Curiosity

Curiosity requires a sense of inquisitiveness.

Not all inquiries reflect curiosity, curiosity is inquisitive by nature.

Curiosity is the desire to learn by asking questions, dissecting, examining, exploring and investigating.

Curiosity is at the heart of most experimentation, and to be truly satisfying requires the ability to avoid preconceived ideas or foregone conclusions, but not necessarily ignoring them.

Stephen Hawking once said that “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

Curiosity is a recognition of what we don’t know and the hope that by exploring the unknown, we may learn and discover new questions to ask.

It is the paradox of illumination – but more on that next time.

Thank You for 2015 – Best Wishes for 2016

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This is the time of year when many of you are celebrating holidays; spending time with family, friends and loved ones; bidding farewell to 2015; and looking forward to the New Year – 2016. A time when many of us pause to reflect on what has happened in the past year and wonder what the new year will bring. There are people who have touched us and some with whom we’ve gotten closer; some we have missed and many with whom we resolve to try and be better in the new year; and perhaps a few we might like to forget. We pause to remember those who are no longer with us and appreciate that by remembering them, we keep their spirit – all we have learned from them and all they have meant to us – alive. As 2015 comes to an end, we reflect on friendships and relationships, events and experiences. Many will use the opportunity to thank those who have helped us in tough times and those with whom we cherish sharing the good times.

For me it has always been a time to resolve to keep doing the good things I’ve done and to be better about trying to do those things I should have done. This time of year gives me an excuse to say thank you and express appreciation to everyone who has enriched my life. If you are reading this, you are part of my audience – part of the fabric of my professional life and, like the threads of that fabric, you have helped me weave the patterns and textures you read in these digital pages and the thoughts and sensitivities that become imprinted in my mind. I am grateful for your readership and in some cases, your friendship. I am always appreciative when you take a moment to read and perhaps gain some insight, while also being a little entertained.

So let me take this the opportunity to wish each of you, your families, friends, loved ones and yes, even an enemy or two, a beautiful and joyous holiday season and a healthy, happy new year, filled with wonder and magic, health and joy, challenge and opportunity, and prosperity and success. I especially want to thank a few people at Rimon like Kaitlin Southron, Lois Thomson and Rebecca Blaw who make this blog happen. These are the people you don’t see, but I do! They make Legal Bytes come alive. They are always amazing, consistently awesome and unbelievable under pressure. There are insufficient words to express my gratitude and appreciation – especially when they get my email that says “can we please post this ASAP.” Thank you. You make it look easy, you make me look good. I could not do this without you!

Continue reading “Thank You for 2015 – Best Wishes for 2016”

…and the Oscar Selfie Goes To or (the Unexpected Virtue of Being a Fish)

Everyone knows there is competition, hype and controversy over nominations and awards at each year’s contest run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The competition culminates in an annual show broadcast around the globe and endearingly referred to as the “Academy Awards,” or simply the “Oscars” – referring to the golden statuette given out during the broadcast and evidencing the winners. In recent years, the hosts of the Oscar broadcasts – some controversial and others not – have changed almost as often as the tidy-whities displayed by Michael Keaton  in this year’s Best Picture winner Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). But do you know the legal controversy surrounding the Oscars?

Here are the facts:

Ellen DeGeneres wanted to take a “selfie” together with some of the most famous people in Hollywood, and by “tweeting” the photo, it become the most re-tweeted Twitter post ever. The camera used for the selfie was a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Samsung is one of the advertisers with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Samsung gave it to Ellen for promotional purposes at the event. We don’t know of any agreement between Samsung and either the Academy or Ellen DeGeneres regarding the device or any photos or messages using the Galaxy Note 3. We do know Ellen did not actually take the picture. To get everyone she wanted to fit into the picture, Ellen passed the camera to Bradley Cooper, who had longer arms. He got everyone in the frame and pressed the shutter.

Here is the photo and tweet that resulted, and which immediately went viral when posted on Twitter.

which she then ‘Tweeted’

Continue reading “…and the Oscar Selfie Goes To or (the Unexpected Virtue of Being a Fish)”

Entertainment Media Crowd Funding Oscar (No, Not That One)

In 1918 there were no Academy Awards. But there was another Oscar! Oscar Micheaux, who taught us something about financing media and entertainment projects – perhaps the first crowd funding entrepreneur in the publishing and motion picture industry.

If you would like to know more about crowd funding and what’s new and what’s next (and about Oscar), you can read about it in Volume 25, Issue 3 of the Entertainment Law Review, where an article about crowd funding, authored by Joseph I. Rosenbaum, was first published by Sweet and Maxwell in London (a Thomson Reuters (Professional) UK Limited company.

You can read Joe’s entire article or download the PDF for your own personal use (i.e., not for redistribution) right here: Crowd Funding – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Investment Bank. [PDF]

As always, if you want to know more about Crowd Funding (or any other matter requiring legal representation, counsel or guidance, please contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.

Mississippi Ratifies the 13th Amendment – Thanks ‘Lincoln’

To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether to post this directly on the Legal Bytes blog as a news item or list it under Useless But Compelling Facts. But the news won out.

So now it is official and perhaps an illustration of how life can imitate art – in this case the motion picture “Lincoln”, directed by Steven Spielberg. You can now add to the list of things for which the film, a brilliant characterization of Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to formally abolish involuntary servitude for all time, can take credit: the correction of an oversight for 18 years and perhaps the confirmation of an act that was 130 years in the making in the state of Mississippi.

As our story begins, Dr. Ranjan Batra, an associate professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, decided to do some fact-checking after viewing the movie. Curiously, it seems, he discovered that Mississippi had not legally effected the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States – the Amendment that abolished slavery in the United States.

Now in case you are wondering how this could be, a little legal procedural history is in order. In December 1865, three-fourths of the U.S. states ratified the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution – a number sufficient to make the Amendment officially part of the Constitution. At the time, a number of states did oppose the Amendment – Mississippi among them. In the ensuing years after the Civil War ended, all of the remaining states eventually did vote to ratify the Amendment. Indeed, the Mississippi legislature voted to ratify the Amendment in 1995! But in order to make it official, the state was required to notify the U.S. Archivist of the passage of the resolution – and through some oversight, Mississippi never did so.

Well, Dr. Batra spoke to a colleague, Ken Sullivan, who in turn contacted Delbert Hosemann, the Mississippi Secretary of State. Secretary of State Hosemann, recognizing the oversight, sent a copy of the 1995 Mississippi resolution to the Office of the Federal Register January 30, 2013. According to published reports, on February 7, 2013, just more than a month ago, the Federal Register wrote to the state of Mississippi confirming that “with this action, the State of Mississippi has ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Now isn’t that better than an Academy Award?

U.S. Court Protects Middle Earth. Hobbits, Not Inmates, Take Over Asylum.

A United States District Court for the Central District of California has granted plaintiffs Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, MGM and Saul Zaentz – the motion picture studios and producer behind the forthcoming film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" – a temporary restraining order against Global Asylum (also known as The Asylum of Burbank), blocking the release of "Age of the Hobbits." The plaintiffs previously filed suit against Global Asylum (Warner Brothers Entertainment, et al. v. The Global Asylum, Inc.; CV 12 – 9547 PSG (CWx)), seeking an injunction against infringement and damages for trademark dilution, false designation of origin, copyright infringement, false advertising, unfair competition and violations of California’s Business and Professions Code. The Peter Jackson film, a motion picture adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic book slated to open tomorrow, December 14, continues the successful "middle earth" franchise created by the success of The Lord of the Rings film series. The motion picture epic trilogy reportedly has gleaned more than $3 billion to date.

Asylum has a history of creating relatively low-budget films with parodied titles of Hollywood blockbusters (e.g., "Snakes On A Train," "Transmorphers: Fall of Man," "American Warships"). The studios pointed out these alleged parodies are always timed to coincide with release of each major motion picture counterpart and use "confusingly similar titles."

In granting the restraining order, Judge Phillip S. Gutierrez said the plaintiffs satisfied the legal standard requiring a plaintiff to demonstrate it has a valid copyright infringement claim, that there would be imminent danger to the plaintiff if the order is not granted, that the plaintiff would suffer more and that the order would advance the public interest. The judge’s decision specifically notes that: "The evidence of the advertising and promotion for ‘Age of Hobbits,’ as well as the media coverage the film has received, provides support for Plaintiffs’ contention that Asylum intended to deceive consumers by associating its movie with Plaintiffs’ works." You can read the Order in its entirety right here, Order Granting Plaintiff’s Ex Parte Application for a Temporary Restraining Order.

As always, if you need help or more information, contact me, Joseph I. Rosenbaum (joseph.rosenbaum@rimonlaw.com), or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work.

Protection of Minors Doesn’t Trample Free Speech in Online Games

In 2005, California enacted a ban on the sale or rental of violent video games (defined as a game that depicts killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being) to minors. The stimulus for the law was the stated belief that violent videogames are likely to make minors become more aggressive and violent. The penalty for retailers who violate the ban? As much as $1,000 per violation.

As you might imagine, the legal challenge started almost immediately – from publishers, distributors and sellers; and today, in a 7–2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ruling by an appeals court that held the California law unconstitutional. I believe (although I didn’t go back and check yet) that California now becomes the seventh state to have such a law struck down. Justice Scalia, in summarizing the decision, is reported to have said, “Our cases hold that minors are entitled to a significant degree of First Amendment protection. Government has no free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which they may be exposed"; and in his written opinion for the majority noted, "Even where the protection of children is the object, the constitutional limits on governmental action apply."

We will try to bring you more details once we analyze the 18-page opinion handed down today, but if you have questions, feel free to call me, Joseph I. ("Joe") Rosenbaum, or any of the Rimon attorneys with whom you regularly work.

Looking Ahead to 2011: If Brevity Be the Soul of Wit

A line recited by Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1602) comes to mind today. It’s the phrase "since brevity is the soul of wit . . . I will be brief." FYI, Polonius is a windbag in the play. There is also another phrase, often wrongfully attributed to Franz Kafka, that goes something like "lawyers are the only creatures that can write 1000 pages and call it a brief."

Well, here we are at the end of 2010. Those of you who have been reading faithfully know that each year, I create a Legal Bytes piece with no hypertext links to distract you; no citations; no dazzling factoids; and no breaking news stories. This time, I’ve decided to do something different. I am going to be brief. Instead of philosophy or predictions, I’m going to give you 10 words I believe may stimulate YOUR thinking about 2011. That’s it. I trust you. Most of you are sharper than I anyway.

You don’t have to buckle up or fasten your seat belts. Pull up a chair, open your BlackBerry, Kindle, Droid, iPhone, PC, Laptop, Netbook, Web-TV, PDA, Tablet or whatever your favorite Legal Bytes’ reading device might be; grab an espresso, a glass of tea (or whatever your liquid of choice might be); sit back and enjoy. Here goes:

  1. Mobile
  2. Behavior
  3. Privacy
  4. Social
  5. Cloud
  6. Neutrality
  7. Monetize
  8. Consolidate
  9. Engagement
  10. Global

That’s it. Oh, there is another word – profile – but that’s the subject of my first Legal Bytes blog for 2011. You will just have to come back for it!

 

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2011!

Pardon Me, Your Name is Showing (Perception or Reality?)

Before we moved online to a blog format, from 1996 through the end of 2008, Legal Bytes was published as a one-page, monthly newsletter. But even then we had Useless But Compelling Facts, a feature our readers tell us they like! That said, the threads of continuity continue to haunt us. Witness the following:

In March 2004, the Useless But Compelling Fact question asked how “The Doors” got its name. The answer was that Jim Morrison decided to call his band The Doors after reading The Doors of Perception (1954), a novel written by Aldous Huxley about his use of hallucinogens. Huxley was made famous by his 1932 novel, Brave New World.

Although Legal Bytes was not yet a blog back in 2008, we have digitized and uploaded Legal Bytes material from as far back as 2004! Why is this relevant? Because in 2008, Legal Bytes published a short article entitled "The Doors of Perception Can Sometimes Lead to Harsh Reality," about a false advertising case involving the use of Jim Morrison’s name, likeness or other distinctive characteristics, in advertising by a concert band that included two former members of the original The Doors. Now it seems that Jim Morrison’s fans, followers, administrative agencies and regulators continue to seem intent on protecting and restoring Mr. Morrison’s good name.

There is a joke that goes something like, “if you remember the 1960s, you probably weren’t there.” For those of you who do recall, you will remember Mr. Morrison was convicted of profanity and indecent exposure stemming from allegations he exposed himself during a concert at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami in 1969. At the time of his trial, other band members insisted he never actually exposed himself, but fans offered conflicting versions of what happened and he was ultimately convicted. That conviction was being appealed by Mr. Morrison at the time of his death in Paris in 1971.

Well a few days ago—more than 40 years from his conviction and at the request of outgoing Florida Governor Charlie Crist—the Clemency Board in Florida unanimously voted to pardon Mr. Morrison (posthumously) for his conviction. Rest in peace.

North Carolina Creates Tax Incentive for Digital Media Companies

Interactive digital media developers that are currently located in North Carolina—as well as those contemplating doing business in North Carolina—should evaluate their business activities to take full advantage of the tax benefits of a new North Carolina tax credit for companies developing interactive digital media, including video game companies and developers of online virtual worlds and interactive websites that allow consumers to create and manipulate certain digital goods (i.e., avatars in role-playing scenarios). In particular, digital media developers should consider joint ventures with educational institutions that will allow them to maximize the benefits provided by the North Carolina credit. For more information on North Carolina’s new tax credit for digital media developers, please read our full client alert, “North Carolina Creates New Tax Incentive Opportunity for Digital Media Companies,” written by Rimon attorneys Donald M. Griswold, Michael A. Jacobs, John P. Feldman and Kelley C. Miller.