By Scott Hervey

This isn’t the first time a songwriter has used a celebrity’s name in a song, but it may be the first time a celebrity sued over such use. Musical writer and performer Armando Perez, well known by his rap name Pitbull, wrote and recorded the song “Give me Everything.” Approximately one third of the way through the song, Lohan’s name is used as follows: “So, I’m tiptoen’, to keep floin’ / I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan”. Lohan, who did not grant consent to the use of her name in the song, sued Pitbull and his record label, Sony Music Entertainment, for violating Sections 50 and 51 of the New York Civil Rights Law, for unjust enrichment and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court dismissed Lohan’s complaint on the grounds that it fails to state a claim. While most are chalking this up as another legal loss for the challenged Lindsay Lohan, this case is an interesting commentary on the reach of New York’s right of publicity statutes.

Although New York does not recognize a common-law right of privacy, the State sought to provide a limited statutory right of privacy when it enacted Sections 50 and 51 of the New York Civil rights Law. Section 50 makes it a misdemeanor for any person to “use… for advertising purposes, or for the purposes of trade, the name, portrait or picture of any living person without first having obtained the written consent of such person.” Section 50 provides:

Any person whose name, portrait, picture or voice is used within this state for advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade without the written consent first obtained as provided [in Section 50] may maintain an equitable action in the supreme court of this state against the person, firm or corporation so using his name, portrait, picture or voice, to prevent and restrain the use thereof; and may also sue and recover damages for any injuries sustained by reason of such use and if the defendant shall have knowingly used such person’s name, portrait, picture or voice in such manner as is forbidden or declared to be unlawful by section fifty of this article, the jury, in its discretion, may award exemplary damages.

Continue Reading Lindsay Lohan Finds Herself on the Wrong Side of New York’s Right Of Publicity Statute

By: Zachary Wadlé

On April 14, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio, iconic rock band Guns N’ Roses will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The induction comes 25 years after original members Axl Rose (lead vocals), Saul Hudson aka “Slash” (lead guitar), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar), Duff McKagan (bass), and Steven Adler (drums) released their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, which sold more than 28 million copies worldwide and ranks as the best-selling debut album ever.  After a meteoric rise in popularity, the original lineup began to break up in the early 1990’s due to problems with substance abuse by various band-members and acrimonious infighting over the creative direction of the group.  This ultimately led to Axl Rose gaining sole control of all Guns N’ Roses intellectual property and its musical catalog, but also becoming estranged from the original members.  Today, Rose tours as Guns N’ Roses along with a group of new musicians who perform many of the band’s original tunes, along with the band’s new material from its most recent album, Chinese Democracy.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees traditionally perform a short set during the induction ceremony.  In years past, long-separated bands such as The Police and The Eagles have put aside their differences during the ceremony for a one-time-only reunion performance.  News of Guns N’ Roses’ induction has naturally produced speculation that the original lineup may reunite for the ceremony, which would be a highly anticipated event among the 30 and 40-something rock music crowd.  The only stumbling block appears to be continued animosity between Rose and Slash, which has resulted in multiple public spats and lawsuits over the years. 

Continue Reading All we need is just a little (more) patience — Sync license dispute threatens to derail any hope of Guns N’ Roses Reunion Show

By: James Kachmar

In late December, the Ninth Circuit revisited the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) in the case UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Veoh Networks, Inc., 101 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1001. Veoh is a web service that allows users to view videos uploaded by other users.   Veoh was sued for copyright infringement by UMG, one of the world’s largest music and music publishing companies. 

Before a user can upload and share a video, on Veoh’s site, he/she must agree to Veoh’s publisher terms and conditions and terms of use, both of which bar the user from uploading any videos that infringe on another’s copyrights. Also immediately prior to uploading a video, a message appears on Veoh’s website warning the user not to upload infringing videos. 

Continue Reading Revisiting the “Safe Harbor” Provisions of the DMCA