Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Held Liable

Within all the realms of entertainment, there are many apparent and hidden liabilities. Liabilities are hindrances. Hopefully companies take insurance to avoid the mess that they can cause for their business. Due to my interest for events, I checked out some podcasts that detailed some so I could get a better understanding of how they can apply to my future business. The first one I looked at was Entertainment Law Update Ep 12  by Gordon P. Firemark, Esq. It caught my attention because he spoke on theft of ideas. The example was about a script that was pitched and apparently became the base for The Last Samurai movie but not credited. The court dismissed the claims because there was not substantial similarity of the protectable elements. Since I want to do concept/theme development (which encompasses a lot of ideas being thrown), I learned from the example how pitched ideas could be seen as bordering infringement. I could apply this knowledge by just being weary of copyright infringement from whatever should inspire me.

The next podcast I listened to was by the same gentleman, about Fair Use. It tied in with what I was just reviewing. Certain materials can have a limited use but may be seem as being in competition to or infringing. The case he looked at was about a play and music and the court saw it as fair use. Fair use can be arguable as it looks at competition and some things do not have a market. I could apply this to my event business by understanding how material is classified as being used to advance. This would help me protect myself and my business so that we never see a court.

Now something I would love to work on is a fashion show. This interview was really fun to listen to and I got a lot of information. A liability for a new business starting out is proper use of funds. I learned from this podcast the importance of proposals, as the event director was able to get a venue for free by showcasing the benefits. It also stressed how WHO you know helps out a lot.  A good tip from the podcast was to update your advertising rather than presenting it all at once. This way you have a better return on investment as people know ahead of time of events. It also talked about how to keep outside vendors specific to what they need to know as those could be other liabilities.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Case of the Ex(ample)

The entertainment industry can be just as dirty as it is fun. Despite the common thing of it being about who you know, there is also a lot of detailing and unfortunately for some, a lack of detail. Within the particular field I want to work in, that being events, there are issues that I would love to avoid…

I believe that many events are centered around themes so this case surprised me. In early 2011 an event planner was threatened with a lawsuit due to event decor being similar to the Oscar's ...now this wasn't her trying to pass off as the actual event so I find it odd. She ending up settling but infringement is certainly real. I honestly don't know how that works with so many themes and ideas being recycled within the entertainment industry. It is advised that those dealing with events should have intellectual property lawyers who can find and clarify anything that may be infringing.

Another case brings in the topic of emotional distress for a couple’s wedding planned by a celebrity wedding planner in 2010. These types of events are very satisfaction based which already are “iffy”. According to the couple there was intentional sabotaging by the planner, which included him not attending the wedding and this case actually went to the Supreme Court! According to the planner, there were unmade payments and he was advised by the bride's father to not attend. Weddings are already stressful, so the couple seeking punitive damages for "severe emotional distress" makes this story quite interesting.

Now though I hardly drink I am interested in alcohol. Weird. But whatever event I would work on would most likely be catered to adults and therefore alcohol would be provided as part of the social aspect of it all. I never saw myself being responsible for others other than morally but there are recent laws that put liability on you for the actions of said others. Earlier this year a case of an unfortunate accident of a teenager shows how the property owner and host were blamed. Confusingly enough, the persons in question were Jessica Simpson and her father (not the entertainer) who were not seen as liable. Depending on the jurisdiction however can make a difference, but this informed me of how important it is to get event liability insurance.

Here is a great short video about the social host liability pertaining to FLORIDA…

Looking at these cases, I see that a lot have to do with avoidance…