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Archive for the ‘Entertainment Law’ Category

Hey That’s My Band Name!

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

This post comes at the request of Brian over at Punk on Deck, a fun blog about punk rock and baseball.  Do check it out, particularly if you’re a Cardinals fan.  Brian suggested a post about claiming band names, and who has priority if there is a claim by another band that you’re using their name.  Great suggestion, you’ve probably read about this happening to bands and wondered why this happens.  It’s happened to bands like Blink 182 and The Academy Is….  To start, this is an issue of trademark law.  I’ve heard people talk about bands having to change their names because of copyright law, and that’s not the case.  I want you to know what you’re talking about, in part because I want to educate you, and in part because it’s a pet peeve of mine.  Generally, a trademark refers to marks protected in association with goods, and service marks refer to those marks for services.  Trademark law protects word marks, logos, some slogans, even certain scents and colors.

Trademark protection exists on 3 levels: common law, state, and federal protection.  The strongest level is federal registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which gives the trademark owner the right to enforce that mark in every state in the U.S.  To register for federal trademark protection, you have to register for each class of goods or services you will be using the mark.  So for example, for a band, you could register for “providing live musical services,” “clothing, including t-shirts, baseball caps, and sweatshirts,”  and “recorded music on CDs, records” you get the idea.  Federal registration can get expensive as you get into multiple classes of goods and services.  State registration protects, as you would imagine, only in the state or states in which you register.  The benefit of state trademark registration is that it gives you proof to use in court that you have been using the mark since a certain time. However, with the Internet, I’m not sure how well state trademark protection will protect a band name, since the Internet can be accessed worldwide.  You can still enforce a trademark like a band name without registering it for either federal or state protection under the common law, the challenge that often arises is proving the date of first use in commerce.

Why does first use in commerce matter?  Well let’s take a band, perhaps they’re like your band.  After hours of debating potential names, perhaps fighting with your bandmates in the process, agonizing over the perfect name, you settled on what you think is a great name.  So you start touring, selling your music online or in physical product, and start getting a following.  Then, just as you start getting successful, you get a letter in the mail from another band with the same name threatening to sue you if you don’t stop using the name.  This is where first use in commerce and being able to prove it comes into play.  The standard for who has priority to use a mark is who was either the first to use the mark in commerce or the first to file an intent to use application for the mark with the USPTO.  Hopefully you and your bandmates have been keeping flyers, CDs, or other items along the way since you started using the name that would prove when you first used the name in commerce.  Or you registered the mark yourselves online, or perhaps you have consulted an attorney knowledgeable in this area of the law to help you register your name for federal registration.    If you indeed were using the mark first and can prove it, you would be able to fight off the other band and keep on truckin’ under that name as the Dead would say.

But what if you are what is known as the junior user, and weren’t using the name first?  Ideally before starting to use a name, you would have hopefully run a Google search for the name, perhaps set up an alert to see if anyone else is using it, and perhaps consulted an attorney to run a full search.  But even having done all of the above, you could still end up with another band firing off a cease and desist letter to your band demanding that you stop using the name.  If either you weren’t the first user of the name, or you just don’t want to spend the time, money and hassle of fighting to protect the name or paying to license it from another band, it may just be easier to change your name.

The decision of what steps to take as a band vary from group to group.  I’ll discuss band partnership agreements, entity selection and other measures you can take in future posts.  If you visit the USPTO site and perform a basic search of some of your favorite bands, you can see that some bands have chosen to register their band names for federal protection and others who haven’t.  While federal registration gives you the strongest level of protection, it doesn’t automatically do so.  Enforcing a trademark means monitoring for other uses of your mark, and having your attorney send cease and desist letters to those other users in your class of goods or services ordering them to stop using the name.  Some bands just don’t want the hassle and expense of doing so.

So what’s the best course of action in choosing a band name and trying to protect it in the future?  Here are some tips:

  • Run a search engine search for the name, set up an alert like Google alerts to see if any other bands using the name come up
  • Also check sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, as well as domain name registration sites to see if any bands are using the name
  • Run a basic search on the USPTO site to see if the name is registered
  • Consult with an attorney knowledgeable in trademark law to run a search on the name and possibly register it for federal protection
  • If you opt not to register for federal trademark protection, document, document, document the use of the name by your band with corresponding dates so you can prove
  • Address who owns the band name as part of your band partnership agreement or other internal agreement (this can save you a lot of headache later)

Well Brian I hope that answered some of your questions.  If any of you out there have suggestions for topics you would like covered here, please don’t hesitate to send them my way.

So You Want to Be A Rock Band Network Star?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Yesterday I had the opportunity to tour the film department at the University of Central Florida and meet some of the faculty.  I enjoyed seeing some of the new technology the students are using, it’s amazing how small the cameras and sound recording devices are getting.  I didn’t get a chance to get over to their downtown facility, hopefully the next time I’m up there I will get to check out the sound stage and motion capture facility.  After all of the writing and speaking I have been doing about music video games and avatars, I would totally be up for trying out one of those motion capture suits just to see what it’s like.  I know, I’m a nerd, it happens.

Speaking of music video games, this week has brought the release of the set list for Rock Band 3, as well as the announcement of Rock Band Network 2.0.  Harmonix and MTV Games have made some improvements to the Rock Band Network experience, you can read more about the changes here. From the time table released, it looks like new software for submitting tracks to RBN2 will be available starting in October, with song submissions starting early next year and tracks becoming available in the first quarter of 2011.  I know there was quite a bit of excitement about the initial launch of Rock Band Network, I imagine there will be more of the same as the release of Rock Band 3 and the launch of RBN2 get closer, as well as questions as to how to get in on the action.  So if you’re an act interested in getting your tracks on Rock Band Network, what do you need to do?

First of all, you need to check on the status of the copyrights to your track.  A song has two copyrights: one in the underlying composition and one in the sound recording.  In order to submit content to Rock Band Network, you need to either own the rights to both the composition and sound recording, or get permission from the label or publisher who has the rights.  Also, Rock Band Network does not accept covers, or songs with samples, so stay with original tracks.  Keeping tracks clean is a good idea too.

Next, you need to decide if you want to try authoring the tracks yourself or have an authoring company do it for you.  If you’re good with recording technology, it might be simpler to try authoring it yourself.  But be warned, it can be time consuming- the estimated time to author one track for RBN is 40 man hours.  You will need the Reaper and Magma software, as well as an XBox 360, a Gold Level XBox Live Membership, and a Creators Club membership to complete the process.  For more details read up on what’s involved here.  Harmonix is also putting on a series of Rock Band Network authoring training sessions and networking events around the country, check it out here.  If you want to go the authoring company route, shop around.  There are differences in pricing and deals, TuneCore initially was charging $999 to author a song for submission to RBN, though they are now charging $2,500 for authoring a song.  Other companies like RockGamer Studios charge by the minute for authoring.  Also look at if the authoring deal calls for the company to get a percentage of your sales of the track.  Once the track is authored and submitted to Rock Band Network, it must then go through peer review and receive a certain amount of positive feedback before it is made available for purchase.   Once the track is made available for purchase, acts receive 30 percent of the track sales.  The prices range from $1-3, so you can do the math as to how that works depending on the price.  It seems like a great way to get exposure for your music.  If you have tracks up on RBN, how is it going?  What do you think?  I’d be interested to hear from you.

Happy birthday!

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Friday marks an important milestone here in PunkLawyer land, it marks one year since I started my practice.  Not sure if it’s a birthday or an anniversary for the business, but I’m proud to have made it to this point.  It’s been a crazy year at times trying to get a business up and running, but when it gets down to it and I get to practice entertainment law for my clients, I love it.  Negotiating content licenses in this fast changing technological and entertainment environment has been fascinating and has brought me to really think outside the box.  It’s not just knowing what the technology does and can do, but also figuring out if those possibilities match with how the client wants his or her content used.  It’s a tough road, but at the end of the day I’m living my dream, helping clients manage the potential minefields of entertainment and hopefully make a living doing what they love.  As some of my law school classmates like to say, I practice ‘fun law,’ but for me I take it just as seriously as they would a criminal defense case.  So thanks to those who I have met this year, who offered advice, helped me out, and of course thanks to my clients.  I look forward to meeting more of my readers and Twitter followers in the future, it’s been fun getting to know a lot of you online.

In other news, I’ve been working to expand my skill set this week by attending a mediation certification training course.  If you’re not familiar with mediation, it is a form of what is called alternative dispute resolution, where parties can meet with a mediator to work to try and resolve their issues instead of going to court.  Mediation can be used in a variety of settings, from before a lawsuit has been filed to right before it is set to go to court, and in some instances can end up costing less than going to trial.  It also can be used in almost all areas of law, and can avoid having to discuss personal or embarrassing aspects of a dispute in open court before a judge and jury.  I’m excited to apply the skills I’ve learned not only in formal mediations, but also in informal dealings to help my clients work through disputes that may arise in the sometimes crazy world of entertainment.  Look for more on this topic, and if you have questions feel free to send them my way here, on e-mail or via Twitter.  Cheers, and have a great weekend!

Kids in Virtual Worlds, Vinyl and the Kitchen Sink

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

So I was out most of last week in San Francisco at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting. It was great meeting, I do a lot of work for the Section of Intellectual Property Law, so having the opportunity to meet face to face with my colleagues to plan for the year was really helpful. I also got to catch some great programs on current issues in virtual worlds, licensing issues in entertainment law, and potential pitfalls for clients in social media. I also got to see the city a bit, and hang out with Lisa from Amp Magazine. It was so rad to hang with another punk rock girl, there certainly aren’t a ton of us in the scene. I had such a great time out there I almost didn’t want to come back, thank you San Fran.  I feel more alive than I have in a while, can’t wait to go back.

So speaking of virtual worlds and social media, for those of you here in Florida, I encourage you to come to Social Media Club Southwest Florida’s event Monday night. I will be speaking about tips for parents to help keep their kids safe in virtual worlds and social gaming, and a Sergeant from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office will be speaking on online safety for kids and parents. Here is a link with more information, please check it out and register if you can make it: http://www.smcswfl.org/events/august-16th-2010-kids-and-cyber-safety/. I know even some of you punk rockers have kids now, and keeping them safe online is important. Look for more on these and other issues here at the blog.

And also to follow up on the guys in Protagonist, Vinnie Fiorello and the Paper and Plastick gang are putting on a vinyl auction to help the guys try to recover the $22,000 in gear they lost. Please check it out and if you can, bid on some test pressings for a good cause. Here’s more from the Paper and Plastick crew on the auction:

A major ethos in the punk rock community is to rally around causes and help each other in one’s time of need. One instance of the scene supporting itself is when fans help their favorite bands get back on their feet by donating money after suffering the all-too-common gear theft. Boca Raton’s PROTAGONIST suffered a similar fate in June when $22,000 worth of gear was stolen from their trailer just outside of their hotel room, as they were about to enter the studio with Stephen Egerton(Descendents, ALL) to record a new album. In order to help one of its own, PAPER + PLASTICK RECORDS has established an eBayauction of 43 rare Paper + Plastick vinyl test-pressings, and will donate all proceeds to the band.
“When you’re a young band, you are scraping for everything. Any roadblocks, large or small, seem like they might be, and in some cases, can be the end of the road,” confides Paper + Plastick founder Vinnie Fiorello, who has experienced it all with his band Less Than Jake. “Having all of your gear and trailer stolen would fit in the “Uh oh we’re fucked” category of problems a band has to deal with, but in the face of that, Protagonist goes on. With no bitching, they just move forward, not defeated. This auction is my way of helping them keep moving forward.”

TIME IS RUNNING OUT SO PLACE YOUR BIDS AND SPREAD THE WORD Check it out here.

See below for full listing of test-pressings:
• A Wilhelm Scream – s/t
• Anti-Flag – Queens and Kings 7″
• Blacklist Royals – Semper Liberi
• Coffee Project – Moved On
• The Dopamines – Expect The Worst
• Farewell Continental – s/t
• Flatliners/Snips – split 7″
• Foundation – Chimborazo
• Frank Turner – The First Three Years
• fun – Aim and Ignite
• Greenland Is Melting – Our Hearts Are Gold, Our Hearts Are Blue
• Saint Alvia – Joxner
• Slackers – Lost and Found
• Spanish Gamble – It’s All Coming Down
• The Have Nots – Serf City USA
• The Riot Before – Rebellion
• The Swellers – Ups and Downsizing
• Tumbledown – s/t
• We Are The Union – Great Leaps Forward
• West Bound Train – Come and Get It

Pigeongate Update

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

So after the first post about what is now being called “Pigeongate” by some reporters, more has come out about the Kings of Leon show.  Among my favorite quotes associated from the flap about this show comes from the band’s publicist, who pointed out that “at least no fans were pooped on, as far as we know.”  Oh good, what a relief.  I must say that I would bet the band’s next gig in Saint Louis will be at an indoor venue like the Pageant or the Scottrade Center rather than the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.  I’ve always liked the Pageant for shows, caught a lot of great ones in my time up there.  CNN ran a pretty amusing video with live footage of the show in question, check it out.

The Postelles, one of the opening acts, have released a statement about the fateful evening, where they allege that there was more than pigeon poop falling from the rafters:

“It was truly an honor to open up for the Kings of Leon on Friday night in St. Louis. Unfortunately, it was a (expletive)-storm for everyone involved. Amongst other things, a bird fell from the rafters and died while our drummer was setting up (services to be held next week), very fine clothing was ruined throughout the entire night (the laundry bill was rough!), and our equipment was completely covered with…well, you get the point. On a positive note, our bassist John developed some really excellent/awkward dance moves while trying to avoid the falling onslaught from the flock in the sky. We look forward to coming back to St. Louis — hopefully indoors this time.” — The Postelles

Eek, dead birds falling from the rafters, not sure what is grosser.  Certainly makes me think of the hilarious Monty Python dead parrot sketch, it could be one given all the strange factors in this story.

New Rider Request- No Pigeon Droppings on the Band

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

As the touring musicians out there know, almost anything can happen at a show, from crowd surfing guys in dinosaur suits to pyrotechnical mishaps to crazy weather.  I learned of another while reading the Riverfront Times A to Z blog coverage of the Kings of Leon show in Saint Louis last night, which was apparently cancelled due to problems with pigeon droppings hitting the band during their performance.   The tweets by drummer Nathan Followill give you an idea of how bad things were for the band:

@doctorfollowill So sorry St. Louis. We had to bail, pigeons shitting in jareds mouth. Too unsanitary to continue.

@doctorfollowill Don’t take it out on Jared, it’s the fucking venues fault. You may enjoy being shit on but we don’t. Sorry for all              who traveled many miles.

What a gross situation for the band.  Apparently the fans were not too happy when the band cancelled their performance after only 3 songs.  Livenation is providing fans with refunds, and the band is promising to return and make up the show.  Kings of Leon released the following press release today through their publicist:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PIGEON INFESTATION FORCES KINGS OF LEON OFFSTAGE EARLY IN ST. LOUIS

An infestation of pigeons living in the rafters of the Verizon Amphitheatre in St. Louis, MO, forced the Kings of Leon to walk           offstage after three songs last night. Even though opening bands The Postelles and The Stills came offstage complaining of getting riddled with large amounts of pigeon excrement, the Kings of Leon decided to carry on regardless. The band felt it would be unfair to the fans to cancel the show at that late moment.

“I’m surprised they stayed on for as many songs as they did,” said Andy Mendelsohn of Vector Management. “Jared was hit several times during the first two songs. On the third song, when he was hit in the cheek and some of it landed near his mouth, they couldn’t deal any longer. It’s not only disgusting — it’s a toxic health hazard. They really tried to hang in there. We want to apologize to our fans in St. Louis and will come back as soon as we can.”

When the band arrived earlier in the day, the venue warned management that there had been a significant pigeon infestation problem with summer shows over the years, but they were doing all they could to fix it.

“We couldn’t believe what The Postelles and The Stills looked like after their sets,” said Jared Followill. “We didn’t want to cancel the show, so we went for it. We tried to play. It was ridiculous.”

Kings of Leon are headed to Chicago tonight to perform at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre as scheduled.

Sounds like there might be a problem with pigeons at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, but dealing with pigeons can be frustrating, as I learned when they would crap on my apartment balcony when I lived in Saint Louis.  When I asked at Home Depot how to best get rid of them, the guy honestly told me the only thing you could do was shoot them.  Just putting it out there, Livenation, you might have a tough time.

This begs the question, how can you try to avoid such problems if you’re touring?  One way you can try to ensure that things go smoothly is by specifying certain needs, from food to insurance, in the contract with the venue or promoter if you have one (which you ideally should).  This includes the rider, which I suspect Kings of Leon’s management is currently updating to include that the performers not be exposed to bird droppings while performing.  For those of you unfamiliar with a rider, it is the provision in the contract that the act has with the venue or promoter containing the act’s requests for particular food, drinks, furniture, power, phone lines, etc to be provided to the band or performer.  There are legendary stories of different artists’ rider requests, such as Van Halen’s request that no brown M&M’s be  placed in their dressing room, which I have on good authority to be true.  Riders are also said to be included in the contract to make sure that the promoter or venue has actually read the contract and abides by it.  For a good read, check out the rider and catering requests from Metallica’s 2004 tour over at the Smoking Gun.  I love that they have to have bacon at every meal, cracks me up.  I also enjoy the Little Red Riders Book, it’s a quick and funny read.  Of course, you can put all kinds of requests in your rider, and crazy things will still happen sometimes out there.  I think being prepared to deal with unexpected events, and having a good team around you to help you if they do occur are essential to surviving a tour.  I’d love to hear your favorite stories of crazy happenings at shows, out there rider requests, and tips on dealing with tour craziness.

ccTLDs, gTLDS, and Making Sense of ICANN’s Alphabet Soup

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

A new Internet land rush started this week, as the .co extension became available.  This extension is what is called a ccTLD, or a country code top level domain, for the country of Colombia.  It has become popular with businesses and corporations, as well as with trademark owners with .co in their names.  Other popular ccTLDs that have had a similar mainstream appeal have been .tv for the country of Tuvalu, and .me for Montegnegro.  The .co domains went on sale Tuesday through registrars such as GoDaddy, and many of them have been snapped up.  This is only the beginning, as the Internet Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers, or ICANN, the organization charged with regulating domain names and other addresses on the Internet, is preparing to make available generic top level domains, or gTLDs in the near future.   ICANN also approved the top level domain .xxx earlier this year for adult web sites, which will go on sale next year.

So how does this affect you and your entertainment enterprise?  You’re probably familiar with the existing domain name extensions, such as .com, .net, and the need to register the domain name of your band or project to protect your space on the Internet.  So let’s say you registered the domain yourbandname.com, and have set up your web page on that domain.  You may have registered the misspellings of the domain, or other top level domains to cover the bases.  Well when the new gTLDs become available, you could wake up and find someone has registered the domain dot.yourbandname, or even yourbandname.sucks.  It is a real possibility that trademark owners and brand managers are concerned about, and several rounds of rules and dispute procedures have been released for public comment and revised by ICANN.  For now, the best approach to this is to keep an eye on what domains are made available and register domains relevant to your brand.

The .sucks and related domains are a real concern for trademark owners and brand managers, as well as free speech advocates.  Look for a future post on these gripe sites and how they interact with new gTLDs, I’m actually fascinated by the intersection of this area of the Internet and the law after looking into it.  In some instances, when trademark owners have gone after operators of domains disparaging their company, such as verizonsucks.com, it has only served to generate more gripe sites and attention to them.  It’s a similar problem for companies who end up with parody accounts on Twitter, such as  @BPGlobalPR that have popped up and certainly not operated by the actual company.  It’s not an immediate concern, as the process of applying to operate a top level domain to sell registrations with the extension .sucks has to be approved by ICANN and costs $45,000, but stranger things have happened on the Internet.  And if it was approved, there are people out there who would find the relatively low cost of registering a .sucks domain to be worth it to express their distaste for a company or product.  Just as an example, I love my Oakley eyeglass frames, but there’s a guy with a page out there devoted to getting Oakley to change how the end of the earpiece is shaped because he poked himself in the eye with the end of his one day.

Managing your brand online is important, and requires constant monitoring, including the opening of the new top level domains, as well as social media sites.  Setting up a Google alert for your brand name isn’t a bad idea to help with this process.  The decision of how to proceed if someone is using your name, or mark is one that differs depending on the strength of the mark and how vigorously you want to be in protecting it.  Look for more tips in the future.  I’d be interested in hearing from you on these issues as well.

Protagonist Update

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

People have been asking me how the guys in melodic hardcore band Protagonist are doing, and I wanted to post this update from guitarist Brian Forst.  Luckily, the guys were able to record with Stephen Egerton, and have posted some video up on PunkNews.  Unfortunately, the guys have not been able to recover their gear, and his update sheds some light on why:

For an update on the trailer situation, we’re just doing what we can to get back on our feet. Nothing turned up and everyone in         Oklahoma was very clear in saying nothing will turn up. It’s stupid but in the state of Oklahoma trailers don’t need titles, license   plates, or to be registered SO trailer stealing is one of their biggest crimes.  The people that steal them are professionals, quick and no exactly what they’re doing. Apparently they don’t want anything to do with what is inside the trailer, just the trailer itself they sell and they toss the rest of it. The police and locals know all of this because they caught a few trailer thieves a few years ago, found a hidden lot with dozens of trailers, and got them to talk. The people are “smart” and know that selling a bunch of equipment with serial numbers all over them will get them caught. Our trailer was parked right outside our room, on a decline with 3-locks attaching it to the van…these people were definitely professionals. Cop suggested that if they couldn’t remove the trailer they may have stole the whole van too and we’re lucky no one was inside of it.

Lucky indeed that no one was hurt, good to know if you’re going to be traveling through Oklahoma with gear.  There’s not much you can do if you’re in an area with determined thieves, especially in this economy.  It can’t hurt sharing information like this with other bands, at least so you can be prepared or try to avoid trouble spots if you can.  Try to figure out where is good to stay in an area

Here’s another issue that the guys learned from their experience that they were willing to share in regard to insurance:

The van was insured with full coverage and we were under the impression the trailer was covered but we overlooked the part that said the van and trailer both have to be in the same name. So the van being in Peters name, and the trailer being in mine, voided out the coverage. Expensive lesson learned.

Big bummer was we were financing that trailer and still owe money on it. Last summer our old trailer go totaled in the middle of nowhere and we had no money to buy a used one so we had no choice but to finance one with no money down. Fortunately through our paypal donations and a benefit show we put on, we almost made enough to pay for the trailer, but as for equipment we still got nothing. Vinnie from LTJ was awesome and gave our drummer one of his old drum sets to help us get back on our feet and the rest of us just have to start saving and borrow gear when we can. A few companies are offering us awesome deals but everything is still super expensive.

Sucks so much that this happened and we’re still insanely bummed, BUT it’s amazing the positive attention and messages we’ve been getting.  A bunch of bands offered to loan us stuff, a band called The Snips offered to print a free run of shirts for us, Hurley sent us a giant box of free clothes, and other cool things like that. So we really want to complain but it could have been much worse. It definitely makes for a good story for when the EP we recorded in Tulsa is released. There is definitely a lot of rage behind those new songs.

Glad to hear the community is helping them out, I’m not surprised.  I know I can’t wait to hear the new raging tracks, and wishing Protagonist great things for the future.  Thanks for the update Brian, and if you want to donate to help them replace their gear, go to Paypal at PROTAGONISTSTOLENGEAR@GMAIL.COM.  Also check out my original post for the list of gear that was stolen, just in case you might see it somewhere out there.  I know it’s tough out there for touring bands, hang in there all of you and be safe, it’s a crazy world these days.

Drunken Bus Drivers and Stolen Trailers, Oh My!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

So summer is here in full force, and with summer comes Warped Tour, which kicked off this weekend in Ventura, California.  Apparently it has been a bit of a wild ride for some of the artists so far.  Dying Scene reported that Sum 41 had a scary trip back from the show after discovering that their bus driver apparently was drunk.  In a series of tweets, the band described the experience:

“We are alive. In ventura. Ready to rock out.” 3:18 PM Jun 27th via UberTwitter

“What an idiot! We could have been killed! Fuck this guy. Never working for us again!” 10:00 AM Jun 27th via UberTwitter

“No doubt we like to drink. Its well documented. But this fucking idiot did it while driving!” 9:58 AM Jun 27th via UberTwitter

“New bus driver came and met us at the side of the road…. He seems more sober.” 9:55 AM Jun 27th via UberTwitter

“Recap. Our bus driver ran off the road. He was drunk. Deryck tried to fight him” 9:50 AM Jun 27th via UberTwitter

“So our bus driver was drunk. We are at the side of the road. This tweet is not a joke. Trying to get to Ventura for warped tour”  9:32 AM Jun 27th via UberTwitter

The band has obviously fired the driver, glad no one was hurt in the incident.  This incident not only illustrates how dangerous drinking and driving is, but also how important it is to make sure whoever is driving you and your gear around is safe to do so.  This includes not only being sober, but also rested.  If you’re hiring someone to drive a tour bus, make sure they are properly licensed, and a background check might not be a bad idea.  This goes for whether you have a driver or not.  If you have a tour manager, he or she is responsible for making sure your transportation on the road goes smoothly, and should be held accountable for those duties.  Of course, flights get delayed, vehicles get stuck in traffic, sometimes there’s nothing anyone can do.  But it’s a good idea to discuss with a tour manager what your expectations are of him or her for the tour, and then put it in writing so everyone is clear from the start.  This will help matters if problems do occur down the road, pardon the pun.  And they can happen, like when King Khan and BBQ were arrested in Kentucky on drug charges, and their tour manager was charged with driving with a suspended license in addition to possession.  The arrest not only resulted in cancelled shows, but reportedly also put their work visas in jeopardy.   So be careful out there.

In other Warped news, it was tweeted today that the Bouncing Souls would not be playing today’s date in New Mexico as their trailer may have been stolen:

“Also please note: BMTH is not playing because Oli is in LA and The Bouncing Souls will also not be playing because their trailer is          missing.”  about 1 hour ago via Twittelator Jun 30

Old Shoe Records was advising via Twitter for people in Phoenix to look out for Bouncing Souls merchandise to hopefully catch the culprit:

“The Bouncing Souls trailer was stolen yesterday in Phoenix! Watch for excess Souls Cd’s and Vinyl lets catch these bastards.” @vanswarpedtourabout 1 hour ago via TweetDeck

I think it’s getting scary out there for touring bands.  As I previously posted, Protagonist recently had their gear stolen, and Alternative Press has reported on the seeming rash of thefts of gear and trailers from bands.   I discussed in a previous post some tips for keeping your gear safe on the road, but it seems to be getting harder to outsmart the crooks.  Above all, keep records of your gear with the make, model, serial numbers, and any identifying features.  Take pictures of it, as well as your vehicle.  Get insurance for both, and understand what is and is not covered in your policy. Keep a copy of your policy with you, as well as the number of your agent or company.  Make sure to always lock the vehicle/trailer.  Unfortunately, it seems lately that even if you do everything you can think of, it still won’t stop a determined thief with tools to cut through chains or locks.  If something does happen to your gear, get a police report, and if you have insurance call the company to start the claims process.  This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, and I’d like to hear from bands, venues, etc that have dealt with theft and may have tips.  Look for more on this topic in the future, as well as an update from Protagonist.  Check out their videos from their recording session with Stephen Egerton over at Punknews.

Ready, Set, Film! (Or At Least Apply to Film)

Friday, June 11th, 2010

This week was an exciting one for entertainment in Florida.  Starting at noon Wednesday, the Governor’s Office of Film and Entertainment began accepting applications for the new 5 year, $252 million transferable tax credit program for film, television, commercials, music videos, as well as digital and emerging media.  The credits will be available on a first come, first served basis, and the word is that given the interest from all over the country, they are expected to go quickly.  The program begins July 1, 2010, and there is $53.5 million allocated for the 2010/2011 fiscal year.  There are three queues based on the type of project: general production, commercial and music videos, and independent and emerging media.  The tax credit ranges from the base percentage of 20 percent up to 30 percent if a project qualifies for either of the two available 5 percent bonuses for productions filmed during off season, and for family friendly productions.   The Film and Entertainment Office has a great site with more details and materials on the program, check it out here.   Given the great weather and locations available across the state, the program hopes to bring more film, television, and other projects to Florida, as well as bring jobs and support the growth of entertainment infrastructure.  With the growth of art and digital media programs in the state at at schools like Ringling College of Art and Design and UCF to name a few, I think it’s a great time to be encouraging new film and other entertainment projects in the state.   As per the update provided today by the Film and Entertainment Office, over 550 applications have been submitted for over 100 projects so far.   The Office staff are now moving forward with reviewing the submissions and supporting materials, and then qualifying and certifying projects to receive the tax credit.  There’s still time to apply, to be considered applications have to be submitted within 180 days of the start of filming or the start of the project.  As the program goes for 5 years, there is also time to dream up projects for future years of the incentive as well.  Here’s to more entertainment projects coming to Florida, have a great weekend!