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Friday, August 26, 2011

Federal Bill to combat Internet Piracy and Theft

Bill would help combat copyright offenders on the Internet

By Editorial (click here for Washington Post)

CITY SIDEWALKS ONCE were lined with merchants peddling counterfeit designer handbags or second-rate copies of popular movies. Such vendors are less commonplace today, but counterfeit goods have proliferated more than ever, thanks to the Internet.

Fake goods — from sneakers to pharmaceuticals — are produced half a world away but can be marketed to U.S. consumers through foreign Web sites. Some sites stream pirated U.S.-produced or -owned movies and television shows.

Such theft costs the copyright- or trademark-holders billions of dollars each year and thwarts the ability of writers, producers, songwriters and others in the creative arts to earn the royalties they are due. Consumers often find themselves saddled with shoddy goods and little or no recourse to get their money back. Unlike domestic sites, these foreign-registered businesses are often out of reach of U.S. laws.

The Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act, introduced by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, would give the government and copyright- and trademark-holders a means to combat this problem. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) is expected to introduce a House version once Congress returns next month.

The proposal would allow the Justice Department or a private rights holder to move against a rogue foreign Web site by convincing a federal judge that the site is “dedicated to” and has “no significant use” other than copyright or trademark infringement. Defendant Web sites would have the right to contest the allegation. An otherwise legitimate site that may have sold a product that turned out to be a fake or unknowingly linked to or posted an item to which it did not have the rights to would be spared from legal action.

A judge could order Internet advertising agencies and those that process financial payments to cease providing services to the offending site.

Some U.S. Internet businesses and open Internet advocates worry that the Protect IP Act could choke off legitimate speech by authorizing the demise of entire Web sites, rather than specific content. They point to the effectiveness of theDigital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which requires Web site owners to take down individual pieces of pirated content after a copyright holder complains. But what if the Web site is a consistent scofflaw?

The Protect IP Act takes pains to protect Internet service providers, search engines and others that may have done business with a rogue site. They are not required to scour the Internet for offenders nor are they held liable if they happen to host or provide services to a site that is eventually deemed unlawful. They are only required to take “reasonable” and “technically feasible” measures to obey a court order. There may still be room to tweak these provisions to ensure that they are not more sweeping than necessary. But there is a need for a legal tool that stops those who persistently leech off of the innovations of others.

(click here for Washington Post)

Broadway Shut Down for the Weekend

Times Square, NYC
George Rose/Getty Images


On Friday afternoon, The Broadway League issued an official statement saying that all Broadway performances in New York City had been canceled this weekend.
"As a result of the suspension of public transportation by government authorities in preparation of the incoming storm, all Broadway performances on Saturday, August 27th and Sunday, August 28th will be cancelled," the League said.
Paul Libin, chairman of The Broadway League, said in a statement, "The safety and security of theatregoers and employees is everyone's primary concern. As a result of the suspension of public transportation by government authorities in preparation of Hurricane Irene, all performances will be cancelled on Saturday, August 27th and Sunday, August 28th."
This marks the largest city-wide theater industry shutdown since the 2001 terror attacks in New York City. Several major Off-Broadway shows have also been listed as "canceled."
Earlier on Friday, The Broadway League and The Off-Broadway League said that Broadway shows scheduled for the weekend would go on as planned. Hours later, a flurry of cancellations began to surface, including Disney's The Lion King and Mary Poppins productions and War Horse.
Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana's weekend shows have also been nixed due to the impending hurricane. "The weekend performances of Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil at Radio City Music Hall ... are cancelled due to the expected exrteme weather conditions and transit service shutdown," the statement read.
David Rooney in New York contributed to this report.

From the Hollywood Reporter (click here).

Entertainment Industry News

Hurricane to take a bite out of boxoffice, Real Navy instead of actor on Seal Team Movie, and would you work for Charlie Sheen?

No help necessary. Looks like "The Help" will stay on top of the box office for the second week in a row. There are three new movies opening this weekend including "Our Idiot Brother" starring Paul Rudd, which I'm told is darker than the ads would lead you to believe. A misleading marketing campaign? I'm shocked. Of course, there is also the Hurricane Irene factor, which could keep folks on the East Coast home. Box office previews from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.
Join the military, become a movie star.Why cast actors to play Navy Seals when you can just use real Navy Seals? That's what the folks making "Act of Valor" decided to do. The movie, from the Bandito Brothers production company, is not a documentary. Instead it has a script that the Seals helped write themselves. The movie is one of many films in the works about the military that differ from recent efforts because they try to avoid politics, which sometimes keeps people away from the box office. The Wall Street Journal on Hollywood's latest effort to recruit folks to military-themed movies.
Was Kate Gosselin not available?The restructuring of CBS's daytime show "The Talk" continues with Kardashian mamma bear Kris Jenner added to the chat show along with comedian Sheryl Underwood. That's good because I was getting worried that the Kardashians were not getting enough exposure. They are replacing Leah Remini and Holly Robinson Peete. Sharon Osbourne is also taking a break from the show but the folks at "The Talk" say she'll be back. More on the shifts from Deadline Hollywood.
Sharpton sparks. Activist Al Sharpton's new gig on MSNBC is causing a lot of controversy, but will it get ratings? Sharpton, still known to many as the track suit-wearing rabble-rouser who polarized New York City in the 1980s and early 1990s, has gone through a makeover. Not only is he slimmed down and in suits, he's almost establishment. Of course, to those of us who lived in New York back in the day, it is a transition that is hard to swallow. The Daily Beast looks at Sharpton's latest push toward legitimacy.
This job better come with mental health coverage.The search for an executive producer for Charlie Sheen's new sitcom "Anger Management" is picking up steam. The show, based on the Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson film of the same name, still does not have a network home. Odds are it will be on cable, although Turner Broadcasting has already said it's not interested. For some reason, networks are wary about signing on for a show that stars Sheen. There is some concern that at times he can be a challenge. More on the potential gluttons for punishment from the Hollywood Reporter andDeadline Hollywood.
Too puny to pack a punch. Vulture asks the question on all our minds: Are Hollywood's female action stars including Zoe Saldana and Angelina Jolie too skinny to really kick butt?
Inside the Los Angeles Times: David Lazarus makes a plea for more choices from his cable operator. Betsy Sharkey on "Colombiana."
-- Joe Flint
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