Business Litigation for Entertainment Sector Companies
Beyond traditional copyright and entertainment litigation, companies in the content, media and entertainment industries need tough business litigators who understand their businesses, the economics of their industries, and the real-world drivers of their financial success. Together, Jenner & Block lawyers have decades of experience working in and with these industries. We bring that experience to bear in representing content, media and entertainment industry clients in business litigation across a diverse range of issues, including:
- Consumer class actions
- Data privacy and security
- Commercial fraud and related business torts
- Unfair competition
- Trade secrets
- Insurance coverage
Our Content, Media & Entertainment business litigators are some of the best and most accomplished in the country. Collectively, our litigators have handled scores of jury trials, and countless bench trials, arbitrations and appeals, including many cases before the United States Supreme Court. We count among our business litigators one Fellow of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers (an invitation extended to less than 1% of the top trial lawyers in the country), former prosecutors and public defenders, and litigators who have been recognized as “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers” and “Outstanding Women of the Bar.” Our business litigators are driven and deliver results.
Representative cases handled by our Business Litigation team include:
- FX Networks v. DISH Network: Jenner & Block is representing FX against DISH and Starz Entertainment in an action aimed at upholding the windowing system upon which motion picture licensors and licensees have relied for years. FX’s claims arise from DISH’s yearlong free giveaway of multiple pay television channels to existing DISH subscribers. The action seeks redress for the violations of FX’s exclusive rights to distribute certain motion pictures in the movies’ first free television/basic cable windows.
- In re Los Angeles Dodgers (Fox Sports Net West 2, LLC): Jenner & Block successfully represented News Corporation’s Fox Sports in a dispute with the Los Angeles Dodgers over the planned sale of the team and its assets, including media rights. Fox Sports’ regional Prime Ticket sports network has the current contract with the franchise, giving Fox the exclusive right to broadcast the Dodgers’ regular season games through the 2013 season. The contract also grants Fox the exclusive right, through November 2012, to negotiate renewed local-media deals with the team. However, on November 2, 2011, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced that the team would be sold by April 30, 2012 to resolve the team’s Chapter 11 reorganization. As part of that sale, the Dodgers attempted to impair Fox’s exclusive rights to negotiate a renewed media rights deal, asking the Bankruptcy Court to allow the Dodgers to talk to other potential buyers of the 2014 season TV rights during Fox’s exclusive negotiating period. The Bankruptcy Court granted the Dodgers’ request. In granting Fox Sports’ motion to stay the Bankruptcy Court order, the District Court found that it would likely rule in favor of Fox Sports on appeal, disallowing the premature negotiations and sale of future media rights. Within weeks of the stay order, and just days before the appeal hearing, Fox Sports and the Dodgers reached a settlement in which the Dodgers agreed to stop attempts to conduct a premature sale and negotiation of the media rights. The Dodgers also agreed to immediately assume its telecast rights agreement with Fox Sports while permitting Fox Sports to retain rights to object to a sale to Fox’s competitor.
- In re News Corporation Shareholder Derivative Litigation: Jenner & Block represents News Corporation in multiple pending derivative actions and class actions arising from the alleged news gathering practices of News of the World, a newspaper once operated by News International, a subsidiary of News Corp. Some of the pending cases also involve claims arising from News Corp.’s acquisition of Shine Group, an international production company in which Elisabeth Murdoch held the majority interest. The claims include breach of fiduciary duty, corporate waste, and violations of sections 10(b) and 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
- EchoStar Satellite Corporation v. NDS Group: Our litigators represented News Corporation’s NDS Group companies (NDS) in a piracy lawsuit brought by DISH Network (formerly Echostar) – a case the news media described as the largest corporate espionage case in U.S. history. After a five-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the jury ruled in favor of satellite television technology company NDS on the majority of the charges. In denying many of the claims, the jury awarded actual damages of $45.69 relating to a single incident involving a test card used by NDS. Plaintiffs had requested statutory damages of $1.6 billion dollars.
- LiveUniverse v. MySpace: Our litigators achieved a significant victory for MySpace, successfully obtaining the dismissal of antitrust claims brought by LiveUniverse, the owner of a social networking website that had alleged MySpace was unlawfully monopolizing the market for social networking. The case was the first antitrust case ever to address whether a social networking website can prevent its users from posting links to competitors’ webpages on its website. The district court ruled that excluding a competitor’s webpage links from MySpace.com was not anticompetitive and did not cause antitrust injury. The court found that MySpace had no duty to promote its competitors’ websites by displaying active links to those sites. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal.
- Meredith Corp. v. SESAC: Jenner & Block is currently representing SESAC in a high stakes antitrust suit brought by a putative class of independent television stations. SESAC is a performance rights organization that licenses musical compositions on behalf of affiliated composers and music publishers. The plaintiffs allege that SESAC has violated antitrust laws in the way it licenses musical works for television programming.
- Cleveland v. Twentieth Century Fox: Our litigators represented Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment, along with Blockbuster and the videocassette distribution divisions of the six other major Hollywood movie studios, in two antitrust putative class actions, one in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, and the other in the complex panel of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Plaintiffs alleged that the studio defendants agreed among themselves, and separately with Blockbuster, not to offer videocassettes of newly-released motion pictures to independent video retail stores in the United States on the same “revenue sharing” terms on which they offer them to Blockbuster. Plaintiffs alleged that these “discriminatory terms and agreements” caused independent retailers to lose customers and profits to Blockbuster, and brought suit under the Sherman and Cartwright Acts alleging, among other things, price fixing, price discrimination and unfair business practices. Defendants successfully defeated class certification in both venues. Moreover, in the federal action, after a three-week trial, the defendants won their motion for directed verdict, which was upheld on appeal by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In the Los Angeles state court action, defendants won summary judgment, which was upheld in nearly all respects by the California Court of Appeal.
- Jim Brown v. Brett Brewer: Jenner & Block represents former officers and directors of Intermix Media, which owned the majority stake in MySpace.com, in a class action alleging breaches of fiduciary duty under Delaware law and violation of Section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 relating to the sale of Intermix, including MySpace.com. Our team also secured dismissal of other defendants in the action (investment banks), as well as three of the six counts that plaintiff originally brought against the director defendants. The matter was subsequently settled and the settlement is pending approval by the court.
- Brad Greenspan v. Intermix Media: Jenner & Block litigators represented the former CEO and COO of Intermix, and other former Intermix directors, in an action brought by Intermix’s largest individual shareholder, Brad Greenspan. Greenspan alleged various breaches of fiduciary duty under Delaware law relating to the sale of Intermix, including MySpace.com, to News Corporation. The case was dismissed at the pleading stage with the California Court of Appeal upholding the dismissal.
- Insignia Systems v. News America Marketing: Our litigators represented one of the nation’s largest providers of advertising and promotions in supermarkets and drugstores in connection with various state and federal antitrust and false advertising claims. The multi-million dollar lawsuit was eventually settled during trial.
- Doe v. MySpace: Our litigators obtained a closely-watched victory for MySpace in the California Court of Appeal. In 2007, four sets of plaintiffs and their parents sued MySpace for negligence and strict products liability seeking to hold the social networking site liable for damages suffered by their teenage daughters who were sexually assaulted, offline, by men the teens had encountered via Myspace.com. On behalf of MySpace, the team obtained a dismissal of all claims on the grounds that they were barred by Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. The Court of Appeal unanimously affirmed the trial court’s dismissal, and the California Supreme Court denied plaintiffs’ petition for review.
- DIRECTV v. Lifetime Entertainment Services: Jenner & Block litigators represented DIRECTV in an action to uphold DIRECTV’s most favored nation rights in connection with DIRECTV’s carriage of television channels Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network.
- DIRECTV v. Paxson Communications: Represented by Jenner & Block litigators, DIRECTV successfully defended against a TRO/preliminary injunction seeking to prevent DIRECTV from taking down Paxson’s channel.
- EchoStar Satellite v. DIRECTV: Our litigators successfully represented DIRECTV in an action brought by EchoStar Satellite (owner of Dish Network). EchoStar had sued DIRECTV and GlobeStar (a distributor of Greek-language programming) after GlobeStar ceased licensing its programming to EchoStar, and began distributing its programming through DIRECTV. EchoStar claimed that GlobeStar breached its affiliate agreement with EchoStar and that DIRECTV tortiously interfered with EchoStar’s contractual relations. The court entered summary judgment in favor of DIRECTV, ordering EchoStar to pay DIRECTV’s costs.
- UMI v. Exigen: Jenner & Block represents Universal Music Investments in a substantial breach of contract action pending in Delaware state court against Exigen USA. Exigen contracted to develop a music royalty accounting software system for UMI, but failed to deliver a functional system. The complaint seeks damages in excess of $20 million. Cross-motions for summary judgment currently are pending.
- News Digital Media Pty v. Adicio: Our litigators successfully represented CareerOne and News Digital Media, operators of Australia’s most popular job search website, when their web hosting company breached its contract and threatened to disrupt the website’s multi-million dollar operation. Within weeks of our team filing for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in the Southern District of California, the defendant web hosting company ceased its breaching conduct and the matter was successfully resolved without any disruption for our clients.