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Bill Grantham

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

Bill’s practice focuses on the representation of a wide range of clients in connection with the development, financing, production and exploitation of motion pictures, television programs and other forms of content. He has also worked as a management consultant advising major media interests, as a media executive, and as a journalist specializing in the international entertainment industry.

Practice Areas:

Film Financing Bill has represented producers, major and mini-major studios, distributors, sales agents, banks insurance companies and private equity funds and high net-worth individuals, as well as above-the-line talent (directors, writers and actors) in a wide range of deals for film and television projects with budgets ranging from “microbudget” to more than $200 million.

General Entertainment Bill has represented producers, directors, writers and actors in the full range of film and television work from development through exploitation, including the acquisition of literary properties, production legal work and distribution agreements.

Copyright Bill advises clients on all aspects of copyright protection, including complex chain of title analysis, acquisition and transfer of copyrights, registrations and recordations at the United States Copyright Office, and the international law of copyright.

Secured Transactions/Uniform Commercial Code Bill advises clients on all aspects of obtaining, perfecting and enforcing security in intellectual property collateral, including  under the United States Copyright Act and the Uniform Commercial Code. He has conducted multiple foreclosures of motion picture and other collateral.

International Transactions In addition to working with many clients from the USA on international deals, Bill has represented companies and individuals from Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Ireland, Morocco and the UK.

Arbitration Bill has represented entertainment industry parties in concluded International Film and Television Alliance (IFTA, formerly AFMA) and American Arbitration Association (AAA) arbitrations of motion-picture related disputes.

Representative Transactions

 

Education

University of Sunderland, UK, Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies: PhD

University of California, Berkeley, 1996: JD. Prosser Prize in the History of American Law. Moot Court Award. Moot Court Board. Member, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law. Member, High Technology Law Journal.

Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II): Visiting student, law faculty.

National Council for the Training of Journalists, UK: Certificate in Newspaper Journalism.

University of Oxford, UK: M.Phil in English Studies.

University of Liverpool, UK: B.A. in English Language and Literature (First Class Honors).

Professional Legal Career:

University of East Anglia, UK: visiting lecturer on film distribution

Southern Cross University Law School, Australia: visiting lecturer on entertainment law

Institute for Media and Creative Industries, Loughborough University, London: visiting professor of media law and policy

Greenberg Traurig, Santa Monica, California

Business Affairs Inc., Los Angeles, California

Griffith Law School, Griffith University, Brisbane Australia: visiting lecturer and affiliate of the Socio-Legal Research Centre

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Century, California

Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman, Beverly Hills, California

World Intellectual Property Organisation, Arbitration Center, Switzerland: consultant

Court of International Arbitration, International Chamber of Commerce; intern

Professional Non-Legal Career

Informed Sources, New York: management consultant

Midem Organisation, Paris France: editorial director

European Media Business and Finance: editorial director

Television Business International, London: founding editor

Variety, London correspondent and Paris Bureau chief

Admissions:

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

United States District Court for the Central District of California

United States District Court for the District of Arizona

United States District Court for the District of Minnesota

California, 1996

Professional and Civil Associations

Irish Film and Television Academy

British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Los Angeles

Published Decisions, Speaking Engagements and Selected Publications

Comedy III Prods., Inc. v. New Line Cinema, 200 F3d 593 (9th Cir. 2000) [upholding dismissal of unfair competition claim based on use of public domain material in motion picture].

American Dairy Queen Corp. v. New Line Prods., Inc., 35 F. Supp. 2d 727 (D. Minn. 1998) [granting injunction restraining use of registered trademark as title of motion picture].

November 2018    “The Business of Development: creative, business and legal steps needed to take an idea from pre-script to screen”, co-presenter at seminar organized by Screen Skills Ireland, Dublin.

June 2017    “The Tax Break Trap: Hollywood, Britain and the EU”, at Film Policies in Transition: Globalization, Digitization, Protectionism, symposium organized by Doshishu University, King’s College London and Royal Holloway University, London.

May 2017     Invited discussant at “Convergence or differentiation in IP protection strategies and business models? – The case of China”, Edinburgh Business School.

May 2017     Participant at “Insights into Cultural Industries: New Approaches through Business and Economic Perspectives”, 4th ECIPE-Korea Project International Workshop, Brussels.

June 2014:  “Filmonomics Talks,” panellist, Slated, West Hollywood.

December 2013     “Film Finance,” panellist, Beverly Hills Bar Association, Beverly Hills.

June 2013    “Recent Developments in US Entertainment Law,” panellist, British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), Los Angeles.

August 2012           “Updates in Entertainment Law in The UK and USA,” panellist, Producers’ Guild of America, Los Angeles.

August 2012:          Speaker at Producers Guild of America seminar “European Productions – Business Trends and Legal Best Practices”.

June 2012: Speaker at Beverly Hills Bar Association panel on European entertainment law, “The Other Side of the Pond”.

July 2011: Speaker at Beverly Hills Bar Association, “Everything You Wanted to Know About Entertainment Law But Were Afraid To Ask”.

July 2007: Speaker: “European identity, cultural hegemony and the Television Without Frontiers directive,” International Association for Communication and Media Research conference, UNESCO, Paris

2004  University of California, Los Angeles Extension: co-devised and co-taught “The Business of the Film Industry”, a full-quarter for-credit class on all aspects of motion picture development, financing, production and exploitation.

July 2004: Speaker, “Saint Thurgood”, Law and Literature Society of Australia conference, Brisbane and the University of Waikato Law School, New Zealand,

July 2004: Speaker, “Mandarins and self-appointed elites: the inevitability of republican delegation in democratic public service broadcasting services” University of Waikato, New Zealand.

2003: University of California, Los Angeles Extension: devised and taught “Law in the Movies”, a full-quarter for-credit class on the representation of lawyers and legal issues in motion pictures.

2002: University of California, Los Angeles Extension: devised and taught “Protecting and Defending Content: Legal Issues for the Entertainment Professional” 12-hour for credit class covering copyright, trademark, privacy and publicity and defamation issues in the motion picture and television industries.

April 2002: Panellist, “New Approaches to Film: fit enough to survive?” Future of Content conference, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, California.

1999:  Panellist, “International Television Co-Production”, Sedona Conference, Sedona, Arizona

1993: Guest lecturer on the international home video industry, Fémis (French national film school), Paris.

1988: Panel member of private seminar on plans for UK’s fifth TV channel, Consumers Association, London

“Sociology and the Political Economy of the Media” [provisional title] (with Toby Miller). In Media Sociology [provisional title], edited by Silvio Waisbord (forthcoming Polity Press 2013).

“American Trade Policy and the Maintenance of Hollywood’s Global Hegemony.” In Hollywood and the Law, edited by Paul McDonald, Emily Carmen, Philip Drake and Eric Hoyt (forthcoming BFI/Palgrave 2013).

“Escalating Risk and Legal Protections in Contemporary Film Production,” In Film and Risk, edited by Mette Hjort, Wayne State UP (forthcoming 2012)

“Europe’s highest court delivers blow to rights holders,” Daily Journal (Los Angeles), October 19, 2011.

“Cultural ‘patronage’ versus cultural ‘defence’: alternatives to national film policies.” In Law’s Moving Image, edited by Leslie J Moran, Emma Sandon, Elena Loizidou, and Ian Christie. London: Glasshouse Press, 2004: 187-92

“International law and TV Formats: perspective and synthesis.” In Audiovisual Works, TV Formats and Multiple Markets, edited by Michael Keane, Albert Moran, and Mark Ryan. Australian UNESCO Orbicom Working Papers in Communications. Brisbane: Griffith University, 2003:  42-51.

“Legislative Changes to the Copyright Laws of the United States,” International Media Law, 17, No. 1 (January 1999): 1.

“The Arbitrability of International Intellectual Property Disputes,” Berkeley Journal of International Law 14 (1996): 173-221, reprinted in Intellectual Property Law Review, edited by Karen B. Tripp. New York: Clark Boardman Callaghan/Thomson Legal Publishing, 1997 [as William Grantham].

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Important Appellate Win Against The Hollywood Reporter

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

In 2017, we filed a libel case in Chicago against Prometheus Global Media, publisher of The Hollywood Reporter, on behalf of a client called Nicole Basile. In a disgraceful example of reckless journalism, THR published an article which clearly implied that Nicole was responsible for the Sony hack-attack. This was false, but the article devastated Nicole’s career.
After we beat all 4 of Prometheus anti-SLAPP and jurisdictional motions in the trial court, Prometheus appealed. On JUne 30, 2020, the Illinois Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decisions, establishing some important issues. https://courts.illinois.gov/R23_Orders/AppellateCourt/2020/1stDistrict/1190602_R23.pdf
The case will now proceed to trial. The main facts are not in dispute – the disagreement is over whether the statements in the THR article are defamatory, and the appellate court found that they certainly are, e.g., ¶58: “the article clearly and unmistakably conveyed that plaintiff was the ex Sony-employee responsible for the cyber attack. Thus, the article is defamatory on its face.” It doesn’t come clearer than that.
Kudos to our co-counsel, Rod Smolla (author of Smolla on Defamation), for great work.

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Alexander Rufus-Isaacs To Receive the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s President’s Award for 2017

Friday, September 15th, 2017

RIAG partner Alexander Rufus-Isaacs will receive the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s annual President’s Award at the Installation and Awards Dinner on Tuesday September 26, 2017, at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. For more information, see https://www.bhba.org/index.php/component/content/article/350

 

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5th Annual AFM Party

Monday, December 7th, 2015

RIAG hosted its 5th annual AFM party at Chez Jay’s, the legendary Santa Monica bar, on November 8, but this year we had a co-host – our longstanding client and dear friends at  Bitmax LLC (www.bitmax.net). You can judge for yourself how it went from these photos.

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RIAG Files Defamation Lawsuit Against The Hollywood Reporter

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Together with co-counsel Ian Brenson and Rodney Smolla (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_A._Smolla), we filed a defamation lawsuit in federal court in Chicago against The Hollywood Reporter arising out of an article about the Sony cyberattack last December. See complaint:  https://pmcdeadline2.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/thr-sony-hack-defamation-lawsuit.pdf.  Our client, Nicole Basile, is a freelance payroll administrator who has been working on major film productions for the last several years. The Hollywood Reporter article singled out Nicole and falsely communicated, explicitly and by undisguised implication, that she was one of the hackers responsible for the cyberattack. Since the article came out, she has not been offered a single job commensurate with her experience. It has, in short, destroyed her career.

See http://deadline.com/2015/11/hollywood-reporter-lawsuit-sony-attack-defamation-prometheus-global-media-1201614685/ and http://variety.com/t/nicole-basile/

Download PDF of Complaint

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NEW DEFAMATION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Together with co-counsel Ian Brenson and Rodney Smolla (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_A._Smolla), we filed a defamation lawsuit on 11/6/15 in federal court in Chicago against The Hollywood Reporter arising out of an article about the Sony cyberattack last December. See complaint:  https://pmcdeadline2.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/thr-sony-hack-defamation-lawsuit.pdf.  Our client, Nicole Basile, is a freelance payroll administrator who has been working on major film productions for the last several years. The Hollywood Reporter article singled out Nicole and falsely communicated, explicitly and by undisguised implication, that she was one of the hackers responsible for the cyberattack. Since the article came out, she has not been offered a single job commensurate with her experience. It has, in short, destroyed her career.

See http://deadline.com/2015/11/hollywood-reporter-lawsuit-sony-attack-defamation-prometheus-global-media-1201614685/

http://variety.com/t/nicole-basile/

 

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Trademarks 101 at the Beverly Hills Bar Association with Speaker Paul D. Supnik

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Rufus-Isaacs, Acland & Grantham, LLP’s Paul D. Supnik will be the speaker at the August 6, 2015 Beverly Hills Bar Association luncheon program “Trademarks 101 – Selection and Protection Basics for the Business Attorney.”
 
Trademarks 101 (Paul Supnik)

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From Deadline.com: ‘The Blob’ Remake

Friday, March 20th, 2015

RIAG partner Bill Grantham’s client Richard Saperstein is producing the remake of ‘The Blob’ with Brian Witten. See report at Deadline.com: http://deadline.com/2015/01/simon-west-to-direct-the-blob-remake-efm-goldcrest-1201355327/

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PRACTICE AREA/LANGUAGE/ADMISSIONS

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Animation, New Media
Appeals
Arbitration, Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
Art – Public and Private, Policies, Maintenance, Artist Agreements, Publishing
Bankruptcy
Civil Rights Litigation
Conservatorships
Construction Contract Disputes
Copyright
Corporate Formations and Governance
Creditors’ Rights
Criminal Appeals
Criminal Defense – Juvenile
Criminal Defense – Misdemeanors & Felonies
D.C. (Admission)
DMV Administrative Hearings
Documentary
Domestic Violence/Restraining Orders
Employment Negotiations
England and Wales (Admission)
Estate Planning
Entertainment – Acquisition, Development, Distribution, Production
Film Finance
French (Language)
IFTA Arbitration
International and Comparative Copyright
International Film and TV Co-Production
Insurance
Litigation – Entertainment, Media, Insurance
Litigation – General Business
Litigation – General Tort
Litigation – Trademark and Copyright
Media – First Amendment, Privacy, Publicity, Defamation and Reputation Management
Medical Malpractice
Negligence/Malfeasance – Professional and Commercial
New York (Admission)
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Admission)
Oregon (Admission)
Personal Injury
Police Misconduct
Private International Law
Probate
Production Counsel
Product Liability – Commercial, Pharmacological
Real Estate – Lending, Financing, Leasing, Development
Secured Transactions – Non-Real Estate
Talent
Trademarks – Domestic, International, TTAB Proceedings
Trade Secrets
Trusts and Trust administration
TV – Scripted & Non Scripted
UCC Article 9 Foreclosure
Uniform Commercial Code
Washington (Admission)
Will Contests and Trust Litigation

 

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RIAG SPEAKER AT LONDON SEMINAR ON PUBLICITY RIGHTS

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

On May 10, 2014, London media law firm Harbottle & Lewis hosted the first meeting of the London chapter that featured a live panel discussion. The topic was a comparison of rights of publicity law in both jurisdictions. Harbottle’s John Kelly spoke about English law, and RIAG’S Alexander Rufus-Isaacs spoke about US law.

Shortly before the panel, the UK papers had reported an incident when a hairdresser in West London had placed a photograph of a disheveled-looking Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, in its window, with the legend: “Having a bad hair day? Pop in for a cut!” Not seeing the humor in this, 2 officials from the North Korean embassy visited the hairdresser and told him to take down the photograph. He sent them packing using a colorful version of “This is England, mate, not North Korea.” This proved to be a good illustration of the differences in the 2 legal systems. Had this occurred in California, a court would probably find that the Dear Leader’s likeness had been knowingly used for commercial purposes without his permission, and if he could make a decent showing of damages, he would probably prevail under common law misappropriation of likeness and Civ. Code §3344, and recover damages and attorney’s fees. However under English law, he has no rights to this own image and could only win if he could establish “passing off,” a common law tort based on consumer confusion, similar to the Lanham Act, which in all likelihood he would be unable to do.

Many other topics were discussed, including the recent European ruling against Google on Max Mosely’s action seeking the “right to be forgotten,” the post mortem right of publicity statute in California (no equivalent in England), First Amendment defenses in the USA vs the “newsworthiness” test in England, and identifiability. This was followed by a spirited question and answer session with the audience consisting of around 30 media lawyers, mostly from the UK, but some from the USA, Europe and Australia. The evening finished with an enthusiastic assault on Harbottle’s venerated wine cellar.

Alexander Rufus-Isaacs

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