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Jonathan Segal

Jon is an attorney with a passion for digital and traditional media, who has worked on award-winning productions in film, television, and the interactive space. His practice naturally focuses on intellectual property, communications, First Amendment, and other issues that affect the companies and technologies that make what we watch, amuse and delight us, and inform all of our worldviews. He provides counseling for feature films and for programming produced or distributed by HBO, Legendary Television, Netflix, Seeso, Funny or Die, CNBC, E!, USA Networks, AETN, ABC, Comedy Central, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Participant Media, MTV, VH1, Adult Swim, IFC, TruTV, Showtime Networks, PBS, Discovery Communications, SuperDeluxe, Crackle, and YouTube, with an emphasis on programming with intensive social-media engagement, documentaries, and content that is based on true events. He also advises print publications, including US Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter.

Among many other productions, Jon has counseled "Spotlight" (winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture), "13th” (named to the shortlist for the Academy Award for Best Documentary), "@Midnight" (two-time Emmy winner for Best Social Media Experience), "Denial," "The Daily Show," "The Nightly Show," "South Park," "Last Week Tonight," "Love," "Colony," "Janis: Little Girl Blue," "The Profit," "The Real World," "The Challenge," "Celebrity Wife Swap," "With Bob and David," "Comedy Bang Bang," "Too Many Cooks," "WAGS: Wives and Girlfriends of Professional Athletes," "Guy's Grocery Games," "Rick and Morty," and "Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories."

As a litigator, Jon has successfully defended content creators from claims of all sorts, including claims for defamation, false light, right of publicity, and copyright infringement. On behalf of media and nonprofit clients, he has also successfully sued municipal, state, and federal agencies for public records under the federal Freedom of Information Act and California Public Records Act. Jon has argued before the California Superior Court, United States District Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Specialties: Pre-broadcast and pre-publication counseling, fair use, copyright, defamation, idea submission, DMCA, right-of-publicity, and other media-related litigation.

Representative Experience

Frigon v. Universal Pictures

Defending Universal Pictures in a right-of-publicity, unfair competition, and false advertising lawsuit arising from the upcoming Tom Cruise film "American Made" (formerly "Mena"), which chronicles the life of Barry Seal, a cocaine smuggler and CIA informant who was assassinated by Colombian drug lords in 1986. Seal’s ex-wife/executor alleges that the studio was required to obtain her consent to make the film and asked the court for damages for violation of his right-of-publicity and for an order setting aside a life rights agreement that the producers entered into with several of Seal’s other relatives. The district court in Louisiana granted our motion to dismiss in September 2016, and recently denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial, as well. In February 2017, the court deemed Universal to be the prevailing party under Louisiana’s anti-SLAPP statute and set a hearing on our client’s entitlement to recover its attorneys’ fees. The plaintiff has appealed, and we will file our appellate briefing later this summer. (19th Judicial Dist. Ct. of the State of Louisiana Ongoing)

The Sporting Times, et al. v. Orion Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc., Have Glove Productions, et al.

Representing defendants in a lawsuit filed by an online sports publication, The Sporting Times, which claims that its trademark was unlawfully used in Spaceman, a biopic about eccentric former Major League Baseball star Bill “Spaceman” Lee. The plaintiffs allege that the film and its trailer infringed their mark by using it without their permission. The lawsuit includes trademark and false advertising claims under federal and state law, and pits our clients’ First Amendment right to free expression against the plaintiffs’ trademark interests. Our motion to dismiss is pending. (Ongoing)

Taylor v. Viacom

Defending Viacom against rap artist’s breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and related claims arising from casting of the reality television series "She’s Got Game." We intend to file an anti-SLAPP motion. (Ongoing)

Michael v. Estate of Kovarbasich

Successfully fought document subpoena directed to journalist and professor Bonnie Stewart by Consolidation Coal Company. The United States District Court found that professor Stewart’s interview notes and transcripts, to the extent they existed, were protected by the qualified reporter’s privilege. 44 Media L. Rep. 1572 (2015)

Pasadena Police Officers Association v. Superior Court (Los Angeles Times, Real Party in Interest)

Represented the Los Angeles Times on appeal, to obtain access to redacted copy of report evaluating the City of Pasadena’s investigation of and response to the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager. 240 Cal. App. 4th 268 (2015)

Singletary v. Magical Elves, Wolf Reality, et al.

Defended Magical Elves and Wolf Reality in right-of-publicity lawsuit filed by a murder suspect against producers of TNT’s docuseries “Cold Justice.” The case was resolved on favorable terms for our client. (Tenn. Cir. Ct., Sumner County, 2015)

Brodeur v. Atlas Entertainment (American Hustle)

Represented a group of amici made up of media and entertainment organizations in successful appeal of a Superior Court decision that denied the producers and distributor of American Hustle’s special motion to strike.  The Court of Appeals reversed the adverse Superior Court decision, finding that the SLAPP statute applied to a defamation claim related to the film, and striking the complaint. 248 Cal. App. 4th 665 (2016)

David Strick v. Los Angeles Times Communications, LLC, et al.

Represented the Los Angeles Times and the Tribune Company in a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by a freelance photographer who claimed that the defendants were liable for more than 500 violations of his copyrights for the use of photographs that the Times defendants claimed were covered by a license agreement. Succeeded in a motion to compel arbitration in 2011. In 2012, succeeded in obtaining a judgment from the arbitrator in favor of the Times and the Tribune dismissing the lawsuit, and granting the defendants' request for attorneys' fees and costs in excess of $260,000. Order confirming arbitration award entered in 2014. (C.D. Cal./Arbitration 2014)

First Amendment Coalition v. DOJ

Prosecuting Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to compel the U.S. Justice Department to disclose its legal memoranda concerning the legality of the lethal targeting of U.S. citizens overseas. Plaintiff First Amendment Coalition obtained two previously classified memoranda. In December 2016, Jon argued an appeal related to this case before the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. (Ongoing)

In re Clergy Cases

Represented the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press in their intervention into a long-running dispute regarding the release of documents reflecting the alleged abuse of children, and conduct by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in connection with that alleged abuse. Obtained the release of unredacted documents, which included the names of all members of the Church Hierarchy charged with supervising accused priests. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2012)

Medi Entity v. Health Investment Corp. & VCFB Management v. Anaheim General Hospital LP

Defended hospital-related entities in breach of contract and related claims arising from two failed attempts by plaintiffs to acquire hospital. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2012)

ACTV8 v. Media General

Represented multimedia company Media General in a suit alleging breach of contract and fraud related to the development of mobile applications to use smartphones and tablets as second screens while watching television (C.D. Cal. 2011)

Los Angeles Times Communications & McClatchy Newspapers v. California Legislature

Represented the Los Angeles Times and McClatchy newspapers in landmark case seeking California Legislators' office budget records under the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA). The Court ordered the release of all records sought and the Legislature paid the Times and McClatchy’s attorneys’ fees incurred in securing the order. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2011)

Omidi v. Hiltzik; Omidi v. Pfeifer; Silverman v. Hiltzik, 1-800GET THIN LLC v. Hiltzik

Represented the Los Angeles Times in a series of related cases, all of which arose from The Times' reporting about two brothers, both former Beverly Hills surgeons, who began a lucrative weight-loss business. Omidi v. Hiltzik and Omidi v. Pfeifer alleged defamation based on reporting by The Times, and Silverman v. Hiltzik alleged illegal recording of phone conversations by a Times columnist. All three cases were thrown out on early motions under California's SLAPP law, and fees were awarded to the Times in each case. A fourth case alleging violations of federal trademark laws was also thrown out by a federal judge on an early motion. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2011; C.D. Cal. 2011)

Vanetik v. Hart Energy Publishing

Represented Hart Energy Publishing, publisher of "Oil and Gas Investor" and, in a defamation, false light, and misappropriation case arising from an article published by Hart. The case was thrown out on an early motion under California’s SLAPP statute, and the California Court of Appeal upheld its dismissal. Hart also recovered nearly all the attorneys' fees incurred in the action. (Cal. Super. Ct.; Cal. Ct. of Appeals, 4th Dist. 2011)

Pre-broadcast and production counseling and IP advice for various television series and pilots

Regularly provides counsel on rights, pre-broadcast, advertising, and promotions issues, and related services for television networks, production companies, and other content services including: Amazon Studios, Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central/Viacom, Turner Broadcasting (TNT, truTV, Turner Sports, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network), VICELAND, Fusion, AMC, A&E, El Rey Network, Pivot/Participant Media, Legendary Television, Lionsgate Television, Funny or Die, SuperDeluxe, Abso Lutely, ITV, Magical Elves, Left/Right, Titmouse Studios, Red Bull Media House, LeVision Entertainment, LinkedIn, Shed Media, Entertainment One, Blumhouse, South Park Studios and others. Representative projects include "@midnight," "Tosh.0," "South Park," "Cold Justice," "Unlocking the Truth," "Billions," "The Affair," "Ray Donovan," "Orange is the New Black," "Ballers," "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee," "Last Week Tonight," "Chumel con  Chumel Torres," "The Man in the High Castle," "Transparent," "I Love Dick," "Stranger Things," "Nathan for You," "The Eric Andre Show," "Rick and Morty," "With Bob and David," "American Playboy," "Throwing Shade," "Manuscript," "Grand Tour," "Desus & Mero," "Weediquette," "Hamilton's Pharmacopeia," and "Triumph’s Election Special 2016." (Ongoing)

Pre-distribution and production counseling and IP advice for motion pictures, documentaries, and video games

Regularly counsels the producers of feature-length films, documentaries, and video games regarding right of publicity, life rights, copyright, trademark, and defamation issues, often on projects that tackle sensitive topics and involve substantial fair use issues ("Spotlight," "Funny or Die Presents Donald J. Trump’s The Art of the Deal," "Anomalisa," "Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman," "Virunga," "Finding Vivian Maier," "Prophet’s Prey," "Deliver Us From Evil," "West of Memphis," "Tales of the Grim Sleeper," "South Park:  Stick of Truth," "South Park: Fractured But Whole," "Whitney: Can’t I Be Me?"). Representative clients include Netflix, Amazon Studios, Cross Creek Pictures, Disarming Films, Funny or Die, South Central Films, Participant Media, Ravine Pictures, Legendary, and South Park Digital Studios. (Ongoing)

Additional Qualifications

  • Associate, Irell & Manella LLP, Los Angeles, 2009-2011
  • Judicial Clerk, Hon. Cormac J. Carney, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Santa Ana, Calif., 2008-2009
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