As the entertainment and media industries continue to undergo fundamental changes, legal disputes have taken on new complexity. The traditional sources of industry litigation—intellectual property and contractual disputes—have been rapidly transformed by a proliferation of new players, financing sources and disruptive technologies.
With the funding of entertainment ventures coming increasingly from outside the industry, both the financial instruments and the private equity, venture capital, and angel investors that control them have added layers of contractual and technological complexity to every sort of deal. Disputes over the disposition of the proceeds or tax credits may take place across multiple geographies, legal systems and business cultures. And lines between sectors—advertising, entertainment, gaming and social media—have become blurred, giving rise to new types of high-stakes IP disputes.
Roots in the Industry
Entertainment and media are firmly rooted in our culture. For over three decades we have been closely linked with the industry, and our deep understanding of the issues confronting your industry is informed by a rich historical perspective.
We know the entertainment community and its players. We have long partnered with them and thoroughly understand their businesses. They trust us to anticipate litigation and take steps to avoid it.
When litigation is threatened, our attorneys are adept at resolving matters efficiently. Our proven abilities at trial give you great leverage in negotiation, which is why most of our cases are either won on the pleadings or settled out of court. Between our courtroom successes and our proven ability to resolve disputes without litigation, you can count on us for outcomes that are at all times consistent with your overriding business imperatives.
Services Across the Board
Our practice is part of a full-service capability with formidable resources in the major industry centers of Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. We bring a multidisciplinary approach to every area of entertainment and media—television, radio, motion pictures, music, art and advertising—as well as to the rapidly proliferating digital aspects of each.
What we do
We routinely handle disputes of every kind, including:
- Copyright infringement
- Breach of contract
- Digital media litigation
- Right of publicity matters
- Idea theft
- Royalty accounting
- Profit participation
- Trademark claims
- False advertising (Lanham Act)
- Digital Millennium Copyright Act claims
Copyrights, Rights of Publicity and Trademarks
- Stoliarov v. Marshmello Creative, LLC et al. (C.D. Cal). Manatt served as lead counsel for defendants Marshmello, Dan Smith (lead singer of Bastille), U.K. producer and songwriter Steve Mac, Polygram, Kobalt Music, and others in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Russian electronic D.J. Artem Stoliarov p/k/a Arty alleging that Marshmello’s hit song “Happier” infringes Stoliarov’s copyright in the song “I Lived (Arty Remix).” The suit raised unique copyright ownership issues with respect to remixes of pre-existing songs, unusual questions concerning causation and damages from live performances of allegedly infringing songs, as well as jurisdictional issues testing the reach of the Copyright Act to non-U.S. defendants. The court granted the defendants’ summary judgment motions in full, successfully concluding the case in our clients’ favor.
- Ticketmaster L.L.C. v. RMG Techs., Inc. (C.D. Cal.). Obtained a preliminary injunction for Ticketmaster based on copyright infringement, violation of Digital Millennium Copyright Act and breach of contract to stop defendant from creating and distributing computer programs that allowed defendant’s clients to “cut in line” in front of regular consumers buying tickets on www.ticketmaster.com website.
- Love v. The Mail on Sunday (C.D. Cal.). Represented Beach Boy Brian Wilson in two separate lawsuits brought by fellow group member Mike Love for copyright infringement, trademark infringement and violation of the right of publicity over the alleged unauthorized use of Love’s image and the Beach Boys’ trademark in connection with Wilson’s compilation CD in the United Kingdom. Obtained judgment for Wilson and attorneys’ fees of approximately $625,000.
- KISS Catalog Ltd. v. Passport Int’l Prods., Inc., (C..D. Cal.). Represented the musical group KISS in the first-known civil action brought under the federal anti-bootlegging statute in connection with the unauthorized sale of concert DVDs.
- Newton v. Diamond. Obtained summary judgment and Ninth Circuit affirmance for defendants in copyright infringement action involving “sampled” sound recording of the musical group The Beastie Boys.
- Silvers v. Sony Pictures Entertainment (9th Cir.). Obtained dismissal, affirmed by the Ninth Circuit, for defendant in copyright infringement action based on standing.
- Selletti v. Mariah Carey, 70 Fed. Appx. 603 (2d Cir.). Obtained dismissal of copyright infringement action against Mariah Carey and Sony Music concerning Ms. Carey’s song “Hero,” which Second Circuit affirmed on appeal.
- Sony Pictures Entm’t Inc. v. Fireworks Entm’t Group, Inc. (C.D. Cal.). 156 F. Supp. 2d 1148 (C.D. Cal.): Prosecuted copyright infringement and unfair competition action involving character “Zorro” and the movie Mask of Zorro.
- Freeman v. Timberlake (S.D.N.Y.). Represented music publishers against copyright infringement claims involving *NSYNC’s hit song “Girlfriend” and remix “Girlfriend featuring Nelly.”
- Gaillard v. Rolling Stones (C.D. Cal.): Represented the Rolling Stones in the defense of a copyright infringement claim involving the song “Saint of Me” from the Rolling Stones’ album Bridges to Babylon.
- LaCour v. Time Warner Inc., et al. Represented recording artist and songwriter Robert Kelly, his record label, and music publisher in a copyright infringement lawsuit over the composition “I Believe I Can Fly.”
- Pahler v. Slayer. Represented recording group Slayer in groundbreaking First Amendment wrongful death lawsuit over song lyrics; California Court of Appeal affirmed trial court demurrer based on First Amendment defense.
- 24/7 Records, Inc. v. Sony Music Entertainment. Represented record company defendants in breach of contract and tortious interference action arising out of refusal to distribute plaintiff’s cover recording of “The Ketchup Song”; obtained summary judgment and Second Circuit affirmance on main claims by establishing that plaintiff failed to secure license for use of “The Ketchup Song” composition; on remaining claims, obtained summary judgment ruling that plaintiff suffered no compensatory damages.
- Humphrey v. CBS Sportsline.com. Obtained dismissal of action alleging that online fantasy sports leagues constitute illegal gambling in violation of laws of numerous states.
- Steinbeck v. McIntosh & Otis, Inc., 433 F. Supp. 2d 395 (S.D.N.Y.). Obtained summary judgment ruling that son and granddaughter of John Steinbeck validly exercised federal “termination” rights to retrieve book publishing rights in Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath and other Steinbeck works under the Copyright Act, despite a 1994 agreement book publisher reached with John Steinbeck’s widow that purported to eliminate those rights.
- Rowe Entm’t, Inc. v. William Morris Agency, Inc. (S.D.N.Y.). Defended two prominent booking agencies and obtained summary judgment and Second Circuit affirmance in action alleging race discrimination and antitrust violations in concert promotion industry.
- Cusano v. Horipro Entm’t Group (S.D.N.Y.). Obtained summary judgment and Second Circuit affirmance for music publisher in action brought by former member of musical group KISS, claiming fraud, conversion and constructive trust in connection with the sale of musical compositions.
- Sheffield Enters., Inc. v. The Main Event Inc. (C.D. Cal.). Obtained a jury verdict and permanent injunction on behalf of a company owned by the children of Frank Sinatra to block an unauthorized Frank Sinatra “tribute” in Las Vegas.
- Faulkner. v. Arista Records LLC (S.D.N.Y.). Defended record label against purported breach of contract and fiduciary duty claims brought by former members of The Bay City Rollers seeking millions of dollars in allegedly unpaid royalties.
- Anschutz Entm’t Group v. Nederlander-Downtown, Inc. (Cal. Sup. Ct.). Represented Anschutz Entertainment Group in claim against concert promoter Nederlander over concert booking rights to the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
- LA Arena Co. v. Forum Enterprises, Inc. (Cal. Sup. Ct. and C.D. Cal.). Represented Anschutz Entertainment Group affiliate in dispute over the booking rights to concerts at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
- Crane v. Concerts West (D.C. Nev.). Represented concert promoter Concerts West, the producer and originator of the Celine Dion show at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, in connection with a breach of contract/idea submission lawsuit by a claimant alleging to be the originator or “finder” of the project.
- Mizell v. Concord Records, LLC (Cal. Sup. Ct.). Represented record label Concord Records in a breach of contract/idea submission claim asserted by party alleging to have originated the idea for the Grammy Award-winning Ray Charles album Genius Loves Company.
- Greene Trio Music LLC v. Jackson (Cal. Sup. Ct.). Obtained summary judgment for record producer and television personality Randy Jackson, affirmed on appeal, in connection with a breach of fiduciary duty claim brought by music publisher alleging that copyrights to songs cowritten with recording artist Mariah Carey had been “diverted” from the music publisher to Carey’s publishing designee.
- Image Entertainment Inc. v. BTP Acquisition Company LLC (Cal. Sup. Ct.). Represented home video distributor in connection with breach of video distribution agreement as well as companion claims arising out of a proposed merger transaction.
- Estate of Michael Jeffrey v. Warner Bros. Records Inc. (App. Div.). Defended record company in action brought by estate of former manager of legendary musical artist Jimi Hendrix, claiming royalties in connection with sale and distribution of Hendrix records; obtained dismissal, affirmed on appeal.
- Moses Prods. v. Sweetland Films (N.Y. Sup. Ct.). Defended film producer in highly publicized lawsuit brought by Woody Allen’s film company relating to financing of Allen’s feature films; settled action during trial.
- Betts v. Allman Brothers Band (AAA). Defended musical group in a highly publicized arbitration relating to Dickey Betts’ departure from the group.
- Dwight McGhee v. MTV Networks, Randy Jackson (Cal. Sup. Ct.). Represent television personality Randy Jackson in idea submission case over MTV show America’s Best Dance Crew.
Class Action Lawsuits
- Druyan v. Jagger, 508 F.Supp. 2d 228 (S.D.N.Y.): Obtained dismissal of class action alleging that Ticketmaster and The Rolling Stones had violated consumer protection laws by cancelling concert due to performers' illness.
- BMG Direct Mktg., Inc. v.Peake, 178 S.W.3d 763 (Tex.): Obtained reversal, in the Texas Supreme Court, of class certification in an action involving our client's late fees.
- Taylor v. BMG Direct Mktg.,Inc., 749 N.Y.S.2d 31 (App. Div.); Zuckerman v. BMG Direct Mktg., Inc., 737 N.Y.S.2d 14 (App. Div.): Defended record club in class actions challenging marketing practices, including offer of free compact discs and application of shipping and handling charges; obtained dismissals, affirmed on appeal, in precedent-setting decisions under New York Deceptive Practices Act, G.B.L. § 349.