W.K. Kellogg Foundation Awards Silverback Society a $300,000 Grant to Fund the Mentorship of Impressionable Young Men
The Silverback Society is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2007 to provide mentoring services to eighth-grade boys located throughout the City of New Orleans. The Silverback’s Society’s mantra is, “Generations Depend on Me,” and its objective is to provide positive male role models and life-changing educational opportunities to boys, particularly African Americans.
The Silverback Society is proud and thrilled to be awarded a three-year $100,000 commitment from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Roy J. Rodney, Jr., Managing Director of Rodney & Etter, LLC, is a founding member of the Silverback Society and currently serves on the Board of Directors. Mr. Rodney has also donated legal services to the organization. Rodney & Etter, LLC, the Silverback Society and W.K. Kellogg Foundation share the common belief that investing in our children today is truly paying it forward for the world’s future tomorrow.
On May 7, 2013, the Institute for Paralegal Education is hosting a seminar entitled, “A Paralegal’s Guide to Trial Preparation from Start to Finish” at the InterContinental New Orleans. Rodney & Etter’s paralegal, Robin LaBranch, will be presenting two segments of the presentation: the first on “Useful Discovery for Trial,” and the second on “Effective Use of Evidence.”
Ms. LaBranch focuses in the areas of toxic tort defense, civil litigation, products liability and insurance defense. She handles all aspects of the case, from initial client contact to trial preparation and participation. She conducts factual research, investigations, and client interviews. Ms. LaBranch is responsible for preparing witness lists and exhibits, trial notebooks, demand and settlement documents, and deposition schedules and summaries. She coordinates and manages document production, locates and interviews witnesses and experts, organizes pleadings and trial exhibits, gathers and reviews medical records, and assists lawyers at trial.
Ms. LaBranch received her B.A. degree in Paralegal Studies and Social Science at Tulane University. She is a member of the New Orleans Paralegal Association (NOPA), and she has worked as a paralegal for about 15 years.
Keep an eye out in an upcoming Louisiana State Bar Association Journal for an article authored by Rodney & Etter, LLC attorneys Roy J. Rodney, Jr., John K. Etter and Veronica J. Lam entitled, “The Last Stand of the Duty to Sit Doctrine in Louisiana.” The article addresses the foundations of Louisiana law on recusal, the rise of the Louisiana Code of Judicial Conduct Canons, and how Louisiana Circuit Courts have continued to apply the duty to sit doctrine in the face of Louisiana Supreme Court decisions that favor recusal where there is the appearance of impropriety. The article also points out that the federal system and the majority of other states favor recusal to uphold the appearance of justice over a judge’s “duty to sit.”
The “duty to sit” – that is, the job of hearing cases – does not conflict with the Code of Civil Procedure. On the other hand, the inflated or pernicious version contends that the “duty to sit” doctrine encourages judges to remain on cases from which they arguably should have recused themselves. It improperly allows a weighing of the judges’ own duty to purpose against the merits. Louisiana should eliminate the so-called pernicious version of the duty to sit while preserving the benign concept that judges not avoid hard or risky cases.
The duty to sit is an outdated, problematic doctrine unhelpful to twenty-first century questions of judicial recusal. Despite legislative and jurisprudential efforts to eliminate the so-called “pernicious” version of the duty to sit doctrine, it continues to appear and exert undue negative influence in Louisiana, other states, and some federal court decisions.
On February 15, 2013, Roy Rodney, Jr. presented on this topic to local judges at a CLE in Baton Rouge held by the Louisiana Judicial Council of the National Bar Association. For more information on either the Louisiana Bar Journal article or the presentation to the Louisiana Judicial Council, feel free to email InTouch@rodneyandetter.com.
On March 1, 2013, Rodney & Etter LLC opened its new office located in the CityCentre of Houston, Texas. CityCentre is an upscale mixed-use development in Houston, Texas. It was originally known as Town & Country Mall, competing with the then upscale West Oaks Mall and neighboring Memorial City Mall. Opened in spring of 2010, CityCentre is a 1,800,000 square feet (170,000 m2) development with 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) of retail, restaurants and entertainment, 149,000 square feet (13,800 m2) fitness facility, 425,000 square feet (39,500 m2) of office space, as well as many different types of housing.
Rodney & Etter LLC’s new office is located at:
800 Town and Country Blvd.
Suite 300, City Centre
Houston, TX 77024
Phone: (832) 431-3170
Fax: (832) 431-3001
Attorneys Roy Rodney, Jr. and John Etter are licensed to practice law in Louisiana and Texas. Rodney & Etter will continue to provide top-notch, client-focused lawyering services in a variety of practice areas, including environmental litigation and toxic torts, complex civil litigation, and intellectual property law.
The Governor of California, Jerry Brown, recently allowed “a two-year extension of California’s $100 million-a-year film and television tax credit program.” This gives the state five more years to make the film tax credit available. The California Film Commission goes into further detail as to what this program involves.
The California Film and Television Tax Credit Program was put into place so that “qualified taxpayers [could get] a credit against income and/or sales and use taxes, based on qualified expenditures for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2011. Credits applied to income tax liability are not refundable. Only tax credits issued to an “independent film” may be transferred or sold to an unrelated party. Other qualified taxpayers may carry over tax credits for 5 years and transfer tax credits to an affiliate”.
There is more information regarding what type of productions are approved to use this tax program. However, the problem California is facing is that $100 million might not be enough to keep up with other states that have similar tax credits. There is currently a waiting list to even apply for it in California. A lot of people are choosing to make their movies in states where they can benefit.
Louisiana has an attractive Motion Picture Tax Incentive Act. With a 30% investor tax credit, it’s no wonder why this state is ranked as the nations #1 location destination state for film production in the U.S. The film investment must exceed $300,000, but there is an additional 5% tax credit if residents of Louisiana are employed as crew members and support staff. Filmmakers also get 25% production credit, 25% infrastructure credit, 25% digital media, and 25% live performance credit. There is a 10% tax credit thrown in with live performances if residents of Louisiana are used in the production.
In comparison, the Georgia 2008 Entertainment Industry Investment Act offers a 20% tax credit of all production costs on films or shows that spend more than $500,000. California’s equivalent incentive requires television series and feature films to be at least $1 million but no more than $75 million in production costs. The $500,000 minimum only applies to Movies of the Week and Miniseries in California. Georgia also offers an additional 10% tax cut if the state’s entertainment logo is placed in the credits of the film or show.
Louisiana and Georgia are not the only states on which filmmakers are setting their sights to do their filming. North Carolina has a 25% tax credit, and the minimum amount of production costs is only $250,000. Colorado, Washington, and Oregon also offer tax programs that can benefit filmmakers. Until California’s tax credit program can compete with those of other states, many filmmakers will continue to take advantage of whatever incentives suit their production needs.
During the 2012 Election, serious environmental concerns were addressed. With President Obama being elected for another term, he will have his hands full with these issues. Here are the five things that require the most attention:
1) Clean Energy
There are several policies on clean energy being reviewed to counteract the negative effects the use of fossil fuels has on our environment and economy. The United States’ use of 19.6 million barrels of oil a day, 25% more than the world’s total, easily causes global warming. Renewable energy like the use of wind, solar paneling, and geothermal energy allow less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By providing clean energy, global warming will slow down, and the damaged economy will get the boost it needs. The implementation of some of these policies will also benefit the economy by creating new jobs.
2) Climate Change
Climate change also contributes to the jeopardy of the environment. Abnormal weather affects a number of factors like crops, air quality, water supply, and the economy, just to name a few. Massive hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, fires, flooding, and cyclones that have recently taken place all over the world illustrate the devastation that climate change can produce. NASA scientists are aware of multiple air pollution control measures that could slow global warming down, improve health and boost agricultural production.
3) Water Quality
Efforts to protect our water date back to 1948 with the Federal Pollution Control Act. It became the Clean Water Act in 1972. Every few years, Congress reviews the quality of United States’ water, pinpoints the problems, and decides which programs need to be implemented. The current poor water quality has an adverse effect on food, livestock, and health. If it is not rectified, the water will have so many pollutants in it that it will not be drinkable, nor will it be useful for cooking or cleaning.
4) Biofuel Technology
The use of biofuel technology would decrease the need for fossil fuels. Biofuels tend to cost less than gasoline, and since they are manufactured, they do not endanger natural resources by depleting them. Our dependency on other countries to drill for oil would lessen, which could help to jumpstart our economy by creating domestic jobs. Biofuel technology would lower the output of carbon dioxide, something that is currently contributing to global warming. Biofuel might have some disadvantages, but it is still a healthier, reliable source of renewable energy that can be used to improve the environment.
5) Waste and Consumption
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. This is not a new concept, but it is even more important now, because it alleviates the excessive waste and consumption of most things being used. It is important because any extremes in this area drastically affect the forests, water, soil, and other natural resources. Having too much waste creates a chain reaction from overflowing landfills, to toxic substances sinking into the soil, to adverse affects on our livestock and crops. Additionally, plastic can end up in the ocean, breaking down and becoming dangerous to all animals inhabiting the sea.
This information might paint a picture of doom and gloom. However, history has shown that it is possible to “live within our means” with the available resources. It will be a challenge, but it can be done with the right political and economic backing. We support any efforts by our President to address these issues which affect our environment.
Vimeo is well-known for putting the “me” in music videos. It prides itself on being a place for people who love to create and share videos. However, big record labels, including Capitol Records, claim that several of its artists did not consent to the “sharing” of their work.
Capital Records, along with other big record labels, filed suit in New York against Vimeo three years ago, alleging that Vimeo has infringed upon copyrights on works by artists including The Beatles, Coldplay, Norah Jones, Nat King Cole and the Beach Boys. The suit was filed in reaction to Vimeo creator Jakob Lodwick’s coining of the term “lip dub” in 2006. Lip dubbing combines lip-synching and audio dubbing, while adding your own free interpretation in a music video. The big record labels contend that Vimeo encourages the infringement of their artists’ copyrighted works in order to create original videos.
Vimeo, in its defense, claims that lip dubs are fair use of the original music. The 1976 Copyright Act gave artists exclusive rights to reproduce or create similar works from their original works; distribute copies and phonorecords of their work to the public by sale, lease or rental; perform and display their work publicly; and perform a sound recording by means of digital audio (as of the 1995 amendment). However, there is a “fair use” exception to the Act. Others can reproduce the original work of another for various purposes, including criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research without infringing on the artist’s copyright. One of the factors to consider in determining whether it’s a fair use is whether the purpose and character of the use is of a commercial nature, or for nonprofit educational purposes.
Vimeo will have a difficult time arguing fair use successfully, because it permits its users to gain commercial profit from their lip dubbed music videos in two ways. First, Vimeo offers PRO accounts that allow users “a simple, high-quality platform to host their commercial content.” Not only can the Vimeo users promote their videos commercially, but Vimeo also profits by charges for its PRO accounts. Second, Vimeo just introduced “pay-to-view” and tip jar services for its users’ videos.
Vimeo also argues in its defense that it has a safe harbor from copyright infringement liability, as recently decided in the Viacom v. YouTube lawsuit. The New York Court of Appeals noted that “user-generated content” websites such as YouTube and Vimeo are not liable for copyright infringement unless they have actual knowledge of specific infringements by their users. The big record labels rebut that Vimeo’s business model differs from other sites like YouTube, because Vimeo employees actively encourage copyright infringement and also review the content of its users’ videos regularly.
On Friday, January 4, 2013, the big record labels moved to conclude their case against Vimeo by summary judgment.
President Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the United States of America, gave his second inauguration speech on Monday, January 21, 2013, also the annual celebration of the birth date of civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. President Obama began his speech by referencing the ultimate law of the United States: our Constitution.
Rodney & Etter, LLC (“R&E”) has a long history of supporting civil rights and promoting justice and equality for all. Last year, R&E was honored to receive the Louisiana Minority Supplier Development Council Professional Supplier Award of 2012.
R&E continues to fight for civil rights, wherever and whenever it sees injustice. In September of 2012, R&E filed a lawsuit against the City of New Orleans and others, for its violations of civil rights. Kimberly Crutchfield was driving at night on the highway, when she suddenly came upon an NOPD car that was parked haphazardly across two lanes and beyond the slope of the highway, out of sight. Ms. Crutchfield died within 6 hours of the car accident, leaving behind two small children.
The case is a tragedy in itself, but what is even more of a tragedy is the fact that, according to Louisiana statute, all vehicles operating on Louisiana roads must have insurance, except for government-owned vehicles. Even if a citizen successfully maintains a claim against the City, the Louisiana Constitution allows governmental entities to decide if or when they pay judgments rendered against them. This is a Catch-22 that should tell all citizens of Louisiana: beware of getting injured by your government.
On January 25, 2013, Roy J. Rodney, Jr. argued in the Civil District Court of New Orleans that Ms. Crutchfield’s family had rights to sue the City of New Orleans for a meaningful judgment. Chief Judge Piper Griffin denied the City’s filed exception to dismiss the case, allowing R&E to fight another day. R&E is undeterred by the prospect of a tough legal battle to protect the constitutional and civil rights of Ms. Crutchfield’s family.
Everyone has a favorite music artist. The thought of seeing them perform in person becomes a quick afterthought if they are no longer alive. However, with the recent ‘holographic’ performance of rapper, Tupac Shakur, many fans are getting their wish.
Before venturing down this road of entertainment, there are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Copyright Laws
The 1976 Copyright Act gives people exclusive rights to reproduce or create similar works from their original works; distribute copies and phonorecords of their work to the public by sale, lease or rental; perform and display their work publicly; and perform a sound recording by means of digital audio (as of the 1995 amendment). The work is protected for the duration of the author’s life plus 70 years after death.
2. Right of Publicity
Right of publicity laws vary from state to state, but all protect against commercial exploitation of someone’s name or likeness. According to the ABA Business Law Section’s Online Resource, celebrities and other artists own the copyright to their work, which protects original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works by federal copyright law. Depending on the year of the published work, an artist’s right of publicity may also be protected for 70 years after death.
Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols or designs that identify someone’s goods and services. An artist is also protected against anyone negatively using their name or likeness. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, once a trademark is registered, it is valid as long as you continue to file that it is in use. If the filing is not maintained, you risk your registration being cancelled with no chance of reinstatement.
Digitized versions of celebrities might be referred to as holograms, but if there is a two-dimensional aspect to the image, it isn’t an actual hologram. Like the ‘reappearance’ of Tupac Shakur, it could be the parlor trick involving the projection technique called Pepper’s Ghost. This allows someone to be projected onto a stage using a sheet of glass and manipulated light, giving a ghost-like appearance while being able to perform next to a living person, or even on their own.
Intellectual property law may apply differently where a hologram or projection is being used, so there is more to consider. Personality rights cover any likeness of a person, her voice, and her signature. These laws were put in place so that unauthorized use could be terminated immediately upon discovery. Due to the capabilities of technology today, the California Screen Actors Guild sponsored a bill, affectionately known as the Dead Celebrities Bill, that allows celebrities publicity rights to go beyond the 50 years after their death (In 1999 the California Legislature changed the definition to 70 years). Being in control of one’s identity also extends to one’s heirs, upon death.
This information merely skims the surface of all the legal and financial responsibilities associated with celebrities’ intellectual property. One thing’s for certain, it is better to have the knowledge regarding these laws and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Earlier this year Netflix’s four-year deal with Starz expired, without renewal in sight. Losing Starz, as well as the 60% increase in subscriber fees, caused many subscribers to cancel or downgrade their monthly plans. This loss had been interpreted as a blow that diminished Netflix’s market value However, Netflix’s snatching of the rights to the Disney movies from Starz (which Netflix previously had access to through that Starz deal), should begin to fill a programming void and Netflix stands to retain and attract even more customers.
The Disney contract with Netflix covers films released in theaters from 2016 to 2018 [and] will grant Netflix any new Disney, Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel and Disney nature titles. Disney’s deal for Lucasfilm has not closed. This will also enable customers to view Disney films a little over six months after they have been released in theaters. Until all of the additional Disney films/titles are accessible to customers, Netflix has focused more attention on their original series to keep subscribers interested in what their streaming services have to offer. This new approach is making Netflix more like traditional pay-TV channels such as HBO, Starz and Showtime.
The show ‘Arrested Development’ first aired on FOX but was cancelled in 2006. It will make its comeback through Netflix and the entire new season will be available for viewing upon release. This will not be the first original series, nor the last. ‘Lilyhammer’ was among the first and the highly anticipated, ‘House of Cards’, starring Kevin Spacey, is set to be released in the next couple of months. Eli Roth, director/writer of the first two ‘Hostel’ films, as well as ‘Grindhouse’ and ‘Cabin Fever’, will introduce, ‘Hemlock Grove’, through Netflix. This original series stars Famke Janssen, from ‘X-Men’ and ‘Nip/Tuck’, is set to debut in the early part of 2013. Lastly, the highly anticipated ‘Orange Is The New Black’, based on the bestselling book written by Piper Kerman, is being shaped by the ‘Weeds’ alum including creator Jenji Kohan. ‘Orange’ stars Taylor Schilling and Jason Biggs. By attracting well known actors, writers and directors, Netflix stands to offer the exclusivity that once caused Starz to pull away.
Although Netflix has promised their customer base they will not increase prices drastically again, it will be interesting to follow the growth of the Netflix business model. With this plan, Netflix might very well recoup their consumer losses from the past, as long as they get a dramatic increase in subscribers.