Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Entertainment & Sports Law
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Debtor, a managing member of Twister's Iron Horse Saloon, appealed the bankruptcy court's order determining that a debt arising from a civil judgment in favor of appellees for copyright infringement was excepted from discharge under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(6). Some of the music played or performed at Twister's was in the repertoire of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). Appellees granted ASCAP a nonexclusive right to license public performance rights of their works. Twister's did not hold a public performance license. In this case, the court agreed with the bankruptcy court that debtor had willfully failed to obtain an ASCAP license and maliciously disregarded the rights of ASCAP's members and Federal copyright law. Therefore, the debt was excepted from discharge and the court affirmed the judgment.View "Sailor Music, et al. v. Walker" on Justia Law

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In 1993, a class of plaintiffs represented by Reggie White settled a lawsuit with the NFL by signing an extensive collective bargaining agreement (the SSA), that governed labor relations between the NFL and its players. In 2011, the Association filed suit against the NFL, asserting that the NFL had violated the SSA in 2010 by instituting a secret cap on player salaries. The suit was settled and the Association now seeks to set aside the Stipulation of Dismissal and reopen its breach-of-SSA claim. Because the White class never asserted any of the claims settled in the dismissal, because these claims did not arise from a bargained-for class settlement, because the parties themselves have never treated the SSA like a class settlement, and because only a handful of the White class members were affected by the dismissal, the court concluded that the failure of the district court and the litigants to abide by the class settlement procedures of Rule 23(e) did not invalidate the dismissal. The court agreed with its sister circuits that have held that a stipulated dismissal constitutes a "judgment" under Rule 60(b). Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's Rule 23 ruling, reversed the district court's Rule 60 ruling, and remanded for further proceedings. View "White, et al. v. National Football League, et al." on Justia Law

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This case concerned the 2011 NFL lockout. Active NFL players filed a class action suit (Brady suit) against the NFL, alleging violations of the federal antitrust laws and other claims. Retired NFL players also filed suit against the NFL and its teams, alleging antitrust violations (Eller I suit). After both actions were consolidated, the Brady suit was settled, the players re-designated the NFLPA as their collective bargaining agent, the NFL and NFLPA signed a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) incorporating the settlement terms, the Brady plaintiffs dismissed their action, the lockout ended, and the 2011 NFL season commenced. Carl Eller and other retired NFL players (plaintiffs) then filed this class action (Eller II) against the NFLPA and others. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss and plaintiffs appealed, alleging claims for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage under Minnesota law. The court concluded that no reasonable jury could find that plaintiffs had a reasonable expectation of a prospective separate contractual relation with the NFL that would provide more than the increased benefits provided in the 2011 CBA. Even if plaintiffs alleged a reasonable expectation of prospective contractual relations or economic advantage with the NFL, plaintiffs failed to allege facts proving that defendants improperly or wrongfully interfered with these advantageous prospects. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Eller, et al. v. NFL Players Assoc., et al." on Justia Law

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Retro Television Network appealed the district court's dismissal of its claims against appellees, Luken and Retro Television, under Rule 12(b)(6). In 2005, Equity entered into an intellectual property agreement (IPA) with Retro Television Network. Retro Television Network subsequently sued appellees seeking royalty payments and an accounting under the IPA. Because Retro Television Network failed to allege any facts that would make Luken liable for Equity's obligations under the IPA, the district court properly dismissed its claims against Luken. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorneys' fees. View "Retro Television Network, Inc. v. Luken Communications LLC, et al" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from an action filed by nine professional football players and one prospective football player (Players) against the National Football League and its 32 separately-owned clubs (NFL or League). On March 11, 2011, a collective bargaining agreement between the League and a union representing professional football players expired and the League made known that if a new agreement was not reached before the expiration date, then it would implement a lockout of players, during which athletes would not be paid or permitted to use club facilities. The Players, aware of the League's strategy, opted to terminate the union's status as their collective bargaining agent as of 4:00 p.m. on March 11, just before the agreement expired. Later that day, the Players filed an action in the district court alleging that the lockout planned by the League would constitute a group boycott and price-fixing agreement that would violate Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, and alleging other violations of the antitrust laws and state common law. The League proceeded with its planned lockout on March 12, 2011 and the Players moved for a preliminary injunction in the district court, urging the court to enjoin the lockout as an unlawful group boycott that was causing irreparable harm to the Players. The district court granted a preliminary injunction and the League appealed. The court held that the injunction did not conform to provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act (Act), 29 U.S.C. 101 et seq., where Section 4(a) of the Act deprived a federal court of power to issue an injunction prohibiting a party to a labor dispute from implementing a lockout of its employees. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's order and declined to reach the other points raised by the League on appeal.

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Appellants (AVELA) appealed a permanent injunction prohibiting them from licensing certain images extracted from publicity materials for the films "Gone with the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz," as well as several animated short films featuring the cat-mouse duo "Tom & Jerry." At issue was whether the district court properly issued the permanent injunction after granting summary judgment in favor of appellee (Warner Bros.) on their claim that the extracted images infringed copyrights for the films. The court affirmed in large part the district court's grant of summary judgment to Warner Bros. on the issue of copyright infringement and the resulting permanent injunction. The court reversed with respect to one category of AVELA products, and vacated in corresponding part the permanent injunction entered by the district court. The court remanded for modification of the permanent injunction and further proceedings with the opinion.