Most of us know what it’s like to receive a notice that one of our subscriptions has been automatically renewed for another year. As the regulatory landscape of subscription-based offers continues to evolve, federal and state regulators and private plaintiffs have ramped up actions and challenges against companies that sell products and services on an automatically renewing basis. Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed new legislation to protect California consumers. Among them are long-anticipated updates to California’s Automatic Renewal Law (ARL) that impose new notice requirements on automatic renewal and continuous service offers with free or introductory trial periods and offers with an initial term of one year or longer, as well as stronger provisions allowing consumers to cancel services more easily and quickly. As companies quickly embrace the rise of digital technologies when offering entertainment and personal services, they should familiarize themselves with California’s ARL, as it applies to all businesses that make automatic renewal offers and continuous services offers to California consumers.

Continue Reading Looking Ahead: Significant Changes in California Law for Subscription Merchants Coming in July 2022

Many celebrities balance maintaining their brand by staying in the public eye with privacy in their personal life. A new California law, however, has some business managers and celebrities concerned about maintaining their privacy. With little fanfare, Governor Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 592 (the Bill) on September 28, 2020, which may raise eyebrows this year as business managers and taxpayers navigate the 2020 tax reporting season. Specifically, the Bill requires the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) to revise the California resident income tax return form to include a line item for the taxpayer’s address of their principal residence and their county of principal residence. In the past, high-profile taxpayers often used their business manager’s address when filing tax returns, to maintain privacy and security. The Bill, however, takes effect this year, so that California residents must now disclose the address of their principal residence on their 2020 California income tax returns.

Continue Reading New Disclosure Law for California Taxpayers: A Huge Breach of Privacy? Probably Not.

Venable partner William Briggs was recently nominated by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve on the city’s Board of Police Commissioners. In this Q & A, Briggs discusses his journey from public high school to a prestigious law school, the legal accomplishments he’s most proud of, including his previous advocacy on behalf of disadvantaged children, and what he hopes to accomplish in his new role.

You were raised in a single-parent household in Los Angeles, where you attended a public high school. How did you get from there to one of the country’s top law schools?

I was lucky to have had some very good role models and teachers. One of whom was a biology teacher who I guess recognized that I had some potential and then helped me at an early age to get a job in a laboratory at UCLA. While there I worked for a doctor of Armenian descent who not only exposed me to a completely different culture, but also to a different way of thinking. Basically, he taught me that you don’t have to let the circumstances of your life inhibit your ambition. Like-minded friends of my mother told me the same thing, and my aunt, Dr. Dorothy Height, a civil rights activist, also strongly encouraged me to pursue an education. She had a connection with Bethune-Cookman College, a historically black college in Florida, so that’s where I ended up going.


Continue Reading Entertainment Attorney William Briggs Discusses his Journey to a Successful Legal Career

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on commercial real property markets in much of the country, an ever-increasing demand for streaming content has caused existing studio space in Los Angeles and elsewhere to become even more valuable, and the demand for studio space continues to rise. In this Q & A, Venable partner Andrew Schmerzler discusses some of the long-term trends that have contributed to this increased demand, tech companies making a commitment to Los Angeles (leading to the rise of “Silicon Beach”), and how the pandemic is accelerating these trends.

Continue Reading The Rise in Demand for Studio Space in Los Angeles – Q & A with Andrew Schmerzler

On November 17, 2020,  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated William Briggs to serve on the city’s Board of Police Commissioners.

“Our city is leading the movement to reimagine public safety, revitalize our commitment to racial justice and support our courageous police officers who keep our city safe. And I’m confident that William Briggs will bring an extraordinary record of leadership and commitment to the fight for fairness, equity, and a safer Los Angeles,” said Mayor Garcetti.

Mr. Briggs is a leading trial lawyer and civil litigator with extensive experience providing counsel to some of the most recognizable names in the film, television, music, and sports industries. He has received numerous accolades for his work in the entertainment industry, including being named a Most Influential Minority Attorney and Top Litigator & Trial Lawyer by the Los Angeles Business Journal. He was also recognized by The Hollywood Reporter as a Power Lawyer and by Billboard as a Top Music Lawyer.
Continue Reading Venable Entertainment Attorney William Briggs Nominated to Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners

On July 27, Melissane Velyvis successfully argued that a Domestic Violence Protective Order (the Order) was an unconstitutional prior restraint on her freedom of expression. Marin County Superior Court Judge Roy O. Chernus sustained Velyvis’ demurrer to a misdemeanor complaint brought against her for violating the Order in People v. Velyvis, Case No. CR211376A.

The Order prohibited Ms. Velyvis from posting anything on social media, blogs, or the internet regarding her ex-husband, Dr. John Velyvis, or his children. Dr. Velyvis applied for an order to curb posts on Ms. Velyvis’ blog, The Voice of Melissane Velyvis, which detailed the domestic abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of Dr. Velyvis, and other events leading up to and resulting from the couple’s divorce. The blog describes Ms. Velyvis as a “survivor of non-fatal strangulation.”


Continue Reading Blogger’s Descriptions of Domestic Violence Protected by Freedom of Expression

This summer, the United States Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In a 6-3 opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch found that “homosexuality and transgender status are inextricably bound up with sex,” and as a result, “it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.” Bostock v. Clayton Cnty., Ga., 590 U.S. __ (2020).

While this landmark decision ensures that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected categories under federal law, many individual states and localities provide varying degrees of protection for LGBTQ+ workers. For employers in the entertainment industry, it is important to be aware of these state and local laws when structuring and implementing employment policies, as those laws can significantly impact prospective liability.


Continue Reading Following a Landmark Decision for LGBTQ+ Workers, State and Local Laws Impacting the Entertainment Industry Are Still Vastly Different

The California Court of Appeal (the Court) has affirmed a trial court’s grant of preliminary injunction, enjoining HomeAdvisor’s use of allegedly misleading language in advertisements.  See People ex rel. Gascon v. HomeAdvisor, Inc., No. A154960 (Cal. Ct. App. June 5, 2020).

The lawsuit was brought by the People of the State of California (the People), acting by and through the San Francisco District Attorney.  Specifically, the People claimed that HomeAdvisor’s advertisements were “false and misleading because they are likely to deceive consumers into believing that all service professionals hired through HomeAdvisor who come into their homes have passed criminal background checks.  That is not the case.  The only person who undergoes a background check is the owner/principal of an independently-owned business.”  Id. at *1.
Continue Reading Court of Appeal Affirms: No First Amendment Protection for Misleading Commercial Speech

Among the countless casualties of COVID-19, many much-anticipated events had to be canceled. Instead, some of the world’s largest entertainment industry events are becoming virtual experiences.

Comic Con, which boasts over 135,000 annual attendees, announced that its in-person convention will be replaced in 2020 by a virtual experience. Lollapalooza, an annual music festival in Chicago, will also be virtual this summer. Even the venerable Cannes Film Festival has moved online.

These virtual formats pose new legal challenges, however, including cybersecurity threats, consumer privacy policies, and music licensing.
Continue Reading Virtual Events Raise Real World Legal Issues