Bloomberg BNA’s Patent Trademark & Copyright Law Daily™is the IP industry’s premier news service, offering objective, timely,and reliable daily news coverage and commentary from leading IP law...
By Peter Leung
July 28 — Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.'s popular TV show “Empire” does not infringe the copyrights in a documentary about a self-styled “pimp” and singing group manager, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled July 28 ( Newt v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. , 2016 BL 242660, C.D. Cal., No. 15-cv-02778-CBM-JPRx, 7/27/16 ).
The victory for Fox comes in one of several lawsuits brought by plaintiffs alleging copyright infringement over the show.
In Ron Newt's case, he alleged that the television series “Empire” infringed his copyrights in the screenplay, DVD and book about his own life. According to Newt, “Empire” has various aspects including plot, themes, mood, pace and characters derived from his works, which are about his life as a prostitution ring leader and his entry into the music industry. Fox moved to dismiss the claims, arguing that there are no substantial similarities between the works as a matter of law.
The court agreed with Fox and granted the motion to dismiss. For example, it found that while there are some similarities in that both parties' works feature characters involved in crime and music, there are also differences. For example, in the Fox show, the lead character's wife goes to prison for her husband's drug dealing. However, in the plaintiff's story, the lead character's wife goes to prison for gun possession.
Also, the plaintiff's works feature flashbacks showing the lead character as a crime boss, while flashbacks in “Empire” show the lead character as a small-time criminal. Such differences mean there is no substantial similarity between the plots, the court ruled.
Newt's copyright claims based on other aspects similarly fail, it said. The moods of the works are not substantially similar because, for example, while Newt's works are frequently dark, violent and sexually graphic, “Empire” has some violent scenes that are not the focus of the show.
Judge Consuelo Marshall granted the motion. Abrams Coate LLP represented Newt. Caldwell Leslie and Proctor PC represented Fox.
To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Leung in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at firstname.lastname@example.org
Text available at http://src.bna.com/hem.
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)