Film producer Elie Samaha says he was blackmailed into carrying out the budget-padding scheme that ultimately cost Intertainment Licensing more than $100 million. <br clear="none"/><br clear="none"/>
- Harvard, Berklee Offer Services To Artists
- Congressman Calls For ClearPlay Settlement
- Artists Divided On File-Sharing
- Ex-Backup Singers Sue Sunshine Band
- MPA: Trade Barriers Hurt Film Biz
- Producer: I Was Forced To Pad Film Budgets
- Cable Execs Decry FCC 'Censorship'
- Critics Blast 'Cable Guy' Al Gore
- A Chat With Jack Valenti
- French Senate Votes This Week On E-Commerce Law
- EMI Promotes Ende, Foster-Key
- French Piracy Watchdog Bites Back
- WIPO Unit Seeks Updated Trademark Treaty
- Spotlight: Warner Bros. Hitching Post, Legacy Recordings
- Those Who Gave Lives Not Political Pawns
- U.K. High Court Hears Contract Breach Case
- New Filings: PepsiCo, Kenneth Cole, Time Warner
Harvard, Berklee Offer Services To Artists
By Melinda Newman
LOS ANGELES--Struggling musicians can turn to Harvard University's hallowed halls for help.
Now in its sixth year, Harvard Law School's Recording Artists' Project (RAP) offers legal assistance to Boston area artists. And the venerable institution has just struck a deal with nearby Berklee School of Music to provide business services.
"It works like an exchange," says Bakari Brock, a second-year Harvard law student who participates in the program.
Berklee students will now serve as "business advocates" for RAP's clients. "They can help people create business models, set up new ventures. We've always cross-promoted events, but now we can further share upon each other's resources."
If the pilot program goes well, Brock says it will roll out to include more Berklee business students in RAP.
Harvard law students created RAP in 1998. "They were interested in the music field and saw the need for the potential client base," says Brian Price, who is one of the two supervising attorneys who manages RAP.
"They felt there was exploitation in the music industry. Artists don't know the contracts they're signing. They could empower artists to make educated decisions," says Price.
RAP's clients are artists, small labels, managers, and production companies. "Most people do need help in terms of understanding the contracts," Price says. "We also help with trademark searches and registrations."
RAP's work is strictly transactional civil law. Participating law students work at the center for course credit.
RAP conducts intake interviews with its clients and will often ask for tax returns to make sure the person is not earning too much to use its services.
"We look at what they can afford to pay, but if their primary occupation is being an artist, they can't afford much," Brock says. "It's usually a no-brainer. You usually don't have a wealthy individual asking for pro bono work."
Payment is on a sliding scale based on the client's income, but most cases are pro bono. "Sometimes we charge them a small feel so they feel invested," Brock says.
RAP attracts clients through word of mouth in the music community, but it also advertises its services on local radio.
The participating law students generally handle case loads of up to five or six clients. "Once they've left here, they've seen record company contracts and licensing agreements," Price says. "The program offers the students the chance to practice in a realistic setting while still in law school."
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Congressman Calls For ClearPlay Settlement
By Brooks Boliek
WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter)--A powerful House committee chairman is pressing for a settlement between the Directors Guild of America and ClearPlay.
ClearPlay offers technology that allows DVD players to skip over violence, nudity and other potentially objectionable content in movies.
In 2002, Salt Lake City-based ClearPlay was sued for copyright infringement in Colorado federal court by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh and other members of the DGA. Back then, the filtering product was available only as a computer program.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., has instructed the committee's copyright panel to investigate the dispute between ClearPlay and the DGA, with a mid-May target for a hearing, according to Committee spokesman Jeff Lungren.
"Chairman Sensenbrenner would prefer the parties to reach agreement to thereby eliminate the need for Congress to act on this issue, but nontheless the chairman is prepared to have a hearing on it and is obviously closely monitoring the situation," Lungren says.
If the company and the directors refuse to settle their legal differences, then Sensenbrenner plans to introduce legislation that, if passed, would end the dispute.
The exact nature of Sensenbrenner's legislation is unclear, but the Judiciary Committee's action comes as the debate over indecent content aired on TV and radio rages in Washington.
The DGA says through its technology, ClearPlay is altering copyrighted artistic works without the permission of the rights holder. While the DGA refuses to comment on Sensenbrenner's plans, the organization has said that the ClearPlay device "edits movies to conform to ClearPlay's vision of a movie instead of letting audiences see, and judge for themselves, what writers wrote, what actors said and what directors envisioned."
"The public is well-served by the interest and involvement of Chairman Sensenbrenner, as well as Sub-Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch and Rep. Chris Cannon," says ClearPlay CEO Bill Aho. "Both the DGA and the studios would like to make something work that is both good for families and acceptable to the movie industry."
Meanwhile, ClearPlay says its product doesn't violate copyright laws. Instead, it is analogous to the fast-forward, mute, skip and playback functions on a garden-variety DVD player.
The ClearPlay technology is built into a $79 DVD player from Thomson Inc.'s RCA brand and is available as a stand-alone program for computers.
ClearPlay's technology doesn't physically alter a DVD. Instead, it provides software-driven filters that change the way a movie is played on ClearPlay-enabled DVD players, automatically muting and skipping past scenes of violence, foul language, nudity and drug use, or any combination thereof, though only on selected titles.
Wal-Mart recently began selling the RCA-branded DVD player equipped with ClearPlay, which comes with filters for 100 movies, including "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" and "When Harry Met Sally ...." Filters for other movies are available at ClearPlay's Web site.
According to ClearPlay, at least four other major retailers will stock the RCA player by yearend.
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Artists Divided On File-Sharing
By Susanne Ault
LOS ANGELES--Retailers, consumers and the Recording Industry Assn. of America have been debating file-sharing issues ad nauseum. Now, it's the musician's turn.
Artists are sharply divided on whether they think file-sharing is a good or evil force for their careers, according to new research. The Pew Internet & American Life Project rolled out its preliminary findings on musician's opinions on copyright and file-sharing at the Future of Music Coalition Summit in Washington, D.C., May 1-2.
"These conflicting views make sense when you think that musicians recognize the need to promote their work (through file-sharing services) but also recognize the potential threats to the industry," says Mary Madden, Pew research specialist and co-author of the study.
The report comes on the heels of a new round of copyright-infringement suits the Recording Industry Assn. of America filed against 477 suspected file-sharers.
According to the report, 35% of the 2,755 people surveyed say peer-to-peer file-sharing services are not bad because they drum up buzz for artistic works. However, 23% say the services are bad because they let people take copyrighted music for free and without permission. The other 35% say they agree with both views.
Musicians were asked to respond between March 15 and April 15, 2004. They were contacted through industry groups such as the Future of Music Coalition, Just Plain Folks, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, CD Baby, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
The bulk of the respondents are artists who make 1%-19% of their income from music. Only 8% earn 100% of their income this way.
Acts are also split on who they think is responsible for illegal file sharing: 37% say both individuals and those who run file-sharing services are to blame; 21% say no one is responsible; 17% blame file-sharing services only, and 12% say individual swappers are exclusively at fault.
Madden notes that "many questions asked whether artists should have complete control over the material they copyright. And the vast majority do say they should have complete control. But in some situations, they expressed that they have benefitted in some way in letting the material out."
About 67% want absolute control over copyrighted material. But 28% says the copyright holder should have some control, while 3% said very little control.
Artists are also conflicted about how best to deal with illegal file-sharing. Some 60% of those surveyed believe the RIAA's suits won't benefit musicians and songwriters; 22% said the legal actions will help; and 18% said they didn't know.
Pew is a non-partisan group whose mission is to study the impact of the Web. For more information, check out www.pewinternet.org.
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Ex-Backup Singers Sue Sunshine Band
By Chris Morris
LOS ANGELES--Two former backup singers for the disco group KC & the Sunshine Band are suing bandleader Harry "KC" Casey, Rhino Records and Warner Music Group for breach of contract.
The suit was filed May 5 in California Superior Court in L.A. County (Case No. BC315115) by vocalists Margaret Reynolds and Jeanette Wright-Williams.
According to the complaint, Casey breached a 1977 contract with Reynolds and Wright-Williams by denying them royalties on sales of records by the Sunshine Band.
Rhino currently holds the rights to the group's recording catalog, according to the filing.
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MPA: Trade Barriers Hurt Film Biz
By Hy Hollinger
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter)--Piracy and other trade barriers is preventing the American film business from reaping the full multibillion-dollar potential of the product it distributes overseas, according to a report by the Motion Picture Assn.
Piracy alone is estimated to have cost the industry $3 billion-$4 billion a year. But dozens of other trading conditions--from quotas to tariffs to other "distorting" restraints --are also causing headaches in licensing filmed entertainment to offshore theaters, broadcasters and pay TV systems and in dealing with the new technologies of VCDs, DVDs and the Internet, according to the MPA's "2004 Report to the United States Trade Representative."
The 521-page loose-leaf book details "trade barriers to the exports of U.S. filmed entertainment" to almost every nook and cranny of the globe, with special sections on individual countries from Argentina to Vietnam.
"The biggest challenges are optical disc piracy, Internet piracy and the stern enforcement of copyright laws," MPA chairman and CEO Jack Valenti said in the report. "Intellectual property, in whose company movies, TV programs and home video are included, remains an awesome engine of economic growth for the American fiscal landscape. Which is why protection of valuable creative works has to be at the highest level of priority for the United States."
But that's only the tip of the iceberg in a voluminous listing of trade-barrier categories that include import policies; testing, labeling and certification standards; government procurement policies; quotas on the import of foreign films; restraints on the services of lawyers, accountants and other professionals; restrictions on the repatriation of funds; anticompetitive practices; and a slew of other factors that descend to the level of bribery and corruption.
The MPA report is also meant to serve as the film industry's position paper to the U.S. Trade Representative's ongoing negotiations for free-trade agreements, which the MPA and its member companies believe "are likely to play a very significant role in raising the standards of intellectual property protection."
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Producer: I Was Forced To Pad Film Budgets
By Jesse Hiestand
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter)--Film producer Elie Samaha says he was blackmailed into carrying out the budget-padding scheme that ultimately cost Intertainment Licensing more than $100 million.
Samaha, who is being sued for allegedly inflating budgets for the benefit of his Franchise Pictures, says Intertainment CEO Barry Baeres threatened to withhold financing on "Battlefield Earth" if Samaha didn't sign a $500 million first-look distribution deal with Intertainment.
Samaha says the decision was tough because he and his wife had invested heavily in the sci-fi action picture starring John Travolta and did not want to see the project fail.
"You don't sign this, you don't get a (letter of credit) on 'Battlefield Earth,' " Samaha says Baeres told him. "He also told me: 'I promise you I will buy your company.' "
Baeres sat in the front row of the Santa Ana, Calif., courtroom as Samaha testified April 28 for in Intertainment's fraud, conspiracy and breach-of-contract jury trial.
Samaha's claims came a day after he insisted that he was pressured into inflating the budget on such films as "The Pledge" and "Get Carter" because Baeres was desperate to get star-driven features and was willing to do whatever it took to guarantee financing.
The two companies signed a distribution agreement at the Cannes festival in 1999; the following month, Baeres put $23.5 million into "Battlefield Earth."
Intertainment agreed to fund 47% of the budgets in return for distribution rights, but the German production-licensing group claims that it later found it was paying at least 60% of the budgets because of deferments and false costs.
The cornerstone of Samaha's defense is that he and Baeres secretly agreed to inflate the budgets. But that Intertainment denies that claim, and there are no records supporting the contention.
Samaha says his advisers warned him not to do the Intertainment deal even though it would provide critical funding for Franchise's slate of pictures. Intertainment stood to benefit because Franchise could make star-driven features cheaper than the major studios, Samaha says.
Initially, Samaha says the only benefit to him was getting "Battlefield Earth" made. Despite his misgivings about allegedly being blackmailed, Samaha says he made no written record of it or the reported oral agreement with Baeres to inflate budgets.
Intertainment attorney Scott Edelmanis attempting to prove that Franchise regularly inflated budgets because correspondence indicates that those figures were passed along as accurate, direct production costs to firms other than Intertainment, including Warner Bros. and several foreign distributors.
"We were rushing--we were doing 15 movies a year, (and) things we're flying out of the office," Samaha says. "We weren't monitoring things."
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Cable Execs Decry FCC 'Censorship'
By Brooks Boliek
NEW ORLEANS (Hollywood Reporter)--The Federal Communications Commission is determined to continue cracking down on indecent programming, criticism from cable operators notwithstanding.
"For 70 years, the country has had limits on broadcast television. To me, censorship is prior restraint, and I don't think anybody has been involved in that limitation on content," said FCC chairman Michael Powell. Powell spoke last week at the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn.'s trade show in New Orleans.
But Oxygen Media CEO Geraldine Laybourne was one of several cable executives who took a decidedly different take on the FCC's enforcement efforts. "I don't think we should use the word indecency; we should call it what it is: censorship," she said. Laybourne commented after a Q&A session between Powell and NCTA chief Robert Sachs.
The remarks came as News Corp. executives expressed concern about the possible fallout from a memorial service for Pat Tillman, during which Tillman's brother reportedly used a version of the word "fuck" twice. The funeral service for Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals football star who was killed while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, was carried by several News Corp. cable channels.
"Who would have thought you needed a seven-second delay at a memorial service?" one News Corp. executive lamented. "We're worried about it."
Powell declined to comment whether the FCC would investigate the broadcast.
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Critics Blast 'Cable Guy' Al Gore
By Andrew Wallenstein
NEW ORLEANS (Hollywood Reporter--Now that Al Gore is officially a "Cable Guy," the industry is questioning his grasp of the business.
The former vice president made a surprise appearance last Tuesday at the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. convention to announce that he and a group of investors have acquired NewsWorld International news channel from Vivendi Universal.
Many at the convention dismissed the Gore group's bid to restyle the modestly distributed digital cable/satellite channel as an "independent voice" for the MTV demographic. "This will be the biggest flop liberals have seen since Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan," sniffed one cable executive.
Other detractors derided Gore's proud cultivation of "independent" status in an industry where the survival of fledgling channels is contingent on how much clout their parent companies can exert to win distribution. And those, of course, are the same media conglomerates that Gore criticized in his well-attended news conference last week.
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A Chat With Jack Valenti
With his long career as the chief voice of the American movie industry drawing to a close, Motion Picture Assn. of America CEO Jack Valenti spoke with The Hollywood Reporter's Brooks Boliek.
The Hollywood Reporter: It seems we're in another big technology fight. Everyone wants to paint the motion picture industry as anti-technology.
Jack Valenti: We've never been against technology. Long before I came here, in the '40s and '50s, television was beginning to sprout. The studios didn't want it because they were afraid of it, but Lew Wasserman wasn't. He's the one who saw that movies were going to big on TV in the '50s, so he bought the pre-1950 library of Paramount. Lew Wasserman during that time had a partnership with a Japanese company that made the VCRs. We were never against the VCR.
THR: But you had a pitched battle with the consumer electronics industry that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Valenti: What the fight was all about was not to abolish the VCR but to get a copyright royalty fee to be placed on every blank videocassette. What I said was, there would be massive piracy in the analog world, and there has been. We lose over $3 billion a year in analog piracy. What I wanted was a small copyright royalty fee that would go to the copyright owners to partially compensate them for thievery. That's the way they do it in Europe. But to get Congress to pass that law, the Supreme Court had to say that the VCR infringed on copyrights. Once you had that, then we go to Congress and get the copyright royalty fee. What Betamax said was you could copy off the air free TV for time-shifting purposes. That's all.
THR: So you think the perception that the movie industry is anti-tech is all wet?
Valenti: The idea that we're Luddites is foolish. Contrary to popular notion, there are many terrifically smart people in the movie business who have vision and know where the industry is going. When you see what's going to happen in the next 18 months to two years, then you'll realize there's a lot of evidence for some of my outbursts of pain. Caltech has FAST, where a movie can be downloaded in five seconds, and Internet II, which is a consortium of scientists, has brought it down in one minute. That's the stuff that will be in the marketplace in 18 months to two years. We have to begin now to develop technology that will allow us to protect our works.
THR: You went through this indecency thing when you created the MPAA ratings system, and through this on the TV ratings system. Is there something different this time?
Valenti: No. It's just that they pressed the detonator, with Janet Jackson's gross performance with Justin Timberlake and Howard Stern. I would call that tasteless but not indecent--one of the hazards of dealing in this subjective arena. If you're going to charge someone, you are going to have to specifically and precisely define what he did wrong. Burglary is breaking and entering a house with the intent of stealing something of value. So if you're caught in a house that's not yours with a handful of jewelry, you have per se violated the law. But what is indecency?
THR: I know there's a definition. Something about sexual or excretory functions as compared to community standards.
Valenti: Keep in mind the Supreme Court of the United States to this hour can't define pornography. They say it violates community standards. Now that's a hole big enough to send 40 Humvees side by side through. I'm reluctant to get involved or support anything that charges people with something that violates the law, but you can't define what the crime is. I'm hard-pressed to say why a four-second exposure of a breast is a violation. You can go into museums and see Venus de Milo, one of the greatest pieces of art ever known, and children study that in school. Why is this different?
THR: One of the different wrinkles I've noticed is Congress' desire to go after the individual. They want to allow the FCC to fine someone up to a half-million dollars. So you go on Larry King or Don Imus. You say "bullshit" on the air, and right then, you're eligible for a $500,000 notice of apparent liability from the FCC.
Valenti: The idea that you go after people for subjective reasons is not in the long-range best interests of the country. You know, I invented a ratings system, which understood two things: One, the First Amendment reigns: Freedom of speech. Freedom of content. The director is free to make any movie he wants to make and not have to cut a millimeter of it. But freedom without responsibility is anarchy. The director will know he can do that, but some of his films may be restricted from viewing by children. I thought that was a balancing of the moral compact. It'll be 36 years old in November. Very few things last 36 years.
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French Senate Votes This Week On E-Commerce Law
By Emmanuel Legrand
PARIS--The French Senate will vote May 13 on a digital-economy bill that was adopted by the French chamber of deputies on May 5.
The bill transposes into French law the European Union directive on e-commerce. The controversial legislation strengthens the liability of Internet service providers on issues such as pedophilia, apologies of crimes against humanity and incitement to racial hatred.
The measure also provides new legislative tools to combat cyber-criminality and better protects e-commerce users. However, a provision which would have forced ISPs to police people using their services for illegal activities has been dropped.
"This is a balanced and wide-ranging text," says French trade minister Patrick Devedjian.
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EMI Promotes Ende, Foster-Key
By Ray Bennett
LONDON (Hollywood Reporter)--EMI Music Publishing names Peter Ende president/CEO and Tony Foster-Key chief operating officer of its continental European operations.
Ende is currently president and CEO of EMI's Germany, Switzerland and Austria operations, based in Cologne, Germany. Foster-Key is executive vp at Continental European Operations, based in London.
"Each will continue to be active in jointly pursuing new deals and acquisitions," says EMI Music Publishing chairman and CEO Martin Bandier.
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French Piracy Watchdog Bites Back
By Emmanuel Legrand
LONDON--French collecting society SCPP, which acts as France's piracy watchdog, claims two court successes against counterfeiters.
An appeal court in Grenoble has confirmed a three-month suspended sentence previously issued by a court in Valence against a defendent who was accused of selling on the Internet illegal copies of CDs made from MP3 files. The defendent was also ordered to pay SCPP 7,927 euros ($9,646) in damages.
Separately, a Versailles criminal court has issued a two-month suspended sentence to the owner and an employee of a shop selling illegal copies of CDs. The material used to burn the CDs has been confiscated, and all the CDs are ordered to be destroyed. The defendants will also be forced to pay SCPP 14,400 euros ($13.872) in damages.
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WIPO Unit Seeks Updated Trademark Treaty
By Emmanuel Legrand
LONDON--A negotiating committee at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is seeking an update of the existing Trademark Law Treaty (TLT), which governs international trademark rules.
The 10-year-old TLT is no longer adapted to today's world, and the update will "bring it in line with the technological advances of the past decade," according the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs & Geographical Indications (SCT).
SCT's suggestions span the electronic filing of trademark applications and associated communications, the recording of trademark licenses, and the establishment of an assembly of the contracting parties.
The TLT was adopted in 1994 to streamline and simplify, on a worldwide basis, administrative procedures relating to national and regional trademark applications and the maintenance of trademark registrations. Thirty-one member countries adhere to the TLT.
The STC suggests that a Diplomatic Conference be held under the aegis of WIPO in the first half of 2006 to update the TLT.
The issue will be discussed Sept. 27-Oct. 5 at the WIPO General Assembly meeting in Geneva.
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Spotlight: Warner Bros. Hitching Post, Legacy Recordings
- Hitching Post Supply in Nashville names Vernell Hackett sales and marketing manager. The Monroe, Wash.-based company distributes cowboy and country western music to alternative retail outlets. Hackett previously was editor of American Songwriter Magazine, which she co-founded in 1984.
- Warner Bros. Entertainment taps Diane Nelson executive vp of global brand management, a new position. Nelson previously was executive vp of domestic marketing at Warner Bros. Pictures. In her new role, she will oversee Warner properties such as Harry Potter, Batman, Superman, "The Polar Express," "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory," "Happy Feet" and "Mucha Lucha!"
- Legacy Recordings in New York promotes Steve Berkowitz to senior VP of A&R. He was VP of A&R.
Contributors: Deborah Evans Price (Nashville) and Carla Hay (New York).
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Those Who Gave Lives Not Political Pawns
By Ray Richmond
If every one of the people who perished in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were to be named and identified on TV, would it be considered an unpatriotic act? Of course not.
Yet somehow, in the wake of the controversy over the April 30 edition of ABC News' "Nightline," the idea of individually identifying America's war dead in Iraq is seen as motivated by liberal demagoguery and propaganda.
When I heard that "Nightline" would run the pictures and read the names of some 700-plus of our troops and non-combat personnel who have perished in Iraq, I thought maybe I'd gotten it wrong and that the show was actually being accused of having a "pro-war" agenda.
But that clearly wasn't how executives at Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns more than 60 TV stations, saw things when it pulled its own act of partisanship by yanking the "Nightline" edition from its eight ABC affiliates. Sinclair said the broadcast was "motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq." But the only agenda, of course, was Sinclair's.
Robert McChesney, president of Free Press--described as a national media reform group--stressed in an interview, "No one thinks for a second that this decision had anything to do with journalism."
We have to wonder why it's considered a slam at the president to name and honor those who have defended our country in battle. Are we pretending that nobody's really dying over there?
How else to explain the brouhaha that erupted over the release of the photos of the flag-draped coffins of America's service dead? Perhaps it played havoc with someone's disinformation campaign surrounding the Iraq War.
It turned out that the April 30 "Nightline" was tasteful, moving, extraordinary--and decidedly apolitical.
"Our goal was to elevate the fallen above the politics and the daily journalism," "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel added in a closing thought, "and was neither intended to provoke opposition to the war, nor was it meant as an endorsement."
Unfortunately, in these incendiary times, there is no such thing as impartiality from the perspective of some. Everyone comes at these issues with his own biases firmly in place (me included). It's simply that some acknowledge it more readily than others.
As Koppel told the journalistic Web site Poynter Online before the show aired, "Why in heaven's name should one not be able to look at the faces and hear the names and see the ages of those young people who are not coming back alive and feel somehow ennobled by the fact that they were willing to give up their lives for something that is in the national interest of all of us?"
I'll tell you why not: Because we're waist-deep in the big muddy with a White House and Congress that has let its intolerant will be known--and it's the big media congloms and station groups who are repeatedly being obliged to blink.
There's a strict and increasingly puritan new moral code, and one had best get with the program or pay the price, financially and otherwise. The "Nightline" furor is simply another offshoot of this larger picture, where corporations feel compelled to do content suppression back flips and then beg for treats like so many lapdogs.
One would hope that the next step isn't having to send rough-cuts of primetime shows to the Office of Homeland Security for pre-approval. But these days, all bets are off.
Ray Richmond is a columnist for Billboard sister publication The Hollywood Reporter.
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U.K. High Court Hears Contract Breach Case
By Roger Pearson
LONDON--Works by Cher, Enrique Iglesias and Andrea Bocelli are at the center of a legal battle between an independent music group and its former in-house music producer, Mark Taylor.
After two years working for Rive Droite Music Ltd., a subsidiary of French indie music group XIII Bis, Taylor left the company in December 2000 to set up a rival firm, Brian Rawling Productions Ltd.
Rive Droite then alerted Taylor that he was bound to them by a three-year publishing agreement. On April 18, 2002, Taylor's lawyers started legal proceedings against Rive Droite.
The High Court of Justice Chancery Division in London began hearing the case May 5.
The suit concerns a 1998 contract renewal, which Rive Droite claims both sides had intended to span three years. However, the group says, a mistake was made, as the contract was based on a previous deal that only ran for two years, and the figure was not corrected.
Taylor argues that the 1998 agreement--under which he assigned the copyright in all songs written by him to Rive Droite--was only intended to last two years as written in the contract.
Rive Droite claims that Taylor, who worked for the company on Cher's hit single "Believe" in 1998, took advantage of an error in his most recent contract, which stated the deal was to run for two years when in fact, the company claims, both sides knew it was intended to run for three.
Rive Droite contends Taylor breached the producer's agreement, made in 1998, by walking out a year ahead of schedule, and by undertaking work for Cher, Enrique Iglesias and Andrea Bocelli that he was supposed to carry out on its behalf.
Rive Droite says Taylor diverted those lucrative projects away from it.
Rive Droite claims that Taylor's argument that the stated two-year term was correct is an attempt to take advantage of the slip. The company also claims it owns the copyright to all the work Taylor did during the year after he left Rive Droite, and that the subsequent use of those recordings was in breach of its copyright.
The hearing continues this week.
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New Filings: PepsiCo, Kenneth Cole, Time Warner
Case: Deveaux S.A. v. Kenneth Cole Productions Inc.; Kenneth Cole Productions L.P.; Kenneth Cole Inc.; Paul Davril Inc.; Federated Department Stores; Macy's; Bloomingdales; May Department Stores; Lord & Taylor
Issue: Plaintiff says defendant infringed copyrights it holds on select design fabric patterns
Cite: US District Court for the Southern District of NY; CV-3292
Filing attorney: Jed Schlacter of Schlacter & Associates
Case: PepsiCo Inc. v. Henry Chan
Issue: Domain-name dispute.
Cite: WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center, Case No. D2004-0033
Filing attorney: Georges Nahitchevansky of Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu
CLICK HERE To Read Document Online
Case: Nicole Scheidemann v. Qatar Football Association; Qatar Nat'l. Olympic Committee
Issue: Breach of contract and tortious interference with contractual relations. Plaintiff claims defendant didn't pay commissions due her for arranging soccer team AC Milan to play a match against Qatari Nat'l in Qatar.
Cite: US District Court for the Southern District of NY; CV-3432
Filing attorney: Frank Welzer of Zukerman Gore
Case: Concord Village Owners v. Trinity Communications Corp.; Time Warner Cable of NYC; Time Warner Entertainment Co. LP; Time Warner Inc.
Issue: Property indemnification
Cite: NY Supreme Court; Case No. 106917
Filing attorney: Richard Mills of Pisano Mills
Case: Robin Mays v. Top Dawg Productions Inc.
Issue: Breach of agreement between producer and publisher; nonpayment of royalties.
Cite: New York Supreme Court; Case No. 601348
Filing attorney: Matthew Giger of Sullivan & Worcester
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