature.” Carter created a two-prong test to determine “recognized stature.” First, the visual art has “stature” (i.e. is viewed as meritorious). Second, the visual art is “recognized” by art experts. Carter requires the visual art to achieve some notoriety, but how much notoriety is required is still unclear.

How Does VARA Work?

VARA does not completely prevent the destruction, mutilation or otherwise modification of protected works. VARA requires 90 days’ notice to the creator before the destruction, mutilation or otherwise modification of their work. There must be a good faith effort made to notify the creator. Sending notice to a creator’s last known address is sufficient. Notice is required so the creator has time to remove their work, if possible. 17 U.S.C. § 113. In the case of 5Pointz, it’s unclear to me how the graffiti could have been removed in such a way as to preserve the graffiti without actually removing chunks of the exterior façade.

An award of damages for a violation under VARA can be no less than $750 and no more than $30,000 for each work destroyed. If there is a willful violation, damages can be up to $150,000 for each work destroyed.

The Lesson From 5Pointz

5Pointz puts VARA into focus. It serves as a reminder that violating VARA has real consequences. Wolkoff could have potentially avoided a lawsuit by giving the artists notice of his plans to destroy their works. One question I have is whether or not Wolkoff could have located an address to properly notify all or most of the artists.

If you’re a creator of a VARA protected work, know your rights. Be aware that notice is required for the destruction, mutilation or modification of your work. On the other hand, if you own property that incorporates VARA protected work, know your obligations and follow the notice procedures.

Listen to entertainment lawyers Tamera Bennett and Gordon Firemark discuss the 5Pointz case on the Entertainment Law Update Podcast Episode 94.

Read the court opinion here. Cohen v. G&M REALTY LP, Dist. Court, ED New York 2018.

Update - Recent VARA Case Filings:

As of April 25, 2018, new lawsuits have been filed in Memphis and Pittsburgh over the destruction of graffiti/murals in public spaces.

Five Things You Need to Know About Filing A DMCA Designated Agent

Five Things You Need To Know About Filing a DMCA Designated Agent #createprotect #copyright #dmca

Enacted in 1998 as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), 17 USC Sec. 512 established a system for copyright owners and online entities to address online infringement.

Does Your Website Have Third-Party Generated Content?

If you are a service provider (the term service provider includes web sites) that allows the upload of third-party generated content, you may have limitations on liability if you fulfill certain requirements. One requirement is registering a Designated Agent with the U.S. Copyright office to receive notice of infringing content posted on your website.

Why Should I Register a DMCA Designated Agent?

To protect your business from certain claims of copyright infringement.

By What Date Do I Need to Re-Register?

New regulations went into place on December 1, 2016, the same date the U.S. Copyright Office launched a new electronic system and directory. The new electronic DMCA Registered Agent registration system will expedite the process of recording and searching for Registered Agents. Any service provider that has previously designated an agent with the Office will have until December 31, 2017 to submit a new designation electronically through the new online registration system.

As part of the transition to the new system, the Office’s present public directory of designated agents, generated by service providers’ paper filings, will be phased out on December 31, 2017. Until that time, an accurate designation in the old paper-generated directory will continue to satisfy the service provider’s obligations under section 512(c)(2), and the public will need to continue to search the paper-generated directory if the service provider is not yet listed in the new electronically-generated directory.

Where Do I Register My DMCA Designated Agent?

You can register online for only $6 via the U.S. Copyright Office.

How Does Someone File A Notice of Claimed Infringement When I Have a Designated Agent?

When a copyright owner’s work is allegedly being infringed on or through a service provider’s service, the copyright owner may send a notification of claimed infringement (often referred to as a “takedown notice”) to the service provider’s designated agent. For takedown notices to be legally effective, they must be provided to a service provider’s designated agent in writing and include substantially the following:

  1. A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

  2. Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.

  3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.

  4. Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted.

  5. A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

  6. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A). Upon receipt of a compliant takedown notice, a service provider must respond expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of the infringing activity. If a service provider fails to do so, it may lose its safe harbor protection and be subject to an infringement suit.

Entertainment Law Update Podcast - Episode 77 Gordon Firemark & Tamera Bennett

Entertainment law update podcast tamera bennett gordon firemark #entlawupdate #entertainmentlaw Texas music and media lawyer

Listen to Dallas-area music lawyer Tamera Bennett and Los Angeles film lawyer Gordon Firemark discuss the latest entertainment law issues on the Entertainment Law Update Podcast.

Click the arrow below to listen to the Entertainment Law Update Podcast or subscribe in iTunes.

In Episode 77 of the Entertainment Law Update Podcast Tamera and Gordon ponder:

These stories and more on this episode of Entertainment Law Update with Tamera Bennett and Gordon Firemark.

Please leave us listener feedback at the iTunes store.

EntLaw Update does a phenomenal job of keeping you current on issues of interest to anyone working at the intersection of law and media. Hosts Gordon Firemark and Tamara Bennett are personable and engaging, presenting stories in well-organized fashion that often leaves room for humor. As an avid consumer of law podcasts, I have to say this one is my favorite — if you need a reminder that the law isn’t *always* boring, Entertainment Law Update is what the doctor ordered!
— Michael

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Entertainment Law Update Podcast - Episode 76

Entertainment Law Update Podcast 76 Tamera Bennett- Gordon Firemark #trademark #copyright #entertainmentlaw

Listen to Dallas-area music lawyer Tamera Bennett and Los Angeles film lawyer Gordon Firemark discuss the latest entertainment law issues on the Entertainment Law Update Podcast.

Click the arrow below to listen to the Entertainment Law Update Podcast or subscribe in iTunes.


This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on the link I may receive a benefit.

Entertainment Law Update Podcast - Episode 75 with Tamera Bennett and Gordon Firemark

#entlawupdate Entertainment Law Update Podcast Episode 75 #musicbiz #createprotect Tamera Bennett, Gordon Firemark

Listen to Dallas-area music lawyer Tamera Bennett and Los Angeles film lawyer Gordon Firemark discuss the latest entertainment law issues on the Entertainment Law Update Podcast.

Click the arrow below to listen to the Entertainment Law Update Podcast or subscribe in iTunes.

In Episode 75 Tamera and Gordon ponder:

These stories and more on this episode of Entertainment Law Update with Tamera Bennett and Gordon Firemark.

Listener Feedback |

Please leave us a review in the iTunes store.

EntLaw Update does a phenomenal job of keeping you current on issues of interest to anyone working at the intersection of law and media. Hosts Gordon Firemark and Tamara Bennett are personable and engaging, presenting stories in well-organized fashion that often leaves room for humor. As an avid consumer of law podcasts, I have to say this one is my favorite — if you need a reminder that the law isn’t *always* boring, Entertainment Law Update is what the doctor ordered!
— Michael

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click a link I might receive a benefit.

Entertainment Law Update Podcast - Episode 73 Tamera Bennett & Gordon Firemark

entertainment law update podcast episode 73 - tamera bennett - gordon firemark #podcast #musiclaw #filmlaw #copyright #trademark

Click the arrow to listen to Entertainment Law Update Podcast Episode 73 or subscribe in iTunes.

Listen to Dallas-area music lawyer Tamera Bennett and Los Angeles film lawyer Gordon Firemark discuss the latest entertainment law issues on the Entertainment Law Update Podcast.

In Episode 73 Tamera and Gordon ponder:

These topics and more are available by clicking the arrow in the bar above or by subscribing to the podcast in iTunes.  Please leave us a review in the iTunes store.


This post contains affiliate links. That means I may receive a benefit if you click a link.

Entertainment Law Update Podcast - Episode 70 - Tamera Bennett - Gordon Firemark

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Click the arrow below to listen to Episode 70

Dallas, Texas trademark lawyer Tamera Bennett and California film lawyer Gordon Firemark come together for another entertaining and informative episode of the Entertainment Law Update Podcast. 

Tamera and Gordon bring you the latest in entertainment lawsuit news with updates on webcasting rates, the Blurred Lines decision, Monkey Selfies and much more.

2015 Top Cases from Entertainment Law Update Podcast

2015-top-case-entertainment-law-podcast-tamera-bennett-gordon-firemark

Click the arrow below to listen to Episode 69.

California film/TV lawyer Gordon Firemark and Dallas music/trademark lawyer Tamera Bennett, wrap up and count down the top entertainment law cases of 2015 on Episode 69 of the Entertainment Law Update Podcast.

The countdown includes:

Santa Claus is Coming to Town Copyright Grant Termination ruling
Happy Birthday Copyright - Case Settled
Lenz v. Universal - Dancing Baby - Must Make Fair Use Determination
Blurred Lines Case - on Appeal
Innocence of Muslims Ruling (and possible  en banc review)
Pre ‘72 Copyrights – Turtles - Class Action claimants settle without the Turtles
Copyright Office Music Licensing Study – the history and the future
Point Break Live ruling - stage performance (not the new movie)
Monkey Selfies

Entertainment Law Update Podcast - Episode 66 - Live from Dallas

entertainment law podcast live dallas tamera bennett gordon firemark september 2015 episode 66

Dallas trademark lawyer Tamera Bennett and Los Angeles film lawyer Gordon Firemark presented the Entertainment Law Update Podcast before a live studio audience at the Dallas Bar Association on September 23, 2015.

With a full house of sports and entertainment lawyers, Gordon and Tamera chatted in detail about the "Happy Birthday" copyright decision, the DMCA dancing baby decision, and other cases of interest. There's also bonus material revealing "behind the scenes of podcasting for lawyers."

Click the arrow below to listen to Episode 66.

Tamera was also interviewed on KRLD radio about the "Happy Birthday" decision. Click here to listen.

Image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: Drumguy880.