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Entertainment Law

Law Offices of Ernest Goodman > Entertainment Law

How New AB-5 Law Affects the Entertainment Industry in California

The state's attempts to regulate gig drivers working for companies like Uber and Lyft have had unintended consequences, particularly impacting the independent film industry. While the legislation was designed to address issues surrounding worker classification and ensure fair treatment for gig economy workers, its broad scope has inadvertently ensnared freelance professionals in other sectors, including filmmaking....

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Common Law Trademarks

Imagine this scenario: You start a film production company in California and use a distinctive name for your business over several years. By consistently operating under this specific name, you naturally acquire common law trademark rights. These rights play a crucial role in protecting your business's identity. They essentially prevent other film production companies in the same geographical area from using an identical or confusingly similar name. This form of protection is grounded in unfair competition laws, which are designed to avoid confusion among consumers and safeguard the reputation and brand recognition you've established for your film production company....

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Screenplay Scam: The Risk of Upfront Payments to Producers, Agents, and Managers

In my recent interactions with new filmmakers, I've observed a concerning trend involving management contracts. These filmmakers approach me to review contracts they've been offered, which often require substantial upfront payments — typically $2,000 or more. Novice filmmakers have been approached by individuals, usually with some experience in film, who offer these services. Let's refer to them as "individuals." These contracts, supposedly for managerial services, promise to find financiers and sell screenplays, especially at prestigious venues like the American Film Market (AFM) or the Cannes Film Festival. However, these promises often verge on being scams....

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Descriptive Trademarks: The Challenges of Registration

Descriptive trademarks, therefore, occupy a middle ground. Unlike generic terms, they can achieve trademark status, but unlike suggestive marks, they do not start out with inherent distinctiveness. To be protectable, a descriptive mark must cross a threshold where the primary significance in the minds of the consuming public is not the product but the producer. This is the concept of acquired distinctiveness or secondary meaning....

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Tips for film distributors

In the intriguing case of Randles Films v Quantum Releasing (2014), the complexities of copyright law, particularly the extraterritoriality limitation of the US Copyright Act, come to the forefront. This case serves as a pivotal example of how copyright laws are applied in cross-border disputes and the extent to which US copyright protections extend beyond its borders....

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Exploring the Polaroid Doctrine in Trademark Law

The Polaroid Doctrine, which is a fundamental concept in United States trademark law, was established by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. This doctrine emerged from the 1961 case of Polaroid Corp. v. Polarad Elecs. Corp., where the court developed a set of factors to assess the likelihood of consumer confusion in trademark infringement cases....

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The Doctrine of Work for Hire is Often Misunderstood

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Today, we're going to talk about the doctrine of work for hire in copyright law. Often, there can be situations where you think you own a copyright because the work was made for hire for you or your production company. But, in fact, contrary to what the contract states, you might own nothing. Let's explore the caveats and ways to solve this problem. Many think that just because they have a contract with artists and have paid for the work, they own the copyrights. Let's say you own a film production company and you've hired a screenwriter to write a screenplay....

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Trademark Clearance for Screenwriters: Navigating the Legal Landscape

Trademark clearance is a critical step for screenwriters to protect their work and avoid legal entanglements. By understanding what needs to be cleared, avoiding certain words, and following best practices, screenwriters can navigate these legal waters with greater confidence and security. Always remember, when in doubt, seek legal advice to ensure that your creative work remains both original and compliant....

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Types of Film Distribution Agreements

Each of these distribution deals offers distinct advantages and challenges, tailored to the varying needs of a film's production and marketing strategy. The choice of a deal is influenced by factors such as the film's budget, target audience, market trends, and the reputation of the involved parties. As the film industry continues to evolve with digital technologies and changing viewer habits, these distribution models also adapt, reflecting the dynamic nature of film distribution in the global market....

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Exploring the Strength of Different Types of Trademarks

The strength of a trademark significantly impacts its protectability and effectiveness in identifying and distinguishing a brand. Generic trademarks offer no protection due to their commonality. Descriptive trademarks are protectable only after acquiring a secondary meaning. Suggestive trademarks, being more abstract, are inherently protectable. Arbitrary trademarks rank among the strongest due to their uniqueness and distinctiveness....

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