Why a Court Can’t #FreeKesha

Pop sensation Kesha has dominated the news over the past few weeks, and not for the reasons anybody would want. On October 14, 2014, Kesha sued her producer, Dr. Luke. After bouncing around on jurisdictional issues for a few years, the courts are starting to get to the heart of the case. Kesha’s complaint details a litany of horrors, including allegations that Dr. Luke drugged and raped her and frequently threatened her life, family, and career. The complaint further alleges that he verbally harassed Kesha to the extent that she entered a rehab center, where she was allegedly diagnosed with bulimia nervosa, depression, PTSD, social isolation, and panic attacks to the point where “continuing such contact [with Dr. Luke] would be ‘life threatening.’”

Thus, Kesha’s civil case against Dr. Luke seeks damages and an injunction to void Kesha’s contractual relationships with him. And while no person should ever be forced to endure the presence of their abuser, here’s the problem: none of the alleged abuse towards Kesha has much bearing, legally speaking, on her contracts with Dr. Luke.

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Kesha Rose Sebert AKA Ke$ha – Courtesy of Randy Holmes/ABC/Getty

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Sexy People Doing Sexy Things Isn’t Enough: YA Novelist Cassandra Clare Accused of Plagiarism Again

Sexy supernatural men falling in love with and protecting attractive young heroines, and the world, collide as NYT romance bestseller Sherrilyn Kenyon has sued YA bestseller Cassandra Clare for allegedly plagiarizing her hit Dark-Hunter series. Kenyon started writing the Dark-Hunter books in 1998, and has been releasing bestselling novels within that universe consistently ever since. Clare’s first Shadowhunters book, City of Bones, came out in 2007. Both series focus on “elite” warriors that protect the “human world” from an unseen paranormal threat, stopping the enslavement of humanity. Both introduce this concept through a heroine who does not know she is one of these warriors until saved by a handsome, gothic, tattooed, blond man who is a powerful warrior. However; where Kenyon’s books are decidedly adult, featuring some … steamy scenes, Clare’s YA (young adult) novels have reached a much broader audience. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was made into a movie in 2013, and although it was panned by critics and flopped at the box office, a TV show, “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments,” premiered on ABC Family in January of 2016. Apparently this was the last straw, and on February 5, 2016, Kenyon sued Clare for trademark and copyright infringement based on the similarities between the Dark-Hunter and Shadowhunters names and stories.

Ehhhhhhh....

Shadowhunters TV Show – Says it all, really

A juicy tidbit in this story is that this is not the first time Clare has been accused of plagiarism. Continue reading

Graffiti Counts 2: Why Freedom of Speech Doesn’t Save Katy Perry’s MET Gala Dress

Back in August, we covered the outrage surrounding Katy Perry’s attire to the Annual Met Gala. The scandal was twofold, first, Perry’s gown featured an avant-garde graffiti design when the Gala theme was clearly “Chinese exhibition,” and secondly, the graffiti design was taken and used without the artist’s permission, constituting copyright infringement. Ergo; our last post focused on the legality of graffiti, as a clearly copyrightable work, framed in terms of the public sphere versus the public domain, and moral rights. Rime, who created the stolen work, sued Italian luxury fashion house Moschino, and now Moschino has formally responded.

Yeesh.

Katy Perry in the gown at the 2015 Met Gala with the Moschino Creative Director

What did the Five Fingers Say to the Face? SLAPP!

On December 7, 2015, Moschino filed a motion to strike the entire complaint pursuant to California’s Anti-SLAPP statute. SLAPP stands for Continue reading

Brains, Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Derivative Works and the Walking Dead Licensing Controversy

Regardless of how you feel about character development and innovative plot progression, AMC’s The Walking Dead (TWD) is an undeniable hit. Based upon the comic book of the same name by Robert Kirkman, TWD, for the past five years has consistently been one of the top rated TV shows on television, even outperforming Sunday Night Football. It averages 13 million viewers per episode, and about two-thirds of those viewers are in the coveted 18-49 demographic. Three-time Oscar nominee Frank Darabont (The Green Mile; The Shawshank Redemption) brought the TV show to life. He wrote, directed, and produced the pilot episode, and served as the showrunner and executive producer (often-synonymous positions) for its smash-hit first season. It was surprising then, when AMC suddenly fired Darabont while Season 2 was in production, and after sending him to promote the series at Comic-Con. Darabont sued in New York State Court in December of 2013, and recently amended his complaint to include the lack of accreditation and profits allegedly owed him from AMC’s “companion series,” Fear the Walking Dead.

The thirty-page complaint gives a lot of information about Darabont and AMC, but everything generally comes down to the following: Instead of having an unaffiliated company produce TWD, per the original negotiations, AMC produces the show itself. Because AMC both owns and produces TWD, it does not have to negotiate any licensing fees. Thus, when AMC decided to produce TWD in-house, Darabont required AMC, by contract, to use an “imputed” license fee with its production affiliate priced at fair market value. AMC, however, allegedly used a drastically low license fee, forcing production of TWD at a considerable deficit. Thus, although TWD is a hit show, it has unusually low profits and Darabont has not been properly paid. . . For the rest of the story, check out IPWatchdog!

No Sweat, Yoga Poses aren’t Copyrightable

Yoga is “a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being.” When he was four years old, Bikram Choudhury studied yoga in Calcutta, India. In 1971, when he was twenty-five years old, he introduced yoga to Beverly Hills. In 1979, Choudhury published Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class, a book including descriptions, designs, and photographs of how to perform his now-famous, ninety minute sequence of twenty-six hatha yoga postures and two breathing exercises in a studio kept at 104°F (to mimic the Indian climate). Choudhury always emphasized, “If you follow my instruction and do my yoga postures Sequence to the best of your ability, you will live a better, healthier and more peaceful life.” By 1994, he started the “Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Course,” and in 2011 sued two of his former students for starting a yoga studio featuring “hot yoga,” which includes twenty-six postures and two breathing exercises done for ninety minutes in a 105°F room. Continue reading