by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 26th 2013 8:11pm
Thu, Mar 14th 2013 7:50am
from the affleck-off dept
Side note: I consider the Iranians not protesting Gigli an act of war
Image source: CC BY 2.0
Of course, if you'd like any real details on what Tehran is planning on doing about any of this, good luck.
Iran is planning to sue Hollywood over the Oscar-winning "Argo" because of the movie's allegedly "unrealistic portrayal" of the country, Iranian media reported Tuesday. Several news outlets, including the pro-reform Shargh daily, said French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre is in Iran for talks with officials over how and where to file the lawsuit. She is also the lawyer for notorious Venezuelan-born terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal.Ah, lovely. The problem is that, while Iran is dismissing Argo and its awards as CIA propaganda, because everyone knows how pro-military Hollywood is, they aren't really disputing any specific points in the movie. They just say it shows Iranians as being too violent during the hostage-taking (er...), that Affleck failed to show why Iranians were so angry at the United States (they must have missed the movie's opener), and called Argo's awards an "attack against humanity." Other than that, no details were provided on what charges they were going to bring in what court and at what time. Why?
Well, probably because there is roughly f#@$-all they can actually do about it, outside of their own borders, where their own population has been gobbling the movie up via bootleg DVDs (are copyright pirates also pro-CIA?). Regardless, a quick message for my Iranian friends: it's a movie, get over it.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Feb 18th 2013 11:02am
The Pirate Bay's 'Lawsuit' Against Anti-Piracy Group More About Exposing Double Standards In Enforcement
from the looks-like-it dept
TPB has now said that it has reported the parody CIAPC site to the Economic Crime Unit. Why? Well, it appears the whole thing is really about exposing the double standard by Finnish law enforcement. You see, recently, Finnish prosecutors went after a parody site by Finnish "software developer, researcher and internet activist" Matti Nikki. So, TPB, is noting that it just wants to see the law applied equally (by which it means, showing how farcical the law is, knowing that law enforcement will never prosecute this):
“In a similar case, the prosecution and the Helsinki Court of Appeals have found that a parody site can violate the moral rights of the original author. Changing the logo or making slight edits to the text are not enough to remove this liability,” they informed the police.The Finnish EFF supported this claim, explaining to TorrentFreak (in the link above) that seeing how prosecutors reacted would be quite telling:
“It’s interesting to see, how the police reacts to Pirate Bay’s demands. On facts the case is indeed very similar to Matti Nikki’s case, in which the prosecutor decided to bring the charges on behalf of Save the Children.So, while others were mocking, it appears there was a much more serious thought process going on here. One of the following possibilities are likely to occur:
“The law should be the same for everyone so now the objectivity of the Finnish police is going to be tested. Anyway as others have already pointed out, even if Pirate Bay loses the case, it’s a victory for their cause.”
- Finnish prosecutors do absolutely nothing, thus exposing their complete double standard in enforcing the law.
- A lawsuit happens, and TPB "loses" the case, as it's an obvious parody situation which should be allowed -- and thus, TPB reinforces the protections for parody.
- A lawsuit happens TPB actually wins the case, which most people would equally recognize as preposterous after seeing the initial press coverage of the story.
Thu, Feb 7th 2013 7:05pm
Some Dell Shareholders Don't Know Much About This Leveraged Buyout, But They Know They Don't Like It
from the no-need-for-details,-just-be-angry dept
But for most of the fun stuff we’ll have to look forward to the proxy. And that isn't good enough for some people. Reuters reports that the first shareholder lawsuit over the deal has already been filed, one day after announcement, which I assume means it was in the works before the deal was announced. This sort of amazed me:
Some shareholders said they were angered by the lack of specifics about the deal, making it hard for them to determine if the price was fair. The company, which declined to comment on the lawsuit, had said the board had conducted an extensive review of its strategic options before agreeing to the buyout.
I would characterize myself as mildly saddened by the lack of specifics, but that's why I will wait until the proxy is out and then read the specifics. You know there's a whole section of the proxy explaining why the bankers thought the deal was fair, right?2
There’s nothing new here – as Reuters notes, "Almost every merger worth more $100 million prompts a shareholder lawsuit" -- but the speed continues to amaze. And it's becoming ever more a fact of life:
That’s from this depressing report, which also has a sad-comical list of 16 deals each with 15 or more lawsuits filed. (The tech industry averages 4.9 suits, so, y'know, look out for 3.9 more.)
You can sympathize a little. Management buyouts are of course all about bottom-ticking the stock price; management would be pretty dumb if they took the company private at its all-time high. Dell's various stakeholder communications -- all to the tune of "this will is the start of a whole new chapter for Dell, in which everything will remain exactly the same" -- make that pretty clear: the deal has little to do with operational changes and much to do with the fact that Michael Dell thinks that (1) Dell and (2) debt are both cheap right now.
But that's kind of the market, and the fact of life is that if shareholders think that $13.65 is too cheap for their shares, they can always vote the deal down. By all accounts this deal was pretty fully negotiated, so it seems unlikely that the lawsuit will reveal that Dell and Silver Lake would have coughed up an extra $1 a share if the board had just asked more aggressively. And it's no secret that Michael Dell thinks that his company is worth more than $13.65. Even if that hasn't been specifically disclosed yet.
Dell 8-K, Merger Agreement, Voting Agreement [EDGAR]
Dell Buyout Broken Down: Silver Lake Puts in $1.4 Billion [Deal Journal]
Dell Aims for Double-B Rating, Leverage Less Than 4x Ebitda [Deal Journal]
Dell investor sues to block founder’s leveraged buyout [Reuters]
Reasons to Be Suspicious of Buyouts Led by Management [DealBook]
Dell’s Talks Said to Break Up a Few Times Over Pricing [Bloomberg]
1. From the 8-K:
Each of Bank of America, N.A., Barclays Bank PLC, Credit Suisse AG and Royal Bank of Canada and, in some cases, certain of their affiliates (collectively, the “Lenders”) have committed to provide debt financing for the transaction, consisting of a $4 billion senior secured term loan B facility, a $1.5 billion senior secured term loan C facility, a $2 billion ABL facility, senior secured interim loan facilities consisting of a $2 billion first lien bridge loan facility and a $1.25 billion second lien bridge loan facility (or, alternatively, senior secured first lien and second lien fixed rate notes that would be issued in a high-yield offering pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933), a $1.9 billion term commercial receivables financing facility and a $1.1 billion revolving consumer receivables financing facility, each on the terms and subject to the conditions set forth in a commitment letter dated as of February 5, 2013 (the "Debt Commitment Letter").
2. The answer is always along the lines of "because you paid us to think that," but still.Other posts from Dealbreaker:
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 25th 2013 7:39pm
from the prosecutorial-discretion dept
Tragedy intervened when Ortiz’s office took over the case to send “a message.”In case you were wondering what "continued without a finding" means, Harvey Silvergate (author of Three Felonies a Day) explained to Declan McCullagh:
"Continuance without a finding" was the anticipated disposition of the case were the charge to remain in state court, with the Middlesex County District Attorney to prosecute it. Under such a disposition, the charge is held in abeyance ("continued") without any verdict ("without a finding"). The defendant is on probation for a period of a few months up to maybe a couple of years at the most; if the defendant does not get into further legal trouble, the charge is dismissed, and the defendant has no criminal record. This is what the lawyers expected to happen when Swartz was arrested for "trespassing at MIT." But then the feds took over the case, and the rest is tragic history.The report above also notes that Ortiz is in some additional hot water, as another one of her overreach cases, involving an attempt to seize a family-owned motel in Massachusetts by claiming that it was "facilitating drug crimes" has failed miserably, tossed out by the magistrate judge. Not only was it noted that there were only 15 drug-related incidents over a 15 year period (during which 196,000 rooms were rented out), but also, the motel owners worked closely with local police to deal with drug issues and that other local businesses that had drug incidents were not targeted by Ortiz.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 6th 2012 3:06pm
from the and-that's-that dept
by Tim Cushing
Thu, Sep 27th 2012 8:08am
from the a-publisher's-greatest-revenue-stream-is-sometimes-the-authors-themselves dept
Penguin has decided to reclaim a bit of the money it threw at a selection of authors and, in one case, a potentially heartwarming tale of love and concentration camp survival that turned out to be completely fabricated. The Smoking Gun has published the names and amounts sought by Penguin in the lawsuits filed for "breach of contract/unjust enrichment." Here's a couple of defendants from the list:
* Blogger Ana Marie Cox, who signed in 2006 to author a "humorous examination of the next generation of political activists," is being dunned for her $81,250 advance (and at least $50,000 in interest). Her Penguin contract totaled $325,000.Ten more authors were named, including "Prozac Nation" author Elizabeth Wurtzel, who failed to deliver a "book for teenagers to help them cope with depression." The total amount, including interest, totals to over a half million dollars. Authors failing to deliver something printable (or anything at all) to publishers is nothing new, but a shotgun blast of legal filings against authors is a bit novel. (Oh, ho! A book pun.) It would be tempting to call this a new "revenue stream," but only the interest would be "new" money.
* Holocaust survivor Herman Rosenblat was signed for $40,000 in 2008 to describe how he "survived a concentration camp because of a young girl who snuck him food. 17 years later the two met on a blind date and have been together ever since, married 50 years." While Rosenblat’s story was hailed by Oprah Winfrey as the "single greatest love story" she had told on the air, it turned out to be a fabrication. Penguin wants him to repay a $30,000 advance (and at least $10,000 in interest).
Theories as to ulterior motives or possible underhandedness on Penguin's part are being advanced (and another pun! completely unintentional!). In The Smoking Gun's comment thread, Trident Media Group chairman Robert Gottlieb speculates (strongly) that Penguin's treatment of its authors is disingenuous, at best:
Authors beware. Books are rejected for reasons other than editorially and publishers then want their money back. Publishers want to reject manuscripts for any reason after an author has put time and effort into writing them all the while paying their bills. Another reason to have strong representation. If Penguin did this to one of Trident’s authors we could cut them out of all our submissions.Another possible angle is offered by literary blogger Edward Champion:
Why did Penguin wait until NOW to go after advances? Has Ducksworth been settled? And are authors having to pay up for discrimination?Champion refers to the age discrimination lawsuit filed earlier this month against Penguin by Marilyn Duckworth, who alleges the publisher forced her out after 27 years of employment to pursue employees that were "faster, stronger and more nimble."
At this point, it's tough to judge the merits of the lawsuits based on anything other than Penguin's claims. It looks like straight-up breach of contract and the range of topics left unpublished (the rise of Bass Pro Shops, an "analytical forecast arguing for the future success of gold," a second book from the "dynamic pastor of the Empowerment Temple") suggest that Penguin's not limiting legal action to trendy bloggers or other "next big things." If this action proves to be successful, it's not tough to imagine other publishers following suit (Pun trifecta!), especially with the possibility of collecting 25-30% interest thrown into the mix.
But, if you're an author-to-be, and choosing to sign a publishing deal with a major publishing house, you'd have to think that this kind of thing would make you a lot less willing to sign with Penguin. Who wants the added stress of possibly being sued for the advance the publisher gave you? It would seem that authors may start to be a lot less interested in publishing with Penguin.
Thu, Sep 20th 2012 12:04pm
from the cat's-outta-the-bag dept
[Lily] Dionne was one of about 79 cast and crew who say they were "grossly misled" when they answered casting calls on Craigslist, Backstage magazine and other publications in July 2011 for a film that was described as "an historical Arabian Desert adventure."According to Dionne, the actors were then brought back after shooting to do the dubs, but the producers had them speak isolated lines and words, completely out of context. For instance, they were asked to simply say the name "Mohammed" and nothing else, with no explanation as to why. 79 cast and crew members have since released a statement claiming they were taken advantage of.
But from the beginning, Dionne said the cast and crew had questions, including why the central character in a period piece had a Western name.
"We did wonder what it was about. They kept saying George. And we were like, 'This is the Middle East 2,000 years ago. Who's George?'" she said.
Now, one actress, Cindy Lee Garcia, has gone a step further and sued the man who produced the film, as well as YouTube, to, among other things, get the film taken down.
In a 17-page complaint filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the lawsuit from Cindy Lee Garcia also names YouTube LLC, the video-sharing website on which the video is posted, and its parent company, Google Inc., as causing irreparable harm to Ms. Garcia for refusing to remove the content from their site.A couple of things strike me here, so I'll take them in order. First, I'm unaware of how a film's director could be sued for slander (another aspect (pdf) of Garcia's lawsuit) because of the way he/she decides to portray the actors in their films. Slander should be out the window, since Garcia and the others were playing fictional roles, and so are not portrayed to be anything at all beyond the characters they were playing. Could Kevin Bacon sue Sleepers director Barry Levinson because the result of post-production for the film made his character look just a tad too child-rapey? The privacy violation and likeness rights violation in the suit seem equally ridiculous. She consented to be in a film! It's understandable why she's upset, but if that's allowed, imagine how many actors would start suing every time a film edit is a disaster and makes them look bad.
"The lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment or the right of Americans to say what they think," but it demands the content be pulled off because "Ms. Garcia in no way consented to the use of her performance, image or likeness in such an offensive and file film," Garcia's attorney, M. Cris Armenta, said in a statement.
As for the "fraud" claim, that may be the strongest of a bunch of very weak claims. You could make the case that the various elements of fraud are present, but almost every one of them is a stretch.
In any case, today the judge refused to order an emergency takedown of the video—though the lawsuits will move ahead.
Even if there is a civil suit to be had here, targeting YouTube and requesting they take the film down has all the hallmarks of a head-in-the-sand approach (beyond raising questions of secondary liability). The cat is not only out of the bag at this point, it's protesting at its local US Embassy. The damage is done. I can certainly understand* the distress actors feel over the worldwide reaction to a film they probably thought would never be seen, but that doesn't mean the film has to come down. Google, thus far, agrees, and has refused to remove the video beyond censoring it in certain countries.
*One caveat: the trailer for this film was released in May. Where the hell were all these outraged actors back then? Why is it only now the film has made the news that they are releasing statements, speaking out, and filing lawsuits? Did none of these actors bother to view the movie they were in before the mainstream media picked this up?
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Sep 17th 2012 8:21am
from the streisand-effect dept
I don't tend to follow news like this, so there could be plenty of reasons why I missed the report that the wife of Prince William, Kate Middleton, had been photographed topless while on vacation with William in France. Of course, it could also be because almost no one paid attention to the story... until the royal family decided to sue. As Kash Hill correctly notes, this seems like yet another perfect example of the Streisand Effect in action. The story got very little attention... until legal action was threatened.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 31st 2012 8:55am
from the incredible dept
“My lifes work was stolen from me,” she wrote in a 13-page complaint riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors. “I am afflicted with pain and suffering and emotional distress.”But then... she won. Well, at least the copyright part. A different judge granted summary judgment, claiming that the two songs were similar enough. To be honest, Harley should be amazingly thankful that the judge sided with her here. Going through the docket in this case, Harley appears to have done pretty much everything possible to antagonize the judge. Below I've embedded (among other things) a transcript of a hearing to respond to Harley's request to have the judge removed from the case for bias. Harley showed up 20 minutes late, after the judge explained why such a removal was not reasonable and highlighted that her request was based on "frivolous and ad hominem attacks." When Harley eventually did show up, she challenged the judge repeatedly, despite her clear annoyance at the situation. Here's how the hearing ended, though reading the whole thing (it's not that long) is worthwhile:
But Ms. Harley proceeded to do just about everything possible to sabotage her own claim.
She failed to appear for hearings or showed up late. Judges accused her of interrupting them, filing frivolous motions, disobeying court orders and refusing to participate in the discovery process. She accused judges of bias.
She was admonished in court, ordered to pay about $13,000 in sanctions and even barred from using certain evidence.
One particularly exasperated judge observed: “The world is going to end someday, and my job is to try to see that this case gets adjudicated before the world ends.”
MS. HARLEY: Yes. For the record, why am I not entitled to have you disqualified as a judge?The order (pdf) about sanctions against Harper detail a rather incredible pattern of absolute refusal to actually comply with basic discovery processes, which indicate that Harley appears to believe she could withhold evidence she planned to use at trial. End result? Despite her attempts to get out of it, she was told to pay over $13,000 in sanctions.
THE COURT: Ms. Harley, had you been here on time, you would have heard. Now we actually waited until 10:15.
MS. HARLEY: But I'm here now, and for the record, I'd like to have you disqualified.
THE COURT: For the record, I will repeat it to you. In this one instance I will tell you why your motion was baseless and entirely frivolous, but there is a transcript of this proceeding. Your motion indicates that this case was somehow assigned to me in a way that evidences partiality. It was not.
MS. HARLEY: Pardon me? I'm sorry. I don't understand that. Could you repeat that.
THE COURT: I will repeat what I'm going to say one time, and then we are going to adjourn.
Your motion indicated that this matter was assigned to me in some way that evidenced my partiality. It was not. That I was somehow showing bias.
I will not entertain questions.
MS. HARLEY: Why?
THE COURT: I will not entertain questions. Your motion also indicated that the manner of the removal of the reference also indicated some sort of bias. Everything that has been done in this matter has proceeded according to the routine practice for all matters that have come to me.
MS. HARLEY: Objection.
THE COURT: That is it, counsel. We are adjourned on this matter. Thank you.
MS. HARLEY: Objection.
THE CLERK: All rise.
And she still "won."
The judge basically said that despite all of this the two songs were similar enough (though not identical) and there was enough evidence to suggest that the defendants had access to the song (Harley had given copies of the song to someone who was thanked on the album). While the actual songs may be similar, even the "similarities" in terms of lyrics seem pretty damn generic to me. The judge notes the following lyrics as infringing:
(1) Never meant to hurt you/Never meant to cause you pain;It's hard to come up with three more generic musical lyrics. In fact, a quick search on LyricFind of "never meant to hurt you" turns up 180 songs with that lyric. "Sorry that I hurt you" gets 25 songs. "Never happen again" shows up in 84 songs. That doesn't mean that this wasn't necessarily infringing, but damn are those generic lyrics that are found in an awfully large number of songs.
(2) Sorry baby/Sorry that I hurt you; and
(3) I will never hurt you again/It will never happen again.
It's really quite amazing that she won the summary judgment.
And, of course, looking over the docket, it's just full of crazyness. It's not worth going through it all, but aspects of the case have continued since the summary judgment ruling, including Harley trying to appeal certain things, only to be told by the judge that "there is no basis for an appeal at this time. Plaintiff must await a final judgment."
In the end, it's entirely possible that there was infringement here. Certainly the judge -- despite all of the problems with Harley's actions in the case -- felt the songs were similar enough to grant summary judgment. But if you're looking for a guide in how not to go about a lawsuit, this seems to be it.