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Mahavishnu Bassist Sues for Film
Highest Court E.D. Michigan
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Former Band Member(s)
Defendants Eagle Rock Entertainment
Other Mahavishnu Orchestra
Short Description Ralphe Armstrong is a professional bassist with an impressive career, having performed alongside Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Carlos Santana, Curtis Mayfield, Herbie Hancock, Sting, and The Temptations, among others. Relevant to this suit, he was the bassist of John McLaughlin's jazz fusion group, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and performed with the band at Montreaux in 1974, when he was merely seventeen years old. Defendant released a series of live performances from the Montreaux festivals over the years, including a two-disc DVD of the Orchestra, including the set from 1974, which included Plaintiff's image on the back cover. Plaintiff sued for various related causes, including unfair competition, false designation of origin, rights of publicity and privacy, and unjust enrichment, arising from his appearance on the performance and packaging without permission. Regarding his privacy/publicity claims, the court held the First Amendment barred his action for the photo within the design, and held the claims regarding his videotaped performance were preempted by the Copyright Act. If Plaintiff believes he is owed copyright royalties, his action should be brought against the copyright holder, which granted Defendants permission. Further, as would be expected, his Lanham Act unfair competition/false advertising claims were barred by the First Amendment and the Copyright Act, which exclusively controls the rights to copyrightable creations fixed in tangible form. Plaintiff's complaint was disposed in its entirety on Defendants' summary judgment, and reconsideration was dened. (See Ralphe's earlier suit in "Mahavishnu Bassist Sues for Sample.") - LSW

Legal Issues
Constitutional Law First Amendment Media Protection & Public Interest
General Affirmative Defenses Federal Preemption
  Equitable Actions Unjust Enrichment
Torts Privacy Torts Commercial Misappropriation of Name/Likeness
Trademarks & Unfair Competition Federal (Lanham Act) Unfair Competition, False Advertising & Related Torts
  State Statute/Common Law Right of Publicity


Opinions Armstrong v. Eagle Rock Entertainment, Inc.
655 F.Supp.2d 779
E.D. Michigan , September 10, 2009 ( No. 09-CV-11704 )


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Related Searches Parties
Eagle Rock Entertainment ( Defendant )
Former Band Member(s) ( Plaintiff )
Mahavishnu Orchestra ( Other )

Legal Issues
Constitutional Law / First Amendment / Media Protection & Public Interest
General / Affirmative Defenses / Federal Preemption
General / Equitable Actions / Unjust Enrichment
Torts / Privacy Torts / Commercial Misappropriation of Name/Likeness
Trademarks & Unfair Competition / Federal (Lanham Act) / Unfair Competition, False Advertising & Related Torts
Trademarks & Unfair Competition / State Statute/Common Law / Right of Publicity

Courts
E.D. Michigan (highest court)


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