Prince Drops $22 Million Infringement Suit


Photo Credit: IMC Magazine

By Jack Vidovich

On January 29, Prince dropped a $22 million infringement suit against several parties he accused of recording live performances of the star and uploading them to the Internet.  His decision comes a mere two weeks after the artist’s complaint was initially filed in San Francisco federal district court, in which he requested $1 million from each of the twenty-two infringers.  Though as TMZ points out, Prince still has the opportunity to refile his complaint, there is nothing to indicate that he will.

Prince expressed concern that his performances were showing up on social media platforms such as Facebook.  But since the suit was filed, the parties who have posted the videos have removed them.   According to Prince’s attorney, “We recognize the fans[’] craving for as much material as possible, but we’d prefer they get it from us directly than from third parties who are scalpers rather than real fans of our work.”  Thus with the unauthorized videos no longer on the Web, Prince and his attorney seem content to settle for this form of indirect takedown, rather than collect damages.

The artist has a history of policing his intellectual property and is no stranger to suing those who use his works without his prior authorization.  According to the ABA Journal, “The Star Tribune reports that, in 2007, he was one of the biggest names to take on free download site The Pirate Bay, which was subsequently banned by Internet providers worldwide.”  That same year, a YouTube video featuring a baby dancing with Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” on in the background was the heart of a takedown dispute in Lenz v. Universal Music Corp.  Though this case has currently been appealed up to the Ninth Circuit, the district court at least ruled that Universal’s issuance of a takedown was improper because it did not perform a good faith fair use consideration.

This pending case may explain, at least in part, Prince decision to file an infringement suit and settle for no damages rather than file a takedown request.  Fair use is a difficult area of copyright law, and what constitutes a good faith fair use analysis is equally unclear.  Thus a takedown option, steeped in this uncertainty, may be a pernicious choice, especially if falsely applying it may result in a counterclaim for misrepresentation.  The safer option then is to make the more concrete infringement claim, scare the parties with high damages, and get the affects of the takedown without the fear of retribution.  Hopefully a resolution to the Lenz case will bring some certainty back to the field of takedown notices, and not force attorneys to take such circumspect measures.

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Football Fan Sues NFL Over Super Bowl Ticket Prices

Kirby Lee/US Presswire

By Rajiv Radia

The Newark Start Ledger reported that a fan has filed a lawsuit against the NFL over the price of Super Bowl tickets for this years game. Josh Finkelman of New Brunswick, New Jersey filed the suit in Federal Court in Newark alleging the NFL has violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act entitled “Withholding tickets from sale, prohibited amount.” Finkleman purchased two tickets to this years game which will be held in MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and Jets, located in New Jersey, for $4,000 per ticket. Finkleman’s suit claims that the NFL made only 1% of tickets to the game available to the general public. Finkelman is seeking triple the amount of the tickets as damages and while that may not be a large amount for one plaintiff, the suit has the potential to turn into a class-action which could multiply the damages into the hundreds and millions of dollars range.
As far as the statute Finkleman is suing under, according to the Star-Ledger, “the pertinent subsection of the statute states, ‘It shall be an unlawful practice for a person, who has access to tickets to an event prior to the tickets’ release for sale to the general public, to withhold those tickets from sale to the general public in an amount exceeding 5% of all available seating for the event.'”

Essentially, Finkelman and his attorney believe to comply with the statute, the NFL has to make 95% of the tickets available to the general public. The NFL divides its tickets up by giving 35% to the two teams playing in the game; the host team (teams this year – the Giants and Jets) receive 6.2% of the tickets; the other 28 teams share 33% and the NFL retains the remaining 25%. Generally, when teams release Super Bowl tickets for sale, resellers snatch up a large amount of them and sell them for higher than face value. This is something the NFL has not been able to do anything about. The NFL however, has not denied that it is next to impossible for ‘the average Joe’ to buy a ticket to the game. The NFL issued a statement in response to the suit that read, “Our lawyers will review the complaint and respond accordingly”.

This years Super Bowl has faced increased scrutiny on all fronts as it’s being hailed as ‘the New York City’ Super Bowl. The spotlight began in August when the Farmers Almanac predicted a large snow storm to hit the area the weekend of the Super Bowl. In addition to ticket prices and weather, sex-trafficking and  tailgating have been raised as concerns as well.

While it may be too early to determine the outcome of this suit, if successful, it could have a large financial impact as well as an impact on how the NFL sells tickets to the game going forward.

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Aaron Hernandez Linked to Double Homicide



By Rajiv Radia

As if Aaron Hernandez did not have enough trouble, he is now being linked to a double murder in 2012. According to a search warrant filed in Connecticut, police believe that Hernandez was in an SUV, when someone in the vehicle shot and killed two people in Boston’s South End. While police have not yet indicated who they believe pulled the trigger, Hernandez’s link stems from police finding the SUV suspected in the shooting during a search of Hernandez’s uncles home in Connecticut. According to The Hartford Courant the new search warrant, issued on December 11, 2013, is seeking recordings of phone calls made by Alexander Bradley, an associate of Hernandez’s who also is apart of a pending lawsuit in Florida alleging Hernandez shot him in the face.

Aside from his issues above, Hernandez has also been dropped from endorsement deals and has not been paid $82,000 due to him from his former team, the New England Patriots. Hernandez also faces a wrongful death lawsuit being brought the family of the man he is accused of killing. It is wise for the family to bring the suit quickly to move on the money Hernandez currently has before it is consumed by legal bills. In the mean time, Hernandez sits behind bars without bail awaiting trial, which is likely to occur sometime in the spring of 2014.

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