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Douglas L. Johnson

Douglas L. Johnson is Managing Partner at Johnson & Johnson

Professional Experience

Mr. Johnson is well known for handling high-profile and high-impact entertainment matters. His clients include producers, actors, directors, writers, production companies, music artists, composers, music publishers, and independent record labels. He is well-known for his successes in royalty disputes, profit participation disputes, right of publicity cases, and theft of idea cases for film and television.  Mr. Johnson also handles invasion of privacy and libel cases, business disputes, and class actions. 

Mr. Johnson has been repeatedly named by Super Lawyer as a top intellectual property litigator for more than a decade, representing the top 2.5% of the profession in Southern California. Mr. Johnson also serves as outside general counsel for WorldStarHipHop.com, a popular music and pop culture website, where he deals with cutting-edge copyright, media, and right of privacy issues.  Mr. Johnson has handled numerous copyright infringement lawsuits in Federal Court for Worldstar.  

Since co-founding Johnson & Johnson, Mr. Johnson has been at the forefront of developing California's right of publicity laws. He regularly represents celebrities, models, and professional athletes in litigation against defendants who have wrongfully used their images.  He has litigated cases up to the California Supreme Court, advocating for precedent to protect the rights of all Californians from those who would seek to profit from their names, images, and likenesses without authorization. Mr. Johnson's advocacy in this area of law extends to his participation on speaking panels, publication of scholarly articles, and educating law students on the importance of these rights.  Mr. Johnson recently litigated a right of publicity case that resulted in a 9.6 million jury award and an attorney fee award of 7 million against Coca-Cola and Monster Energy for building their Hubert's Lemonade brand around the name of the founder of Hansen Juices, Hubert Hansen.  Mr. Johnson also received a seven-figure jury award in a right of publicity case for an actor/supermodel.  

Representative Matters
  • Handled profit participation disputes on behalf of Sylvester Stallone (Demolition Man, Expendables, and the Rocky Films), Glen Larson (Magnum PI, Knight Rider, Fall Guy, Battlestar Galactica), Ed Weinberger (Amen), Richard Dreyfuss (Goodbye Girl, Mr. Holland's Opus, and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, and What About Bob?), Raymond Wagner (Turner and Hooch), Jack Klugman (Quincy, Odd Couple), Mike Connors (Mannix), the Estate of Charles Bronson (St. Ives, Telefon), Mort Engelberg (Hot Stuff and Smokey And The Bandit), and the owners of the Friday 13th horror franchise.  
  • Lead counsel in a class action against Sony Music, resulting in $12.7 million settlement and 36% uplift in ongoing foreign streaming royalties in Nelson v. Sony (S.D.N.Y) benefiting thousands of legacy recordings artists; currently co-counsel in similar litigation on behalf of legacy artists signed to Warner and Universal. 
  • Lead Counsel defending RatPac in idea theft case over the 2018 Melissa McCarthy movie, Life of the Party.
  • Lead Counsel representing producer in a dispute over turnaround rights to the film Rush Hour 4.  
  • Lead Counsel for Janet Jackson in a royalty dispute with her label.  
  • Obtained $5.35 million in retrospective relief and an estimated $3.1 million in savings over the next three years in Risto v. AFM & SAG-AFTRA (C.D. Cal.) for non-featured performers who receive royalties from the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund.
  • Obtained a seven-figure settlement as lead counsel in a major talent management dispute for actress Karrueche Tran after successfully freezing all her manager's assets in Tran v. Muhammad (C.D. Cal.)
  • Currently representing the leading production music company in North America on a variety of copyright matters both in and out of litigation-see, e.g.Associated Production Music v. The Vail Corp. (C.D. Cal.)
  • Co-counsel in class actions against major Hollywood studios alleging endemic underpayment on home video and new digital media for pre-1982 movies for writers, producers, actors, and directors.  In those cases, Mr. Johnson handled the settlement with Universal for $25 million, the settlement with Fox for $12.6 million, and the settlements with Sony and Paramount.
  • Mr. Johnson was co-counsel in three class actions against the record industry companies over digital download royalties of underpayments to artists (Temptations/Motels/Ronee Blakely), resulting in eight-figure settlements.  The cases dealt head-on with unresolved points of law as to the classification of digital downloads, and the rights of artists to receive royalties in the face of changing technology. 
  • Mr. Johnson has litigated several high-profile libel actions against large media companies, resulting in several mid-seven figure settlements.  Recently he represented Richard Simmons against In-Touch Magazine. In May 2020, he argued and won an Anti-SLAPP appeal for Mr. Simmons.
  • With his partner, Neville L. Johnson, he settled three class actions against the Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, and Screen Actors Guild of America for tens of millions of dollars of unpaid foreign levies.  
  • Defended blues icon B.B. King in a case seeking declaratory relief regarding the right to produce a film about his life, resulting in dismissal of the lawsuit.
  • Obtained a seven-figure jury verdict in Oregon U.S. District Court on behalf of a music artist and record company in a copyright infringement case.
  • Represented business owner in arbitration in a partnership dispute resulting in a seven-figure award for the client.
  • Wrongful death and civil rights case resulting in reorganization of staffing and training at a county jail. The matter was featured on the cover of the Sacramento News & Review and constituted the largest settlement in the nation at the time for such a case.
Thought Leadership
  • Panelist, Beverly Hills Bar Association, Entertainment Law Year in Review, Ethics (January 13, 2020)
  • Adjunct Professor, Entertainment and Media Litigation, Southwestern School of Law, (2012 to Present)
  • Panelist, “Backend Optics: Profit Participations Through Different Lenses,” Beverly Hills Bar Association, Entertainment Law Section, (2018)
  • Panelist, “I'm a Celebrity, You Can't Do That, (Can You?), California Society of Entertainment Lawyers, (2018)
  • Panelist, “Entertainment Year in Review: Entertainment Litigation With Stars Of The Bar,” Beverly Hills Bar Association, Entertainment Law Section, (2017)
  • Panelist, “The Right of Publicity: The State of The Current Law,” Beverly Hills Bar Association, Entertainment Law Section, (2014)
  • The Ever-Evolving Courtroom Drama of Net Profits, Donald L. Stone's Inn of St. Ives, (2012)
  • Panelist, Right of Publicity: How Much Is Your Client Really Worth?, Beverly Hills Bar Association, Entertainment Law Section, (2012)
  • Panelist, Current Issues in Right of Likeness, Defamation and Privacy, Beverly Hills Bar Association, Entertainment Law Section, (2011)
  • Panelist, Injuries Without Remedies, Loyola Law School's Legal Symposium, (2011)
Sample Publications
  • Say Goodbye to Back-End Deals, New York State Bar Association, Arts and Sports Law Journal, Vol. 32, No. 3 (Fall 2021)
  • 3 Music Litigation Developments in 2020-2021, Daily Journal (October 23, 2021)
  • Contract, Fraud, and Libel Damages, Journal of Consumer Attorneys Associations for Southern California, Advocate Magazine (October 2021).  
  • 3 Music Litigation Developments in 2020-2021, Daily Journal (September 16, 2021)
  • Recent Developments In Entertainment Law: Defamation Jurisdiction, Copyright, and Talent Contest Agreements (Summer 2021)
  • Black Windows: Scarlett Jo vs Disney, Daily Journal, (July 6, 2021)
  • Recent Right of Privacy Developments, Daily Journal, (July 22, 2021)
  • Developments In Libel, Social Media, Privacy and The Right of Publicity, (Spring 2021)
  • Copyright Developments in 2020, New York State Bar Association, Arts and Sports Journal, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Sring 2021)
  • Pandemic-era Appellate Rulings Take on Arbitration, Los Angeles Daily Journal (April 22, 2021)
  • Recent Interesting Cases, New York State Bar Association, Arts and Sports Law Journal, Vol. 31, No. 2, (Spring 2020)
  • Hollywood Docket: Trending: Data Privacy, Copyright Trolling, And A Clause To Keep In Mind, New York State Bar Association, (June 6, 2020)
  • Recent Development In Copyright Law, Daily Journal, (August 2, 2020)
  • COVID-19 And The Return To Film Production In California, Los Angeles Daily Journal, (July 13, 2020)
  • Interesting New Developments About Which All Practitioners Should Be Aware Of, New York State Bar Association, Arts and Sports Law Journal, Vol. 31, No. 1, (Winter 2020)
  • My Big Mouth, Journal of Consumer Attorneys Association for Southern California, Advocate Magzine, (December 2019)
  • Entertainment Contracts With Minors in New York and California, New York State Bar Association, Arts and Sports Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, (Spring 2019)
  • Defamation and Invasion of Privacy in the Internet Age, Southwestern Journal of International Law, Volume XXV (2019)
  • When Will Legal Communication Result In Liability? Los Angeles Daily Journal, (Mar 29, 2019)
  • Entertainment Contracts With Minors: Clarification Needed, Los Angeles Daily Journal, (Nov. 27, 2018)
  • Tales and Lessons Regarding the Right of Publicity, USC Entertainment Law Spotlight, Issue 2, (2018)
  • Hollywood Docket: Tales and Lessons Regarding the Right of Publicity, New York State Bar Association, Arts and Sports Law Journal, No. 2, (Summer 2018)
  • Hollywood Docket: Essential Clauses for Drafting an Ironclad Release and Consent Agreement, New York State Bar Association, Arts and Sports Law Journal, Vol. 29, No. 1, (Spring, 2018)
  • Before You Sign That Deal At Cannes…Produced By, Producers Guild of America, (April/May 2017)
  • Hollywood Docket: Making the Perfect Pitch, New York State Bar Association, Arts and Sports Law Journal, Vol. 27, No.3, (Fall/Winter 2017)
  • Hollywood Docket: One-Sided World, New York State Bar Association, Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Journal, Vol 27, No. 2., (Summer, 2016)
  • A New Way to Revive a Corporation, Los Angeles Daily Journal, (Oct 26, 2016)
  • Hollywood Docket: Social Media, the Law, and You, New York State Bar Association, Arts and Sports Law Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Fall 2016)
  • What Happened to Unjust Enrichment in California? The Deterioration of Equity in the California Courts, Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Vol. 44:277 (Fall 2010)
Published Cases

Gerbosi v. Gaims, Weil, West & Epstein, LLP (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 435

Walker v. Geico General Ins. Co. (9th Cir. 2009) 558 F.3d 1025

Simmons v. Bauer Media Group USA, LLC (2020) 50 Cal App.5th 1037

Education:

  • J.D., University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, 2000, Dean's List
  • B.A., University of Southern California, 1996, Dean's List

Practice Areas:

  • Entertainment Litigation
  • Complex Business Litigation
  • Class Action Litigation
  • Intellectual Property Litigation
  • Defamation, Media, and First Amendment Law
  • Rights of Privacy and Publicity

Admissions:

  • California

WE CAN PROVIDE THE FORTITUDE YOU NEED

At Johnson & Johnson, LLP, we believe that your voice deserves to be heard. Call us at (310) 975-1080 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation at our Beverly Hills office.

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