12 October 2010

I Apologize

... for the delay, for the shortness, for the general malaise after another sleepless night.

  • Why might actors boycott The Hobbit? It's not about distrust of Peter Jackson — he's actually providing a better nonunion deal than called for by the union contract. It's not even about distrust of MGM and New Line, however merited that distrust might be... because eventually they do pay. No, it's about distrust of people like the thief and asshole Stanley Brooks, who declared bankruptcy rather than pay actors what was owed... years after the fact.

    What this reflects, more than anything else, is what unions are actually meant to do: To deal with abuses. The problems arise when — due to the strange way that labor law works, if nothing else — the unions cannot show favor to "good actors" (pun intended) and trade off particular clauses when, as in the case of The Hobbit, the production in question falls outside the parameters that were even considered when the union contract was created. Unfortunately, this is an increasing problem, as the existing union contracts were all conceived in Century City without any regard for things like documenting a nonunion play production for which one actor is a union member and is appearing under a waiver...

    In any event, Brooks's little ploy may well come around to bite him on the ass, as it's reasonably probable that compensation due employees as residuals will be treated as a priority claim by the employees that gets paid before the claims of any other unsecured creditors... and before the claims of some secured creditors, particularly if the security interest was not properly perfects (and, given that this is Hollywood, that's very probable indeed).

  • Remember that old aphorism "It's the thought that counts"? That also applies to intellectual property. The Supreme Court today granted certiorari (agreed to hear) a case that raises an important question on inducing patent infringement that will, no matter how it turns out, bleed its way into cases on inducing copyright infringement. Basically, it boils down to this, at least for the case directly in front of the Court: Does "inducement" require specific intent to cause a third party to induce, or can it be some lesser (but "unmistakeable") intent? Grokster seems to say the latter, but the evidentiary record in Grokster would also support the former, at least at the civil (more-probable-than-not) standard of proof.

    Or, of course, one could always look at intent to infringe from a broader point of view; the contrast between the Irish ruling denying "three strikes" treatment of ISPs by record labels provides an interesting contrast with these thoughtful musings on morality and intellectual property, both from this shark's only feline friend, the IPKat (writing under his natural name).