Law Offices of Mark Litwak & Associates

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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to convince the U.S. Supreme Court[i] to review a ruling that the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys” did not infringe an unpublished autobiography. Plaintiff claimed DeVito had given the producers a copy of the unpublished book written in the 1980s and that the musical’s creators had plagiarized it.The musical, Jersey Boys, depicts the history of a popular musical group, the Four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…
 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…
Writers and filmmakers need to understand their legal rights and how to defend themselves from those who may seek to exploit them or falsely claim their rights have been infringed. This seminar explains how writers and filmmakers can prevent problems from arising by properly securing underlying rights, and by encouraging other parties to live up to agreements with performance incentives, audit rights, default penalties, and arbitration clauses. In the event of a dispute, participants learn what remedies are available to enforce their rights. Other topics include defamation; invasion of privacy; protecting your stories and avoiding being sued when portraying others;…
Cuyuga Nation Loses Defamation Lawsuit Against Showtime’s Billions The Indian tribe Cuyaga Nation and tribal council member Clint Halftown sued Showtime alleging that an episode of the television series Billions falsely portrayed them as having been involved in an illegal casino land deal, bribery of a public official, and blackmail. Defamation is a communication that harms the reputation of another so as to lower the person in the opinion of the community.  In July 2020, New York Trial Judge Kathryn E. Freed dismissed the suit, finding the Cayuga Nation cannot sue for defamation in response to the series because the allegedly defamatory material involved…
After 14 years of negotiations, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE) was signed into law by President Trump. The legislation was buried in the omnibus bill that includes $900 billion in coronavirus relief and stimulus spending, and another $1.4 trillion to run the government through September. This new law means that those who post copyrighted material without permission can face up to $30,000 in penalties.   The Act essentially creates a small claims process that makes it easier for photographers, designers, songwriters, and other creatives to protect their work against copyright infringement. The new law creates a Copyright Claims Board within the Copyright…
Actor Johnny Depp has lost his lawsuit against the British newspaper The Sun, which had claimed he had beaten his former wife Amber Heard. The couple met in 2011 during production of “The Rum Diary,” and married in 2015. She was 22 and he was 45. Heard filed for divorce about a year later. She had obtained a temporary restraining order against Depp after claiming he had struck her. However, she later withdrew the claim and in 2017 agreed to a 7 million dollar divorce settlement. Defamation is a communication that harms the reputation of another, so as to lower him in the…