Close-Ups

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Venable partner William Briggs was recently nominated by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve on the city’s Board of Police Commissioners. In this Q & A, Briggs discusses his journey from public high school to a prestigious law school, the legal accomplishments he’s most proud of, including his previous advocacy on behalf of disadvantaged children, and what he hopes to accomplish in his new role. You were raised in a single-parent household in Los…
The Supreme Court of New York recently denied a motion to seal the record in the case of Choi v. Solomon, stating that “harsh words are not a basis to seal a case, especially where it appears both sides have no qualms about tearing each other down.”  Decision and Order on Motion at *4, Choi v. Solomon, No. 001-654666 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. November 6, 2020). The case was brought by Yukyung Choi against Scott…
New York has protected the rights of living persons to control the use of their name and likeness in commerce for over one hundred years. The existing right to privacy gives any person the right to sue for an injunction or damages if their name or likeness is used within New York for advertising or trade purposes without their written consent. See NY CRL § 51. These privacy rights dissipate at death. But starting in…
A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the Nevada District Court’s ruling that the play Jersey Boys did not infringe plaintiff’s copyright in the autobiography of Tommy DeVito – a member of the Four Seasons – as the play did not copy any protectable aspects of the autobiography. See Corbello v. Valli, 974 F.3d 965 (9th Cir. 2020). The Tony Award-winning Jersey Boys musical tracks the history of the chart-topping…
On October 27, 2020, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a district court’s summary judgment ruling that scenes from the Netflix series Narcos did not infringe a Colombian journalist’s copyrighted memoir, agreeing that “no reasonable jury could find that the two works are substantially similar.” See Vallejo v Narcos Productions LLC, No. 19-14894, 2020 WL 6281501, at *9 (11th Cir. Oct. 27, 2020) (per curiam). Virginia Vallejo, a Colombian journalist, authored the memoir Amando a Pablo,…
On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the $2.3 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the Act). At over five thousand pages, the Act is an amalgamation of numerous legislative measures, including further stimulus measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, as well as an omnibus spending bill. Below is a discussion of some of the tax provisions in the Act that may impact the entertainment industry.…
One of the oddities of 2020 is that a great many people in the entertainment and media industries became familiar with a complex form of securities offering: the SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company). Despite having the word “Company” in their name, SPACs are not really companies. Rather, they are piles of money looking for businesses to acquire. In 2020, over $60 billion was raised in the public equity markets by SPACs (more than four times…
The federal government’s latest spending bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (Act), included $284 billion of renewed funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and a newly established $15 billion grant program for “Shuttered Venue Operators” (described below). Congress also modified the PPP in numerous ways that should benefit businesses who receive PPP funding. Under the Act, the allowable uses for PPP funds that will be forgiven was broadened to include, among other expenses, costs associated…
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida recently dismissed all claims against the coupon database and news website Coupons in the News, reinforcing protections for online publications and associated photographs that are of legitimate public concern.  See Anderson v. Best Buy Stores, Case No: 5:20-cv-41-JSM-PRL (M.D. Fla. July. 28, 2020). The lawsuit arose over a disagreement about the use of expired coupons at a Best Buy store.  Courtney Anderson allegedly…
Keith Boykin, a New York Times best-selling author and one of TV’s leading commentators on politics, race, and sexual orientation, participated in Venable’s Diversity and Inclusion Speaker Program on December 3. Keith discussed his personal struggles in coming out as a gay man and his efforts to promote inclusivity and tolerance for gay men of color and other minority groups. When Keith Boykin finally worked up the courage to tell his mother that he was…