Communications, Media & Entertainment

Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney for what she claims is a breach of her contract to play the Black Widow character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie franchise. Just three months after Johansson signed an amendment to her contract to play the role, Disney’s then CEO announced on a conference call with Wall Street analysts its plans to launch their Disney Plus subscription streaming platform. Fast forward to July 9, 2021, Marvel’s live-action feature film entitled Black Widow starring Johansson in the lead role was released on Disney Plus the same day it hit theaters. Her 2017 contract allegedly provides…
The widower of the ghost writer of a non-fiction book about Four Seasons member, Tommy DeVito, failed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court[i] to review a ruling that the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys” did not infringe an unpublished autobiography. Plaintiff claimed DeVito had given the producers a copy of the unpublished book written in the 1980s and that the musical’s creators had plagiarized it.The musical, Jersey Boys, depicts the history of a popular musical group, the Four Seasons, from its origins in Belleville, New Jersey, in the 1950s. The play launched on Broadway in 2005 and ran for more than ten years. The play also went on…
Scarlett Johansson, the star of Black Widow, has sued Disney for releasing the movie  without first giving it an exclusive theatrical release. Her deal provided for substantial bonuses tied to box office  receipts. The film’s theatrical revenue was disappointing perhaps because it was also released on Disney’s new Disney+ platform on  the same day that it premiered in theaters. This may have encouraged fans to sign up for its  new SVOD  service benefiting Disney+. But if  streaming release reduced box office revenue, then it reduced Johansson’s compensation. Johansson is claiming  that Disney, caused Marvel, its subsidiary, to breach its contract…
The California state legislature is determined to boost the construction of new soundstages in Hollywood, increasing the number of productions filmed there and ultimately creating more jobs.  A new bill was recently announced that stands to gift the film and TV tax credit program an extra $330 million. The credit would allocate $180m over two years and a $150m tax incentive to be used on building new soundstages. Keep in mind this is in addition to the $330 million California already provides Hollywood in annual tax credits. Senator Anthony Portantino and assembly members Autumn Burke and Wendy Carrillo are sponsors…
While all Americans have the right to sell or license the rights to their NIL, college athletes forfeited this entitlement as part of the terms of signing scholarship contracts. However, this will no longer be the case. For college athletes, receiving compensation for the use of their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) is currently a hot topic of discussion.  The NCAA has received its share of pressure to set rules and guidelines for the use of NILs by college athletes. Without a federal law in place, states must pass legislation to allow college athletes to cash in on their NIL.…
 Filmmakers often ask if they need a release when they are shooting in public and capturing the images of people without their consent. Usually, persons photographed in a public place do not have a legal right to stop you  from taking pictures of them to use in your film. But that is not always the case depending on the circumstances and how you use the images.  If a  photo is used, for instance,  to promote the sale of spaghetti sauce, you likely will  need to secure a release because while you are not violating the subjects’ rights of privacy by…
Influencers Social media influencers and creatives have learned to monetize their fame and new changes are increasing revenues across the board. As an attorney for social media influencers, I’ve had a bird’s eye view of the rise of social commerce and the methods, integrations, and contracts that make it profitable for my clients. Influencers that use brands not only to monetize but create an even deeper connection with their followers are reaping the benefits. Some important players in the e-commerce space have taken notice. New SaaS and print-on-demand services are integrating with social media giving even more opportunities for monetization.Within…
How to handle your management relationship in an area with few formal rules and standards. Influencers have been disrupting the online advertising world for several years now, challenging traditional advertising methods and creatively leveraging their popularity for brand promotions. Since 2019 the influencer social media advertising space has skyrocketed, benefitting many influencers, but also allowing some to be taken advantage of by their managers and agents. With the tightening of privacy policies and calls for enhanced privacy rights in tracking online activity, companies need influencers to expand their brand reach and create brand buzz. Unfortunately, some creators and influencers are…
I’m often contacted by producers, writers, software designers/engineers and other creative professionals concerned about the provisions of a media or IP company’s employment agreement they are considering.  Typically the company’s proposed employment offer letter or agreement and attached standard terms will aggressively provide that the company owns all of your creative work without making any distinction as to creative works and/or projects that you created or contributed to prior to your taking the position with the company.  Also, many creatives have ongoing obligations to other co-creators on pre-existing projects with respect to which they’ve already invested significant amounts of money…