Hello everyone, welcome to another riveting edition of everyone’s favorite segment: the Rodeo Read. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind—wilder than the Wild West itself for the legal community. From sneakers to streaming services, there’s plenty of sports and entertainment law-related news to get through, so let’s jump right in.
Nike Pulls the Plug on Travis Scott
It looks like the fallout is continuing for embattled rapper Travis Scott after the tragedy that occurred at Astroworld in November. Outside of the massive lawsuits (which by the way, is now a single lawsuit with over 1250 people) it looks like more and more advertisers and retailers are distancing themselves from Scott. The latest brand to publicly separate itself from Scott hurts sneakerheads (and “hypebeasts”) the most.
In an unsurprising move, Nike has pulled two pairs of Travis Scott-designed sneakers from hitting the market. Many people on social media called for the brand to drop their affiliation with the rapper. The sneakers, an interesting iteration of Nike’s Air Max 1, featured the iconic “backwards swoosh” and Cactus Jack (Scott’s record label) branding. In a statement published on the brand’s SNKR’s app, Nike decided that “[o]ut of respect for everyone impacted by the tragic events at the Astroworld Festival, we are postponing the launch of the Air Max 1 x Cactus Jack.” The sneakers were set to release on December 16. Although the move probably doesn’t hurt the company’s profitability, it still hurts both parties.
The Swoosh and Scott have collaborated over the past few years to produce special, limited-edition sneakers, which have been met with wild popularity. The shoes are generally listed for a retail price around $200, but often hit the secondary market and resell for over a thousand dollars—talk about ouch.
Quentin Tarantino v. Miramax
Everyone wants a piece of the non-fungible token pie—so much so that sports apparel retailer, Fanatics is offering an NFT for every purchase of $100 or more. The NFT-hype doesn’t just end there. Movie director Quentin Tarantino announced that he was planning to release seven NFTs related to the cult-classic “Pulp Fiction,” a movie he wrote and directed. The NFTs will feature excerpts from Tarantino’s original hand-written script and provide more information about how the movie was made. The NFTs were set to be auctioned off on the OpenSea NFT marketplace. Something to note is that the NFTs have been labeled as “secret” which means they are only visible to the owner—it’s not just a picture that can be viewed countless times.
Tarantino’s plans, however, have been put on hold as film producer and studio, Miramax is suing him to prevent the NFTs from being minted. Miramax is the studio responsible for producing the film. While Tarantino plans to discuss the making of the film, Miramax contends that “Mr. Tarantino did not consult the production company, and said it had certain ‘broad rights’ to ‘Pulp Fiction’ because the director had ‘granted and assigned nearly all of his rights’ to Miramax in 1993.” This would prevent the director from disclosing any behind-the-scenes information about the film. The suit further alleges that consumers could be confused and end up believing that Miramax is associated with the sale of the NFTs and hinder the company’s plans to sell NFTs related to its films.
In response, Tarantino’s lawyer stated that “Miramax is wrong—plain and simple . . .Tarantino’s contract is clear: he has the right to sell NFTs of his hand-written script for Pulp Fiction and this ham-fisted attempt to prevent him from doing so will fail. But Miramax’s callous decision to disclose confidential information about its filmmakers’ contracts and compensation will irreparably tarnish its reputation long after this case is dismissed.” You may be thinking to yourself “wow, this sounds like an inflammatory statement” and you are correct. Things have been a bit chippy; Miramax’s attorney called the NFTs a “short-term money grab.” It will be interesting to see how this one turns out.
A few major Hollywood studios have teamed up with streaming giant Netflix to file a copyright infringement lawsuit against pirate streaming site, PrimeWire. Apparently, PrimeWire is one of the largest and oldest movie-pirating sites in the world. Its domains have been banned by a court order in several countries in the European Union and in the UK.
The lawsuit launched by Netflix and the movie studios names ten unnamed John Doe defendants working together to operate PrimeWire and its domains, which collectively has the capability to illegally stream thousands of shows and movies. According to the suit, the sites get over 20,000,000 monthly visits in the US alone, and that number is “growing.”
The plaintiffs bring a couple of claims, including illegal and unfair competition and copyright infringement. The plaintiffs are also aiming to prove that the unnamed defendants are acting willfully. The proof? The fact that the site’s moderators’ identities are hidden and that they have used fake information to create their profiles.
Plaintiffs are seeking $150,000 in damages for each infringed work (there’s a lot) in addition to attorney’s costs and fees. On top of this, they are also seeking to have the court issue an injunction to disable the sites in the US and to prevent any defendant from hosting or linking to any copyrighted material.
Netflix Gets Sued
Netflix’s legal department must be swamped as they are in the early stages of yet another lawsuit. This time, however, the company finds itself on the other side of the suit, as Carole Baskin (yes, THAT Carole Baskin) is suing the streaming service for using footage of her in Tiger King 2, the sequel to the documentary about Joe Exotic and the “zoos” he used to run. Baskin claims that the production company, Royal Goode Productions, breached its production contract by using footage of her for the second documentary. The lawsuit states that the production company did not have sequel rights, nor did it have the ability to use her image for any future episodes. It seems like a fairly simple contract dispute—but as these things go, they’re never quite as simple as they seem.
Baskin has not been shy about her feelings toward the docuseries, calling it a “reality show dumpster fire.” Regardless of how you feel about Baskin, she is right on that point.
Photo via: Mirimax Films/Courtesy Everett Collection (rollingstone.com)
3L & Editor-in-Chief of the Buffalo Environmental Law Journal. Sad fan of the Philadelphia sports teams and Tottenham Hotspur. I enjoy writing and learning about the intersection of sports and business law, with a focus on the NHL. H2P!