Understanding the rise of class action lawsuits in the entertainment industry

Categories: Class Action

The entertainment industry is more than just Hollywood. It covers video games, sports, movies and TV, and social media. Media and entertainment industries are governed by complex precedents developed over decades, with complex legal issues that touch on patents, trade secrets, breach of contract, labor and compensation, user privacy, and unfair competition, among many other things.

The rapidly changing technology over the past 20 years and the rise of social media have bred novel legal issues, and the laws haven’t caught up with many of the current issues at play.

Class action suits are a legal vehicle for a group of people harmed in the same manner by the same entity to get justice in the form of financial compensation for their losses. Violation of privacy, exorbitant online ticket purchase fees, and discrimination are common allegations in entertainment industry class action suits. Contact Ernst Law Group today at (805) 541-0300 for a free consultation with a San Luis Obispo class action attorney.

Why are class action lawsuits increasing in number?

Entertainment industry class action lawsuits may be increasing because more consumers realize that they have power when they work together. Recently, Taylor Swift fans sued the concert ticket distribution giant TicketMaster for gouging ticket prices and unnecessary fees.

These cases get plenty of media attention and shine a light on some of the unscrupulous practices in the entertainment industry. A class action suit may be the only avenue for change to some of these practices. If entertainment conglomerates realize that customers will not tolerate price-gouging or spurious fees, then they may change their behavior.

Another recent suit is a class-action concerning ageism in the screenwriters industry. 165 plaintiffs sued studios in Hollywood for age discrimination and squeezing them out of the industry in favor of younger talent. The suit settled in favor of the plaintiffs, and this win may open the door for more discrimination class-action suits.

Factors that contribute to the increase in entertainment industry class-action lawsuits

Privacy is a major concern for many people. The increasing creep of data collection, including what shows or movies people watch on streaming services or personal information passively collected from entertainment apps like mobile games or social media, has outraged many people.

Privacy violations are one of the most common types of entertainment industry class-action lawsuits, probably because these violations affect so many people. Questions over just exactly what personal data is used for are at the forefront of these mass torts.

Many of these entertainment class action lawsuits are filed under the statutes of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) of 1988, which guarantees privacy and protection of a user’s viewing habits. Apple, Disney, Hulu, Facebook, and Cartoon Network have all been named defendants in different suits alleging that users’ personal information was gathered using tracking cookies and that several large entertainment companies traded user information with one another, presumably for marketing purposes.
Class action defendants are often accused of selling user behavior patterns to marketing companies and social media companies that contain ads, like Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit. Businesses may pay for information to create targeted ads and to better pinpoint which users fit their primary demographic for certain products.

History of class action lawsuits in the entertainment industry

Class action suits may have started with the 1948 Supreme Court case United States v. Paramount. In this case, a group of independent theater owners and smaller studios took on the biggest Hollywood studios in an antitrust lawsuit. The large studios had a near monopoly on the business, including strict contracts for actors, which hindered the fledgling television industry.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, breaking the stranglehold of the studios on the Hollywood entertainment industry.

Further lawsuits covered everything from discrimination to unfair royalty allocation to child labor violations. The rise of class action lawsuits for ticketing fees and invasions of privacy is relatively new.

The implications of entertainment industry class action lawsuits

What does the rise of entertainment industry lawsuits mean for people like you? Well, it means that you may have been affected by overreach from media companies or harmed because your personal data was collected without your consent or sold to another entity without your consent.

What are the implications of mass tort suits in the entertainment industry in general? Hopefully, it will change the industry. Sometimes, a large jury award in a lawsuit or a multi-million negotiated settlement is enough to convince entertainment industry titans to “shape up” and engage in more ethical business practices.

Are you affected by some of these common entertainment industry issues?

Do you need to learn your legal options for joining an entertainment industry class action lawsuit? Are you concerned that you may be a victim of privacy violations and want to learn more about your options under the VPPA laws? We can help. Call (805) 541-0300 to schedule your free consultation.