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movies film and videos

Duking it out

by Walter Olson on July 10, 2014

Duke University and the heirs of the late actor John Wayne have been fighting in court for nearly a decade over trademark/licensing rights to the word “Duke” [Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter]

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The government-backed, lottery-funded British Film Institute, which backs a substantial portion of film production in Britain, “announced a ‘Three Ticks’ scheme to ensure diversity in films and behind the scenes as it set out new rules for funding. Under the system, to be implemented in September, films must ‘tick’ at least two of three criteria: on-screen diversity; off-screen diversity and ‘creating opportunities and social mobility’.” [Telegraph]

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The state legislature adjourned last week having abandoned a threat to seize the hit TV show “House of Cards” through the use of eminent domain, with negotiations over the extent of tax subsidies to the show still hanging in part. I’ve got an update at Cato, with specific attention to the use of eminent domain to confiscate moveable and intangible assets, as opposed to land; in earlier episodes, Maryland has gone after the Baltimore Colts football team (which escaped) and the Preakness horse race (which agreed to stay).

Kind of like Venezuela with Old Bay seasoning: “Responding to a threat that the “House of Cards” television series may leave Maryland if it doesn’t get more tax credits, the House of Delegates adopted budget language Thursday requiring the state to seize the production company’s property if it stops filming in the state. … Del. William Frick, a Montgomery County Democrat, proposed the provision, which orders the state to use the right of eminent domain to buy or condemn the property of any company that has claimed $10 million or more credits against the state income tax. The provision would appear to apply only to the Netflix series, which has gotten the bulk of the state credits.” [Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, earlier citing David Boaz]

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Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on March 14, 2014

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Megan McArdle at Cato

by Walter Olson on February 28, 2014


She talked about her new book The Up Side of Down, on failure, which has many policy implications (and quotes me on “blamestorming”); her examples included Hollywood production cost overruns, New Coke, L.A.’s healthy school lunch program, and (in the book) Avenue Q. Arnold Kling contributed very illuminating comments, and my Cato colleague Dalibor Rohac moderated. More here (including audio podcast version) and at Arnold Kling’s site.

Four U.S. Senators are hectoring the Golden Globe Awards over stars’ televised use of e-cigarettes. “We ask the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and NBC Universal to take actions to ensure that future broadcasts of the Golden Globes do not intentionally feature images of e-cigarettes,” wrote the humorless bossyboots in question, Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Edward Markey (Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio), all Democrats. [Reuters] More: Sally Satel (“It didn’t seem as though it really proved to be a gateway to anything.”)

Speaking of glamor, don’t miss Virginia Postrel’s appearance at Cato next Wednesday to discuss her book The Power of Glamour: Persuasion, Longing, and Individual Aspiration. You can register here.

Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on January 15, 2014

  • Setback for climate scientist Michael Mann in defamation suit against critics [Jonathan Adler, Mark Steyn, earlier here and here; update, Mann wins a round] Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has taken interest on defendants’ side [Steyn] “Blogger’s Incarceration Raises First Amendment Questions” [NYT on Shuler case in Alabama, on which earlier; more]
  • Religious liberty: “When thought is a crime, no other freedom can long survive.” [Doug Bandow]
  • Nigeria’s new jail-the-gays law is brutally repressive toward speech and association. Oil-rich country gets upwards of $500 million in US foreign aid a year [Reuters, AP and followup, Al-Jazeera]
  • Members of Ramapough tribe in New Jersey sue Hollywood over “Out of the Furnace” depiction [AP]
  • “California’s New Law Shows It’s Not Easy To Regulate Revenge Porn” [Eric Goldman]
  • Catching up on the Ampersand case, where the NLRB got slapped down trying to restrict newspaper owner’s First Amendment rights [Harry G. Hutchison]
  • Video interview with noted civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate [Cato]

“A federal judge in Mississippi today ruled Sony Pictures Classics had the right to use a nine-word quote from William Faulkner’s Requiem For A Nun in Woody Allen’s 2011 film.” [Deadline.com, earlier]

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Guns roundup

by Walter Olson on May 23, 2013

  • Andrew Cuomo threatened county sheriffs with retaliation unless they stopped publicly criticizing his gun plan [Albany Times-Union; his brutally coercive style in an earlier gun controversy]
  • Quick Obama signing predicted: “USA shows strong support for new global Arms Trade Treaty” [Amnesty International] Senate less enthusiastic about it [The Hill] A dissent: non-lefty Prof. Ku doesn’t think treaty poses big gun control danger [Opinio Juris]
  • “A pencil is a weapon when it is pointed at someone in a threatening way and gun noises are made” [NBC Washington] Time was when you could get the counselors on your case if you *didn’t* bring a Swiss Army knife on a nature trip [Free-Range Kids] “High School Student Expelled for Unloaded Gun Forgotten In Trunk” [same]
  • “Studios fret that New York’s gun laws could hamper film production” [NYTimes]
  • “Why maximal enforcement of federal gun laws is not always a good idea” [Kopel] “The Worst Gun Control Idea Has Bipartisan Support” (new mandatory minimums for firearm possession; Daniel Denvir, The New Republic)
  • D.C. council holds hearing on proposal for mandatory liability insurance for gun ownership; Mayor Vincent Gray doesn’t like idea [WaPo, Eric Newcomer/Examiner, Insurance Journal, CBS Washington; earlier here, etc.]
  • “Yes, They Are Coming For People’s Guns in California” [Brian Doherty]

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“A 41-year-old actress who claimed the Internet Movie Database unfairly disclosed her real age lost a case against the site this week after a federal jury in Seattle rejected her lawsuit.” [Mashable, AP/USA Today; earlier]

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“Human rights advocates claim that the depiction of torture in popular TV shows has had the effect of promoting the practice in real life, implying that the production companies may have failed to meet their responsibility to respect human rights as articulated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.” [Faris Natour, JustMeans.com; Wired on Zero Dark Thirty] “So, ban Schindler’s List?” [@susanwake]

Meanwhile, the regime in Iran says it will sue over its depiction in the movie “Argo” [CNN; more from Wikipedia on French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, whose attempts to marry imprisoned terrorist Carlos the Jackal "have been frustrated by legal issues"]

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When Andrew Henderson videotaped police frisking a man about to be transported by ambulance in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, an officer confiscated his handheld videocamera, allegedly for evidence: “If I end up on YouTube, I’m gonna be upset.” Later, when Henderson sought to get his camera back, the sheriff’s office refused and instead charged him with misdemeanors. Among the notes on the citation: “Data privacy HIPAA violation.” A Stanford law professor says it would be nonsense to regard HIPAA, the federal health privacy law, as constraining the activity of bystanders like Henderson who are not legally defined as health providers. [St. Paul Pioneer Press]

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The “public domain” isn’t just some hedonistic collective consumption good, but a vital resource for creators; thus Disney was able to base its golden-age animation features on literary properties and tropes that it could freely transform without permission. Among the properties we could have started freely transforming and remixing in this country had Congress not unilaterally and drastically extended copyright lengths: The King and I, Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, My Fair Lady, and the novel 101 Dalmatians. [Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain via BB, similar, related]

Priceless Mayan-inspired mystical totem, or late Nineteenth Century German artifact aimed at the tourist trade? In “Indiana Jones and the Bogus Lawsuit,” Kevin at Lowering the Bar goes on the authentication trail.

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November 13 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 13, 2012

  • New law grads and others, come work for liberty at the Cato Institute’s legal associate program [Ilya Shapiro]
  • Lawsuit against United Nations seeks compensation for mass cholera outbreak in Haiti [Kristen Boon, Opinio Juris]
  • “Parents Sue Energy Drink After Girl’s Death” [NBC Washington; Hagerstown, Md.] “The New York Times Reveals That 18 Servings of an Energy Drink Might Be Excessive” [Jacob Sullum]
  • Claim: There is no explosion of patent litigation [Adam Mossoff, Truth on the Market, and further]
  • “After Inmates Sue for Dental Floss, Jailers Explain the Security Risk” [ABA Journal, earlier]
  • Court: First Amendment protects right of “The Bachelor” producers to consider contestants’ race [Volokh, earlier]
  • From Florida tobacco litigation to an, um, interesting higher-education startup [Inside Higher Ed, h/t Overlawyered commenter Jeff H.]

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Settling a prospect of litigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act:

Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK), one of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors, today announced that it is providing an audio description option for people who are blind or have visual impairments in all of its first-run theatres. …

In audio description (also known as descriptive narration) a narrator provides vocal description of key visual aspects of a movie, such as descriptions of scenery, facial expressions, costumes, action settings, and scene changes, described audibly during natural pauses in dialogue or critical sound elements.

[Lainey Feingold via Sam Bagenstos, Disability Law]

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Sony Pictures has decried the suit as frivolous:

In Midnight In Paris, Gil Pender, the disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter played by Owen Wilson, says, “the past is not dead. Actually, it’s not even past. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right. And I met him, too. I ran into him at a dinner party.” The rightsholder[s] say the slightly paraphrased quote could “deceive the infringing film’s viewers as to a perceived affiliation, connection or association between William Faulkner and his works, on the one hand, and Sony, on the other hand.”

David Olson, a professor of law at Boston College (and no relation), disputed the notion that a license was needed just because the movie was intended to make a profit. “Commercial use isn’t presumptively unfair” he said. He said no one watches “Midnight in Paris” as a substitute for buying “Requiem for a Nun.” [Deadline.com, Washington Post]

P.S. “Is the complaint written in Faulknerese?” [@jslubinski]

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