A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: lawsuit

Skating Over Legal Terminology

Oksana Baiul

By Asher Hawkins

Dressing up in spandex and sequins. Strapping on a pair of ice skates. Performing a carefully choreographed routine to the smooth-jazz stylings of Kenny G. Sound embarrassing?

For a professional figure skater, that’s just another day at the office. In fact, the pro-skater would probably object if it were suggested that she had agreed to engage in such a performance, but then pulled a no-show at the last minute. A couple of stunts like that, and suddenly you’re the LiLo of the skating-show world.

Earlier this month, Ukraine-born former Olympian Oksana Baiul sued NBC and a skating-show production company whose events apparently are regularly broadcast by the network, in state court in Manhattan, alleging that her name and likeness were used in promotional campaigns for a pair of recent skate shows, even though she had never officially signed on as a performer for the events.

Reports about Ms. Baiul’s suit by the Associated Press, New York Daily News, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and others described the gist of her allegations, and readers would be forgiven for thinking, after reading these accounts, that Ms. Baiul’s claims primarily involve contract or defamation law.

As it happens, the key doctrine on which her complaint actually relies is a legal concept commonly (and sometimes inaccurately) referred to as “right of publicity.”

Some background:

Do you even remember Ms. Baiul? At the age of 16, she overcame injury during the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer to beat out American sweetheart Nancy Kerrigan for the gold. Her unfortunate hairstyle and outfit choices may have made Tonya Harding look like a fashion icon by comparison, but oh, how she could lutz!

Ms. Baiul’s post-Olympic career has had its ups and downs; in the late 1990s, national media regularly reported on her apparent struggles with alcohol abuse. Still, she continues to perform in skating shows.

According to her lawsuit, in mid-2011 skating-show production company Disson Skating contacted an agent with whom she was affiliated and offered to pay Ms. Baiul to star in two upcoming shows. The first show was to take place in December 2011 in Greenville, S.C., and feature the progressive-rock band Styx (of “Mr. Roboto” fame.) The show with Kenny G was to take place in January 2012 in the saxophonist’s hometown of Seattle. Ms. Baiul claims that although she never signed a contract with the production company – and ultimately turned down the offer – the shows’ organizers launched a print-and-radio marketing campaign that included Ms. Baiul’s name and likeness and suggested that she would be appearing in the shows. Because that didn’t happen, and because the defendants never issued a correcting press release, Ms. Baiul was left looking like a two-time no-show, and suffered irreparable damage to her reputation, her lawsuit contends.

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If something disparaging is said about a Z-list celebrity, has any harm been done?

(more…)

Comments

1 Comment »

Don’t Sue the Matchmaker

Bad date

By LASIS Staff

We’ve all been through bad blind dates. We’ve lied (“I don’t feel well, I really have to go home now” or even “Sorry, I have an early morning flight to catch”); sulked (“Nothing’s wrong, why?”); and cursed the gods above for bringing us into contact with such a nerd/cad/ space cadet (“Darn  you, gods, for bringing me into contact with this horrible individual!”)

And that’s just when the date is someone we’d rather not be having dinner with.

So we understand that Mary Kay Beckman was more than a tad disappointed when her Match.com date hid in her garage, stabbed her 10 times, kicked her, and left her for dead.  Now that’s a bad date.

Ms. Beckham is suing the dating website for “failure to warn her of the dangers of meeting “an individual whose intentions are not to find a mate, but to find victims to kill or rape,”

LASIS remembers a similar suit against Match.com.  Here are the reasons why Ms. Beckham should drop her suit and try meeting people the old fashioned way.

Comments

No Comments »

Hey That’s My Line! Now Pay Me!

Samsung Apple Ad

By Will Bartholomew

Cut to: A scene outside an Apple Store. A long line waiting for the doors to open. The text on the screen flashes “Los Angeles, California.  Only 7 hours to go.”

Young guy in a grey sweatshirt: “I heard that you have to have an adapter to use the dock on the new one.”

Another young guy in a grey sweatshirt “Yeah, yeah, but they make the coolest adapters!”

Samsung’s latest ad campaign skewers the cult of Apple by featuring hipster-types uttering lines like these. The ads are caustic. They target, grab hold of, and shake for all it’s worth the perception that Apple devotees are snooty, entitled, and clueless about the inferior caliber of their beloved products. The message is like a heat-seeking missile homed-in on the most vulnerable chinks in Apple’s armor.

These ads didn’t spring from the minds of marketing gurus in gleaming Manhattan towers, though. As The Wall Street Journal reports, many of the lines are the brainchildren of regular folks — maybe sitting on their couches, in sweats — posting on Twitter.

I don’t know about you, but if I came up with a real witty zinger, and then saw it in an ad on TV, I’d want some credit.  And compensation. Would I get it?

Is what we post on social networks our intellectual property? When our social networking gems are used by marketers — or in TV shows, movies, books, or music —have they been stolen? Can we sue?  LASIS explains.

(more…)

Comments

3 Comments »

Goodbye American Idol, Hello Lawsuit

Steven Tyler American Idol

By Gillad Matiteyahu

When Aerosmith’s lead singer, Steven Tyler, left “American Idol,” word was there there were no hard feelings on either side. But now come reports that his management company, Kovac Media Group, Inc., was unhappy with his decision to leave his judge’s robe behind. And it was even more unhappy when Mr. Tyler changed management companies.

On October 11, The Hollywood Reporter reported that KMG sued Dina LaPolt and her law firm for allegedly sabotaging Mr. Tyler’s renegotiating efforts with AI, and KMG’s relationship with Mr. Tyler.

KMG’s complaint stated four causes of action: breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the duty of confidence, intentional interference with contract, and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. The media reported them but didn’t analyze each one. LASIS will.

(more…)

Comments

1 Comment »

Dispiriting Airline Fees

Spirit airlines

By Will Bartholomew

“Unintended Consequences of DOT Regulations: $1.86.” What does that even mean?

“Passenger Usage Fee: $16.99.” I get charged again for “using” the services I’ve paid for?

Anyone who has ever bought a plane ticket is probably familiar with frustrating “hidden fees” that seem to be tacked on at every turn. I bet many have thought to themselves: “How can they get away with this? This has got to be illegal.”

A recent New York Times article memorialized the exasperation travelers experience, and this piqued our interest here at LASIS. We decided to more closely examine one of the culprits listed in the article, Spirit Airlines, to help explain the law on hidden fees, and how an airline like Spirit tries to get around it.

(more…)

Comments

No Comments »