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1: Warner Bros. Settles $80M Copyright Suit Brought by Tolkien Estate Over LOTR Online Video and Casino Gambling Games
First off today, Steve Brachmann at IPWatchdog reports that a settlement has been reached between the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and Warner Bros. over the media company’s alleged misuse of merchandising rights.
The estate had filed the lawsuit in November 2012 alleging that Warner Bros. was abusing the merchandising rights it had been granted in the Lord of the Rings series of books. According to the estate, the contract signed with Warner did not extend to video games based on the property and especially not gambling games, which the estate said was a market they would have never pursued.
Now both sides have reached a settlement, though the terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The settlement resolves both the estate’s claims and Warner’s counter-claims, bringing the case to a complete end.
Next up today, Matt Reynolds at Courthouse News Service reports that Penthouse Magazine has filed a lawsuit against Jared Leto and seven others over alleged copyright and trademark infringement over their plans to adopt science fiction from Omni magazine for TV.
Omni magazine was created by Penthouse’s founder Bob Guccione and was a prominent magazine for science fiction until it’s run ended in 1995. However, Leto recently began working with Jerrick Media to create content based on the stories from the magazine and that prompted Penthouse to sue, claiming it owns both the content and the trademarks related to the publication.
The lawsuit also alleges infringement of Guccione’s film Caligula. Though Leto isn’t involved in this part of the lawsuit, the filing does allege that defendant Jerey Frommer, without authorization, published previously unreleased photos and other archival material from the film.
Finally today, Ashley Cullins at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the battle over VidAngel continues as the movie studios strike back against the company’s new filtering model, which VidAngel had hoped would allow it to resume business operations.
VidAngel was a film streaming service that allowed users filter out content they found objectionable. It worked by having users “buy” a DVD for $20 and then stream it online. After they were done, they would “sell” it back for $1. The courts, objecting to that model, found the service was infringing. VdAngel recently relaunched as a true filtering service, acting as a layer on top of Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services.
According to VidAngel, this brings them into compliance with the Family Home Movie Act of 2005, which allows for the creation of such filters. However, in their reply, the studios argue that VidAngel is still serving its videos from their server, not merely acting as an application layer on top of Netflix. The studios allege that this makes the new VidAngel just as infringing as the previous version. VidAngel’s response is due by July 10th and a hearing on the matter is scheduled for July 24th.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.