Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Governor Appoints Collins & Lacy Attorney Kristian Cross to S.C. Board of Accountancy

Attorney Kristian Cross
Congratulations to Collins & Lacy attorney and retail/hospitality practice group member Kristian Cross, who was appointed by the governor to the South Carolina Board of Accountancy.


Kristian actually has nothing to do with the world of accounting, which is precisely why she was chosen for this position (aside from the fact that she is an asset to any team) -- the Board is comprised of seven accountants and two members of the public with no connection to the profession, one of whom is Kristian. We look forward to her involvement on the Board, and commend this honorable appointment.

Read more about Collins & Lacy attorney Kristian Cross and the S.C. Board of Accountancy.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Televised European Sports – Bar Owners v. Broadcasters

Post by Charles Appleby
The right combination of beer, wings and sports has proved successful for hundreds of thousands of pub and bar owners in the United States.  Whether it is football, baseball, or European soccer, owners work to provide the sports their patrons want to watch. 

Owners typically pay high prices to receive broadcasts of overseas sporting events.  However, Eugene Rooney, part owner of Old Castle Restaurant and Pub in Manhattan was able to the lower the cost for his bar and ultimately his patrons by using online technology and old fashion ingenuity.  Unfortunately, Premium Sports Inc., a San Francisco-based company offering broadcast packages which include overseas matches in sports like soccer, rugby and Gaelic football did not like Mr. Rooney’s method and filed suit.  A recent decision of the Southern District of New York in the case could be the start of an ongoing battle between broadcast providers and restaurant/bar owners.  Premium Sports Inc. v. Connell, et. al., No. 10 Civ. 3753 (KBF) (S.D.N.Y. March 1, 2012). 

Facts
On February 13, 2010, Old Castle showed the Scotland/Wales soccer game in the pub.  While Premium Sports was the exclusive licensee for that programming in the United States, Old Castle did not pay for and obtain it from Premium Sports.  Instead, Old Castle obtained the programming via a friend of Mr. Rooney, Michael Caulfield, who was living in Ireland. 

A company called “RTE” broadcast the match free in Dublin, where Caulfield received it on his television.  Caulfield then, in turn, sent it on to Rooney, who showed the match at his pub, Old Castle.  According to The New York Times, Rooney setup Caulfield in Dublin and his bars in New York with $3,000 in equipment to stream television signals online.[1]

Since Old Castle played the match without paying Premium Sports for it, Premium Sport claimed Old Castle violated section 605(a) of the Federal Communication Act (FCA).  In terms of programming, the statute is intended to prevent the interception – i.e., piracy - of satellite transmissions.  See J&J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Pimentel, Sabor del Caribe, Inc., No. 09 Civ. 1501, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119085, at *11 (M.D.Fla. Dec. 4, 2009).  Section 553 of the FCA provides similar protections with regard to cable transmissions. 

To establish liability under this section of the FCA, there must be an “interception” of a signal or transmission and case law states “intercept” or “interception” means to stop, seize or interrupt prior to arrival; or taking or seizing before arrival at the destined place.  See, e.g., Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967); Cablevision of Michigan, Inc. v. Sports Palace, No. 93-1737, 1994 U.S.App. LEXIS 13914, at *13, 1994 WL 245584 (6th Cir. June 6, 1994).  However, in this case, the Southern District of New York found Premium Sports did not propound any evidence that Mr. Rooney’s friend in Ireland “intercepted” a satellite communication.  By the time the game appeared on the televisions at Old Castle, which was at least two to three minutes behind the live broadcast, there is no indication the transmission was via the original satellite signal. 

Therefore, the Federal Court, found in favor of Old Castle and its owners because the version of the match playing at Old Castle was technically a rebroadcast and not an illegally intercepted signal.

While the owners at Old Castle won their case regarding Premium Sports’ alleged violation of the FCA, they could potentially face other claims for allegedly unauthorized use of an exclusively licensed game.  For example, if Premium Sports had made the requisite filings at the copyright office, Premium Sports might have had an infringement claim.

As the interest for international sports grows larger and technology gets better, bars and pubs like Old Castle will continue to display this type of ingenuity.  License holders should remain vigilant to protect their rights, and presenters of copyrighted materials — such as bars, clubs, and restaurants — should familiarize themselves with the laws governing broadcast of such productions and observe them in order to keep from running afoul of the law and potentially exposing themselves to the time and money of costly litigation.  While Rooney and Old Castle were victorious, he never imagined it would cost them $25,000 in legal fees.[2]

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Christian Stegmaier Selected as Only S.C. Member of International Amusement & Leisure Defense Association

I am honored and pleased to announce my membership to the International Amusement and Leisure Defense Association. This opportunity came my way through my colleague and friend Joe Hassinger of New Orleans business defense law firm, Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith. Joe is the immediate past president of IALDA. The organization protects the interests of many of my clients int the amusement and leisure field, including festivals, concert organizers, theme parks and other entertainment-related businesses. You can read more about it in the following news release from our Collins & Lacy webpage.

Collins & Lacy, P.C. Attorney Selected to Join International Amusement and Leisure Defense Association

July 2, 2012
 

[COLUMBIA, S.C., July 2, 2012] - Collins & Lacy, P.C. retail/hospitality law attorney Christian Stegmaier has been selected to join the International Amusement and Leisure Defense Association (IALDA) by its membership board. Christian is the only member selected from South Carolina.

The International Amusement & Leisure Defense Association, Inc. is a non-profit association of lawyers and other professionals who are actively engaged in representing the interests of the amusement and leisure industries, as well as those involved in bowling, roller skating, and other forms of entertainment.  IALDA is not a trade association or a bar association, and membership must be approved by the Membership Committee. 

“I am excited to share with others what I have learned about the practice of entertainment law through defending fairs, concert promoters and presenters and theme parks, and I look forward to collaborating with other hospitality and entertainment defense advocates across the globe,” said Christian Stegmaier, who is chair of the Collins & Lacy Retail/Hospitality/Entertainment Law Practice Group.

The mission of IALDA is to promote and protect the legal interests of the amusement and leisure industry through development of common litigation strategies and educational events for the industry and its insurers. Christian Stegmaier has published several related articles and presented to multiple trade groups on issues facing the hospitality/entertainment industry, including regulations required by the American with Disabilities Act, third-party assaults, premises liability and other emergent matters.

“Christian’s wealth of knowledge and experience in this growing area of law pairs well with the goals of IALDA, and we welcome him to the association,” said IALDA immediate past president and entertainment law attorney Joe Hassinger. Joe is director of Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith (GJTBS) Law Firm in New Orleans, Louisiana.

About Collins & Lacy, P.C.
In 2012, Collins & Lacy, P.C. celebrates 28 years of providing legal services to South Carolina.  With offices in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the firm’s primary focus is defense litigation, representing local, regional and national clients in the areas of:
Collins & Lacy is committed to upholding the highest standards for integrity, civility and community service. For more information, visit www.collinsandlacy.com