Stiletto Entertainment, an entity that exists to manage Barry Manilow’s affairs and owns the underlying intellectual property rights in Music and Passion Live From Las Vegas, has filed suit against Princess Cruises and Swank Motion Pictures in a potentially lucrative federal infringement suit. Music and Passion Live From Las Vegas is the recording of Manilow’s 100th concert and took place in Las Vegas in 2005 for a PBS special. The lawsuit here centers on the Princess Cruises conduct in “repeatedly broadcasting Music and Passion Live on the lido deck of its ships as a key component of its entertainment of its cruise customers;” which the complaint alleges was discovered by plaintiffs in 2014. The complaint further alleges that Swank Motion Pictures had marketed its product using Manilow’s name and likeness and sold the “rights” to broadcast Music and Passion Live to Princess Cruises, without “authority, permission or consent.” In total the complaint contains claims of copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition, and dilution and violation of right of publicity, which plaintiff claims have caused injury to Manilow’s recent concert ticket sales.
Plaintiff is seeking statutory damages of up to $150,000 for each instance of infringement, on top of punitive damages, restitution, attorneys fees, and additional fees which could be tripled under the Lanham Act. What this means for Princess is that providing concerts for their elderly cruise patrons just became an extremely expensive endeavor. Though one hail mary for the popular cruise line could be the involvement of maritime law, as there is precedent supporting the argument that maritime law could precludes the district court’s subject matter jurisdiction.
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Jennifer Marr is an Entertainment and Sports Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2018).