The Associated Press reported last week that it is now legal, at least in
Friday, December 26, 2008
The Associated Press reported last week that it is now legal, at least in
I have been meaning to write something about the creative legal assaults on the RIAA filesharing lawsuits. First, I was impressed by the fact that Jammie Thomas’ attorney Brian Todder had convinced the court to overturn the jury verdict in her trial in
Monday, December 22, 2008
For years I have advised musicians in bands that they need partnership agreements with their band mates. Now, they may also need agreements with their girlfriends or boyfriends, as the case may be.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I have taught copyright law on an undergraduate level for a number of years. Recently, I have begun to notice a major change in my student’s attitudes. For years, while discussing the impact of new technology on copyright law, I have taught the case UMG Recordings, Inc. v. MP3.Com, Inc. (SDNY 2000) as an example of the arrogance of some of the early internet companies in their wholesale infringement of copyrights. In that case, the aptly named defendants blew what appeared to be a brilliant business strategy (they could have beat iTunes to the party) by introducing a new service which on the surface appeared to offer customers a place to store their cds online, but in reality involved the company “ripping” thousands of cds without permission from either the sound recording copyright owner or the music publisher. This seemed to me to be basic copyright infringement; the second circuit agreed.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
One of the great joys of Dylanology (i.e. the appreciation and study of all things related to Bob Dylan) is the unending mystery of his persona and his lyrics. I am fascinated by the fact that Dylan continuously seems to hide various clues in plain sight. Nowhere was this more apparent than on his 2001 album “Love and Theft”. As the Wall Street Journal reported several years ago, Dylan apparently ‘borrowed’ no less than twelve separate phrases from a book called “Confessions of a Yakuza” by Japanese doctor Junichi Saga. The discovery was made by a Dylan fan who happened to find Dr. Saga’s book at a bookstore in
Friday, November 7, 2008
I am as guilty as anybody of taking my adopted hometown for granted. I complain about everything form the number of luxury condos blighting the once familiar landscape to the current state of country music. However, every now and then I am reminded why
Friday, October 24, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Anyone who knows me knows of my admiration/obsession for John Lennon and the Beatles. I am also a more recent admirer of Yoko Ono (it took a while to get over those scenes from “Let it Be”). I am also a fan of Ben Stein. My wife and I used to be addicted to the show “Win Ben Stein’s Money”. Therefore the recent legal confrontation between Yoko and Ben Stein over the unauthorized use of John Lennon’s “Imagine” in Stein’s movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” was irresistible.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
There has been a great deal of press lately concerning artists and songwriters attempting to stop political parties from using their songs without permission, thereby implying an endorsement. There are probably earlier examples but everyone recalls Ronald Reagan’s attempt to use Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the
Monday, October 6, 2008
You would probably have to live in
Saturday, October 4, 2008
About a year ago, I wrote a letter to all of my clients telling them that they needed to have wills, especially if they had children or estates of any consequence. Here’s how the letter read:
To my clients and friends:
I don’t want this letter to sound presumptuous. However, recently, two events made me think seriously about one of the basic legal necessities: the need to have a will. In one case, a friend passed away without a will, leaving chaos and confusion in her passing. Although various people assumed that they knew what her wishes were, no one knew for sure. I am afraid that her intentions may not be carried out.
In another instance, my ten year old daughter began asking what would happen to her if both her parents died. Although I assured her that we had wills, a trust and a guardian in place for her, I also had to tell her that my wife and I spent several uncertain years without wills while we debated the issue of who her guardian would be.
I have been thinking a great deal about these issues and these events just reinforced the need to have a will in place to lay out your specific intentions should something happen to you prematurely. If you don’t have children, it’s still important to make your wishes known. If you do have children it is a necessity to provide for their care and support. Also, since a lot of my clients are songwriters and artists, it is important that you think about the disposition of your intellectual property. You need to be aware of specific provisions of the Copyright Act that might apply to your circumstances.
None of this is meant to sound alarming but I was beginning to think that it was irresponsible not to at least address these concerns with my clients. If you want to consult with me regarding drafting a will, trust or estate plan, please don’t hesitate to call me or e-mail me. Also, if you have a will that is more than five years old it is always a good idea to review it to make sure it is up to date with your current situation. I have learned that the selection of a guardian for minor children often changes as our children grow. It’s also important to have a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and a living will. Let me know if I can be of assistance to you in any of these areas.
A couple of my clients told me that they thought this was good marketing on my part, but it was not meant as a marketing tool; I was (and I am) really serious about this. I have seen too many people not have their wishes carried out because of poor or non-existent estate planning. This is why I have grown more interested in this area. It is absolutely essential.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
This case underscores the point that I (and every other entertainment lawyer on the planet) have always made to bands who are about to achieve any level of success: you have to have an agreement in writing with your bandmates. Even with an amicable departure, there will always be room for misunderstanding and misinterpretation. A well drafted partnership agreement can't solve every problem but it will certainly help in the event of a disagreement. Furthermore, a departing member's right to compensation needs to be dealt with as close to the departure date as possible.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I want to congratulate my client Apex Music Nashville for the successful launch of the new Jason Boland album "Comal County Blue". Last week the record was the #1 country album on iTunes, as well as #2 National Heatseeker on Billboard (#1 Heatseeker in the South Central Region), and 159 on Billboard's Top 200. This is fairly astounding for the second release on a new label. This is a testament not only to Boland's great talent but also to the savvy folks at Apex Music and the mighty Thirty Tigers distribution team. Its also all the proof I need that the major label distribution system is no longer dominant and more importantly, that you don't need a million bucks to get a good record noticed, if you are working with people who know what they are doing. This is very inspiring.
"there is a thing called publishing, this is what people live off of when the are in a band. EVERY band splits publishing so that everyone in the band is equal. i have lived off $30,000 for 3 years now since we signed that record deal. its hard to play in a band when you dont have a car and another member has a brand new convertible. its hard to go to band practice when you see all the great steaks, cookies, booze, a brand new hd big screen tv, about 100 dvds, new furniture, and all that s..t. there would be days i was starving and i would go to practice at his house and i would see that even the dog was being taken care of."--Bob Ferrari, formerly of the Pink Spiders, quoted on the Nashville Scene's music blog, Nashville Cream.
"A band is a microcosm of society. You hire the the people you want to work with it and you work communally and you split the money evenly". REM's Peter Buck quoted in Mojo, September 2008.Without editorializing, that pretty much defines the two different views of how musical groups should split publishing income.