On Monday a California appeals court handed down a decision in the closely watched case of de Havilland v. FX Networks, LLC et al., triggering a collective sigh of relief from studios, networks, and other content producers. The court’s decision reaffirms two widely recognized principles: (1) that the First Amendment’s protection of creative works is not limited by the mere fact that a work generates income, and (2) that an individual cannot censor the way in which she is depicted in a creative work merely because she does not like that depiction.
These principles, as applied to the entertainment industry, have been challenged in recent years with a wave of cases such as de Havilland. For instance, a case in New York, Porco v. Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, was allowed to proceed after an appellate court held that the newsworthiness exception to New York’s statutory right of publicity did not apply to a docudrama that substantially fictionalized the life story of a real person. The court stated that such a work was “mainly a product of the imagination” and thus “nothing more than [an] attempt to trade on the persona of the plaintiff.” Continue reading
The last few months have seen a number of high-profile deals in episodic programming, spurred in part by the entry of a number of significant new players in the marketplace. Here are a few particularly noteworthy entries:
Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon Morning Show Drama Lands at Apple With Two-Season Order
Apple is anticipated to become a major purchaser of entertainment content, and it made a splash with its first show announcement – a two-season order for a show starring and executive produced by Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, set inside the cutthroat world of morning television.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Kingkiller Chronicle’ Series Set At Showtime
Everyone is looking for the next “Game of Thrones and “The Kingkiller Chronicles,” in development at Showtime and based on Patrick Rothfuss’s acclaimed fantasy series, may be it. “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is attached to executive produce, and will contribute music to the series – a key development as music is an important component of Rothfuss’s books. Continue reading
Inside Counsel’s Senior Editor & Community Manager, Rich Steeves, published a five-part series titled “Where Former Entertainment GCs Go Next” last week, which was prominently featured on the Inside Counsel website.
The series, which discussed the so called “third act” for successful general counsel, provided a comprehensive profile of CDAS and the services the firm provides to clients, while also discussing the appeal the firm has had for former GCs in their transition to a new environment.
CDAS Partners Aileen Atkins, Frederick Bimbler, Douglas Jacobs, Eleanor Lackman, Marc Simon and Stephen Sheppard were interviewed for the series. You can find a link to each part of the series below.
PART 1: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2015/04/27/third-act-where-former-entertainment-gcs-go-next-p
PART 2: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2015/04/28/third-act-where-former-entertainment-gcs-go-next-p
PART 3: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2015/04/29/third-act-where-former-entertainment-gcs-go-next-p
PART 4: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2015/04/30/third-act-where-former-entertainment-gcs-go-next-p
PART 5: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2015/05/01/third-act-where-former-entertainment-gcs-go-next-p
This is part two of this blog series. Part one can be found here.
This is one of the threshold questions for producers seeking to adapt formats – how much control, if any, will the originator of the format have over the adaptation? On one hand, the format originator has a creative and financial attachment to the original show; it is in its best interest that the format is treated sensitively, packaged appropriately and produced at a budget and quality level that will enable it to succeed – because if the adaptation fails, the “brand value” of the format could be tainted for the long-term. On the other hand, the adapting producer and its local production partners are probably best positioned to understand the tastes and culture of the target market and navigate any regulatory issues. Continue reading
The market for quality narrative television has heated up globally over the past few years. Fueled by the emergence of new digital platforms and business models, the reliance of multiplexes on blockbuster genre films, and the growth of “binge viewing” of TV content, audiences have become increasingly hungry for high quality, serialized content that they can consume across devices. Accordingly, an increasing number of distributors – broadcast and online alike – have sought to follow the lead of AMC (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead) and Netflix (House of Cards, Orange is The New Black, Marco Polo) by using high quality scripted shows to build and distinguish their brands. Continue reading
CDAS Attorney Doug Jacobs will be speaking at this year’s “CFX Live”, on March 25th, at 2:50. CFX Live is a conference hosted by CableFax with a central focus on the Television industry. Doug will be focusing his discussion on the topic of “over the top” (“OTT”) content distribution, and the relevant business and legal issues that must be addressed both short and long term. To learn more about this event, be sure to click here.
Following today’s earlier announcement that Former General Counsel of A&E, Doug Jacobs, was joining the firm as a Partner, Mr. Jacobs had an opportunity to speak with Jon Lafayette, Business Editor at Broadcasting & Cable, about the transition. Mr. Jacobs touched upon the current state of the Television Business, as well as the future of the business as it relates to new technology and developments.
You can find the full article here.
Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP (CDAS) is proud to announce that Doug Jacobs, recently Executive Vice President and Senior Counsel of A&E Television Networks, has joined the firm as a partner in its New York office. Mr. Jacobs’ practice will primarily focus on matters involving the cable television industry and the evolving digital media universe, building on his almost 20 years as general counsel at several major cable networks.
By Simon N. Pulman
Consumption of online video continues to grow at a rapid pace. Online video ad revenue is projected to reach nearly $5 billion in 2016, while premium streaming video distributors including Netflix, Hulu Plus and Yahoo are stepping up their licensing and commissioning of original content. Most industry observers believe that online video – notably to the extent consumed through mobile devices – is an important component in the future of the internet.
In order to capitalize upon the growth in online video, media companies (both traditional and emerging) are creating dedicated divisions aimed at developing and producing a full range of video content, ranging from micro-short form clips with strong potential for sharing via social media (e.g., Vine), to original series and even feature length motion pictures. Certain companies may also break away from traditional film and television formats to experiment with new forms of video and transmedia content.
In this new ecosystem, certain fundamental principles remain. Regardless of video format or distribution platforms, all innovative business practices must be built upon a strong foundation of legal experience, necessary due diligence and robust content production and distribution expertise. Nonetheless, there are a few business and legal issues that deserve special consideration by the next-generation video content company. Here are three issues to consider with respect to the future of video: Continue reading
By Simon N. Pulman
As the marketplace for entertainment content becomes increasingly global and the middle classes in the BRICS nations (i.e., Brazil, China, Russia, India and South Africa) become both larger and equipped with greater disposable income, content owners of all kinds are looking exploit their intellectual properties in international markets. As part of this process, content producers are seeking to shoot substantial portions of their films and television shows in the target markets themselves, in order to appeal to foreign audiences in a more effective and authentic manner (e.g., Transformers 4, which shot in several locations in China and is on course to make more money there than in the United States), as well as to take advantage of certain foreign tax credits and subsidies.
However, content producers should be aware that there are very real risks nestled among the benefits of creating content in foreign jurisdictions. In addition to the possibility that foreign partners may be accustomed to different cultural standards and courses of dealing when it comes to negotiation and due diligence, or may feel aggrieved and become litigious once they see the finished product (as occurred with Transformers 4 and several of its brand partners), producers must be aware of their potential exposure to liability under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), as well as under the UK Bribery Act and local laws and regulations focused on reducing bribery and other corrupt practices. Continue reading