La-la-lawsuits: A look back on January’s finest litigious moments

January 30th, 2012

EMI is suing MP3 reselling startup ReDigi.

More EMI lawsuits.. The company (via the Irish Music Rights Association) has now sued the entire country of Ireland in a High Court action for not doing enough to require ISPs to block websites that are engaging in piracy.

The Velvet Underground has sued the foundation that manages the legacy of Andy Warhol arguing that the artist of their iconic ‘banana’ album cover artwork has no copyright or trademark ownership over the image.

PacketVideo and Spotify have settled the lawsuit brought by PacketVideo, alleging that Spotify infringed its patent relating to streaming music from a central source.  Details of the settlement have not been disclosed.

Former Disney executive VP Glen Lajeski filed a lawsuit against the studio alleging that his contract was breached when the company fired him last June.  Lajeski was let go purportedly without any cause and without the opportunity to cure.  His employment contract was not due to expire until January 1, 2013.

Event/MCLE: NYSBA Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Section Annual Meeting

January 17th, 2012

Next week is the New York State Bar Association’s annual meeting.  On Monday, January 23rd, the Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Section will be holding its meeting in conjunction with a 4-credit  MCLE.

The MCLE topics are:

NEW MODELS OF PUBLISHING: E-BOOKS, APPS, SELF-PUBLISHING AND OTHER CHALLENGES – This program will examine new developments in publishing that are challenging the accepted ways of doing business while also providing new revenue sources for both publishers and authors. Our panel will offer perspectives on digital rights and new distribution methods from the points of view of the publisher, literary agent and author. We will also discuss the impact of these developments on contract drafting and negotiations, rights licensing and other aspects of the publishing business.

CURRENT AND TRENDING TOPICS IN BRAND, FAMOUS PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER LICENSING: DEVELOPMENT TO BANKRUPTCY – This session will focus on two less discussed areas of licensing and intellectual property and trademark law: 1) the process of developing a brand and/or license platform for a celebrity, character, interactive property or existing corporate brand product from its initial negotiation from the owner of the underlying rights to licensee and retailer; and 2) the phenomenon of distressed brands, including the treatment of brands and accompanying licenses in bankruptcy, including the possible auction of that brand and licenses. Our experienced and distinguished panel will discuss real examples of both areas, giving the participant an understanding of the intricacies of developing and licensing nascent brands- both celebrity- or character- driven , as well as what occurs in bankruptcy situations- including the rudiments of an auction for different IP rights and the treatment of licenses of trademarks versus other intellectual property rights under U.S. bankruptcy laws.

Following the event, there will be a cocktail reception at UBS with live jazz music and a tour of the private art collection.

Registration information available here.

La-la-lawsuits: A Look Back at December’s Finest Litigious Moments

December 30th, 2011

Croatian journalist James Braddock has sued Angelina Jolie for copyright infringement of his book, The Soul Shattering (his website discusses the legal dispute in detail).  Braddock claims Jolie’s directorial-debut documentary, In the Land of Blood and Honey, infringes upon his 2007 book.  Braddock allegedly discussed the book in detail with the Bosnian producer of the film before the film was made.  The movie commenced production in 2010, and Braddock only recently filed the lawsuit, just weeks before the scheduled release.  Because of the late timing, the judge seemed reluctant to grant Braddock’s motion for a temporary restraining order and Braddock withdrew the motion before the decision was finalized.  The case was filed with the federal court in Illinois, but the judge has indicated a likelihood he will transfer it to California, given that the parties – Croatian and Californian – have pretty much no connection to the midwest state.

The Meester family will be having a peaceful Christmas, now that  the Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester and her mother Constance Meester have resolved their legal dispute.  The suit began over Leighton alleging that Constance misused the actress’s money, then developed into the issue of whether Constance was entitled to compensation for her alleged role in guiding her daughter’s career.  Most recently, Constance withdrew her claims leading to a default judgment in favor of Leighton.

The estate of Bruce Gary, drummer of the band The Knack (best known for the song “My Sharona”) has sued Capitol Records, claiming unpaid royalties for digital downloads.  The issue is whether digital downloads on platforms such as iTunes count as a ‘license’ of the master or a ‘sale’ of the phonorecords under the recording agreement.  Phonorecords implies the physical album sale, rather than digital and the label pays significantly lower royalties to artists on sales than licenses.  For a license, the royalty rate could be up to 50%, whereas for a sale the rate would likely be closer to 12%.

2011 has been a rough year for The Hangover II.  Earlier this year, Tyson’s tattoo artist sued over the use of the iconic face tattoo.  Now Louis Vuitton is suing, claiming that the bag carried by Zach Galifianakis marked LVM was a fake.  In the scene, Galifianakis says, ” “Careful, that is.. that is a Louis Vuitton.”  LV is suing under state and federal claims for unfair competition, false designation of origin, and trademark dilution. The full complaint can be read here.

December’s Notable Hirings, Firings & Promotions

December 29th, 2011

Hip-hop agent Cara Lewis is leaving William Morris Endeavor.

Vickie Nauman moved up to president of 7digital North America.

Don Ienner is working with Universal Music Group in a consultancy role.

Live Nation has been making some changes.  Alan Ostfield is now President, North Atlantic, covering the New York and Philadelphia regions.  Jason Miller is President of the New York operation, replacing Kevin Morrow, who moves to LA to join the North American Touring office as Senior Vice President.

Now-Bertelsmann exec Thomas Hesse joined the board of broadcaster RTL Group.

Bob Stohrer became CMO of Clear Channel Digital.

BMI promoted Tavi Shabestari and Nicole Plantin  to director-level positions in the Los Angeles office, with a similar promotion to Atlanta-based David Claassen.

Edgar Bronfman, Jr. is leaving his role of chairman at Warner Music Group, although he will remain a board member.

Live Nation owned BigChampagne just hired Ethan Kaplan, a music technologist and former SVP of Emerging Technology at Warner Music Group.

Former AMPAS president Sid Ganis is now working at Dolby Laboratories as a strategic advisor.

Wynton Marsalis has been named ‘Cultural Correspondent’ at CBS News.

David Foster is now chairman of UMG-owned Verve Music Group.

Master Class in Los Angeles: The Music Business NOW – How It Really Works and the People and Events that Influence It

November 2nd, 2011

This master class series brings together top executives in the music industry and is open to anyone (i.e., you don’t have to be a student to sign up). Details as follows from

 The Music Business NOW: How It Really Works and the People and Events that Influence It


The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music | Tisch School of the Arts | New York University and The Recording Academy ® presents The Music Business NOW: How It Really Works and the People and Events that Influence It.

The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music | Tisch School of the Arts | New York University and The Recording Academy ® join together to connect the best and the brightest executives in our business with the next generation of artists, managers, and marketers of recorded and live entertainment. The digital age has forced massive changes on the entertainment industry; how do you develop, distribute, and market artists and their work in this brave new world? This in-depth master class series provides perspectives on this and other vital questions from some of the most influential people in the business, as they directly address new artists’ development; branding and marketing; building and maintaining a fan base; new strategies for the Internet and wireless technologies; online and digital marketing; touring and merchandising; retail sales; music publishing; film, television, and games; radio and video promotion; and much more. It’s a basic tenet that personal relationships are crucial in any business, and this is especially true in the music industry, which is vastly influenced by a handful of key executives.

This master class series features an extensive list of guest speakers, panelists, and lecturers, enabling students to meet and interact with major players in the business. Courses will be hosted in the private, 200+-seat Ray Kurtzman Theater at Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, CA.


WHEN IS IT – Wednesdays, 7PM-10PM – from January 25, 2012 to April 25, 2012

WHERE IS IT - hosted in the 200+ seat Ray Kurtzman Theater at Creative Artists Agency, 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, CA 90067

WHO IS ELIGIBLE - This master class series is not for college credit; therefore, it is open to anyone with an interest in the music industry!

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST - $680 (*Current members in good standing with The Recording Academy® are eligible for a $100 discount on the registration fee. All Academy members claiming the promo discount will need the code provided by The Recording Academy®.)

PRIORITY REGISTRATION DEADLINE - January 18; rolling registration after January 18, pending space available


  • Irving Azoff , CEO, TicketMaster/LiveNation, manager of Christina Aguilera, Van Halen, The Eagles
  • Michael Rapino , CEO, LiveNation
  • John Branca , Senior Partner, Ziffren Brittenham & Branca, LLP, Co-Executor of the Estate of Michael Jackson
  • Rob Cavallo , CEO, Warner Bros Records, Chief Creative Officer, Warner Music Group
  • Steve Berman , Vice Chairman and President of Sales and Marketing, Interscope Records
  • Jody Gerson , Co-President, Sony/ATV Music
  • Jon Platt , President, Urban Music, EMI Music Publishing
  • Cameron Strang , President and CEO, Warner/Chappell Music
  • Tom Sturges , Executive VP, Creative, Universal Music Publishing Group
  • Gregg Sowders , Senior Vice President, Warner/Chappell Music
  • Kevin Weatherly , Program Director, KROQ and JACK-FM
  • Neil Portnow , President/CEO, The Recording Academy (GRAMMY Awards)
  • Nic Harcourt , Editor at Large, Music & Culture, Los Angeles Times
  • Rob Light , Managing Partner/Head of Music, CAA
  • Amy Doyle , Senior Vice President, Music and Talent, MTV
  • Mark Williams , Senior Vice President, A&R, Columbia Records
  • Ian Montone , CEO, Monotone Management (Jack White, The Shins, Foster The People,
  • Jim Guerinot , President, Rebel Waltz Management (No Doubt, Gwen Stefani, Social Distortion, The Offspring, Trent Reznor, Hot Hot Heat)
  • Steve Schnur , Worldwide Head Of Music, EA Videogames
  • Mark Shimmel , Head of Music, Turner Networks, Music Consultant, Kennedy Center Honors

…and more to be confirmed!


Jampol_web.jpg JEFFREY JAMPOL, President of JAM, Inc., manages rock legends The Doors, and the Estates of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Peter Tosh, and Rick James. Mr. Jampol won the 2011 GRAMMY® Award, along with Dick Wolf, as a producer of The Doors’ theatrical documentary narrated by Johnny Depp, When You’re Strange – A Film About The Doors, and was nominated for an Emmy® Award in 2010. Mr. Jampol also serves as a consultant to the Estate of Michael Jackson, and counsels managers, publishers, labels, and artists’ estates on catalog, publishing, licensing, branding, merchandise and marketing. He is a voting member of The Recording Academy®, where he sat on the Board of Governors of the Los Angeles Chapter from 2007-09, and is also a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences®.

Beer_web.jpg LENNY BEER is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of HITS Magazine and, the music industry’s most widely read trade publication. He’s also a co-founder and principal of The MGMT Company, which guides the careers of 30 Seconds to Mars, Bush, Andrew W.K., The Airborne Toxic Event, The Bravery and other acts. The Bronx native received his BA from Carnegie-Mellon and his MBA/ from NYU. Lenny has also served as producer on several theatrical productions, notably Suzan Lori-Parks’ Pulitzer-winning, Tony ®-nominated Topdog/Underdog, starring Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def, and is an active member of The Recording Academy®. An avid golfer, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife, noted producer Suzi Dietz; they have two children and two grandsons.

Rogers_web.jpg IAN ROGERS, CEO, Topspin, has been building digital media applications since 1992.  Prior to Topspin, Rogers was VP Music and Video for Yahoo, President/CTO of Mediacode, creators of an early “music in the cloud” service, President of New Media for the Beastie Boys and their Grand Royal label, and part of the Nullsoft team who created Winamp, SHOUTcast, and Gnutella.

BRUCE RESNIKOFF, President & CEO, Universal Resnikoff_web.jpgMusic Enterprises. the U.S. catalog and ancillary marketing entity for the Universal Music Group, oversees integrated marketing campaigns, direct to consumer programs, brand management initiatives and strategic partnerships. He is also one of the founders of NOW! That’s What I Call Music, the most successful U.S. music compilation series in history. Resnikoff is a member of the Executive Board of the City Of Hope’s Music & Entertainment Division and is on the Board of Directors of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation.

Dorn_web.jpg DAVID DORN, Senior Vice President, Global Sales & Digital Strategy, Rhino Entertainment (a Warner Music Group Company). Mr. Dorn oversees the digital future of Rhino’s vast and historically rich catalog of recorded masters (Aretha Franklin, Ramones, Frank Sinatra, and Led Zeppelin, among numerous others). He also oversees Rhino’s International business and is a voting member of The Recording Academy®.


Go to NYU Ticket Central, and Register NOW!


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Rolling Stone Reveals How Artists Make Money from Digital Music Services

October 26th, 2011

Rolling Stone published yesterday an article calledThe New Economics of the Music Industry.

The article details how various online music services pay artists.

The entire article is worth a read, but here are some excerpted charts that should provide a good intro understanding to the complicated landscape:

(Keep in mind two things.  First, an artist won’t see any of this money until the label has fully recouped expenses for the album.  Second, an artist may choose to partner with a company like TuneCore to distribute to these digital services and avoid the label payout all together.)


RCA Folds Arista, Jive and J Record Labels

October 17th, 2011

Somehow I missed this a couple weeks ago.  Apparently RCA imprints Arista, Jive and J have been closed, folding to become another nameless part of the large label group.  Not sure how many layoffs are connected to the changes but will report as soon as there’s word.

Event Recap: Get Your Goals!

October 7th, 2011

Last night at BMI, Women in Music hosted another event, this one was a workshop called Get Your Goals, with Jordana Jaffe, founder of Quarter Life Clarity.  Jordana gives workshops for groups of women and also meets one-on-one with clients.

Jordana explained techniques and strategies on how to get clearer on your goals and achieve them.

She outlined an 8-step path to finding clarity in goals:

(1) Identify where you’re stuck

(2) Be clear on what you want

(3) Make an easy to follow plan

(4) Imagine the end result

(5) Change your language

(6) Letting go

(7) Practicing gratitude

(8) Getting quiet

Jordana then went through each step, outlining what it means and ways to do it.

Some examples:

A good start is to ask yourself the following: “If ____________ wasn’t in my life, I would be happier.“  The blank can be a person, emotion, thing, anything really.  This is the obstacle though that you’re up against.

Create an “I Want” List. Sit down for 10 minutes and write down whatever it is you want.  Don’t censor, just let it all come out.  It could be a cup of coffee or world peace, but when you’ve finished, look over the list and look for patterns about yourself.  Often what we want is more about how we think we’re going to feel once we get that.  Focus on how you want to feel rather than what you actually want. In other words, why do you want that. There may be ways to get that feeling today, that aren’t tied to the ‘want’.

Break down the ‘wants’ into very very tiny steps.  The tiniest steps possible.  It may seem ridiculous, but it will make the tast less daunting.  As Jordana referenced throughout the event, you can’t eat an entire pie in one bite.  You take small bites in order to finish it.

Accountability partners and goal groups. Find an accountability partner who you can email once a week (or once a day, or month, whatever works) with a list of your goals for the week.   Have them hold you to them and be hard on your if you don’t reach them.  By writing down your goals and showing someone else, you’re more likely to achieve them.  Put together a Goals Group – a group of people who get together once or twice a month and discuss your goals, victories and obstacles.  They can offer ideas to help work past blocks.

Imagine the end result.  You can’t have 15 priorities.  Figure out what your top 3 priorities are and focus on those.  Create a Vision Board or Vision Box with images to help you visualize your goals.  Pinterest.comwas described as a great resource for this.

Gratitude Journal.  Every day write down 15 things you’re grateful for.

Get Quiet.  Take time to meditate or be quiet with yourself to figure out what you really want and how to get there.


La-La-Lawsuits: A Look Back on August’s Finest Litigious Moments

September 1st, 2011

Florida rapper J.R. Bricks changed the name of his song ”Waffle House” to “After the Party” after  he received a cease-and-desist letter from Waffle House, Inc.  Despite the title change, the Waffle House reference remains in the chorus.

Lady Gaga is being sued by Rebecca Francescatti who claims the singer and her producing partner stole her song, “Juda,” to create the hit “Judas.” The plaintiff says she introduced her song to her former bass player and a sound engineer who was working with Gaga.  How similar are the two tracks? You be the judge. “Juda” is available here.  Gaga’s “Judas” here.

As I wrote about in a previous post, Spotify was caught using some nasty cookies that track customers even after they’ve tried to delete the cookies. Now, the popular music streaming service that just launched in the U.S., is one of the latest targets of a class action over breaches in privacy laws stemming from their use of the cookies.

The Writers Guild of America filed a claim against Bring It On: The Musical on behalf of Jessica Bendinger, the screenwriter of the 2000 Universal film on which the new musical is based.  The confidential arbitration demand asserts that Beacon Communications Corp. and Beacon Communications, LLC are exploiting Bendinger’s dramatic rights in the cheerleader-themed Bring It On without her consent, in violation of the guild agreement’s “separated rights” provisions. It seeks damages and an injunction against Bring It On: The Musical, which is being coproduced by Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Beacon Communications and others.  Bendinger had been working on developing her own stage version of the story for the past six years and found out through the rumor mill that the show was being shopped without her involvement.

Dr. Phil and CBS have settled a lawsuit by Shirley Dieu and Crystal Matchett who alleged they were lured by promises of getting personal counseling from Dr. Phil himself, only to be locked during a 2007 filming of the show in a “mock house” on a sound stage and “forced to be in the same room with a completely naked live man while he exposed his entire naked body, genitals and all.”  Last January a California judge denied CBS’ anti-SLAPP motion and determined that the women showed a likelihood of success.  The details of the settlement have not been released.

Lindsay Lohan has sued rapper Pit Bullfor defamation and exploiting the Logan name in the song “Give Me Everything.”  The lyric at issue: “Hustlers move in silence, so I’m tiptoein’, to keep blowin’. I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan.” Lohan is seeking an injunction and damages.

Maria Menounos has been sued for defamation, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and intentional infliction of emotional distress by her former stylist, Lindsay Albanese, who claims that the ex-Access Hollywood host cost her clients by telling people she’s a thief.

20th Century Fox has won $40,000 in attorney’s fees from writer James Muller who sued the studio in 2009 claiming that the script for Alien vs. Predator infringed upon Muller’s script titled The Lost Continent.  In an order granting Fox’s motion for attorney fees, the judge gave three reasons why Muller’s claims were “frivolous and objectively unreasonable.” The stories were different, the alleged similarities were ill-conceived, and any similarities were not protectable by copyright, like stock themes.

Vampire Weekend  settled a lawsuit with model Kirsten Kennis who accused the popular indie rock band of violating her publicity rights by using an old photo of her on the 2010 Contra album cover. According to the complaint, the band obtained the photograph from the photographer, Todd Brody, who was accused of forging Kennis’s signature on the release form.  The details of the settlement are not disclosed but Kennis was seeking $2 million in damages.

Katherine Stockett, author of The Help, was awarded summary judgment in a lawsuit claiming that Stockett had based a character in the book on Ablene Cooper without her permission.  Cooper sought $75,000 in damages, but the summary judgment was granted in favor of Stockett because the one year statute of limitations had already elapsed when Cooper filed the suit.

The Throne (Jay-Z and Kanye West) are facing legal action from R&B singer Syl Johnson for allegedly not clearing a sample from Johnson’s 1967 song “Different Strokes,” which appears on the track “The Joy” on their new album, Watch the Throne.

Miles Davis‘s estate is suing a Manhattan jazz club called Miles’ Cafe for infringing his allegedly trademarked first name.

The Legality of LegalZoom

August 23rd, 2011

A Missouri class action filed in July against has settled right before heading to trial.

The suit alleged that LegalZoom’s sale of do-it-yourself wills, leases, and other contracts constitutes an illegal practice of law.  Missouri law bans non-lawyers from preparing legal documents, and many of LegalZoom’s employees are not lawyers.

Plaintiff’s counsel David Butsch made a statement last month to WSJ LawBlog:

The state licensure of attorneys was established to protect the public from those untrained and uneducated in the practice of law. [The preparation of wills and other legal documents] may seem simple to a layman, but they aren’t. There are consequences of signing a will . . .and those consequences can be great and they can’t be properly communicated by a company over the internet.

LegalZoom had made the point that by removing online contracts, acquiring basic legal forms will become much costlier for small businesses and individuals.

Does LegalZoom’s activity violate the Missouri statute?

We won’t find out from this case.  The settlement “does not involve a change or abridgement of Legal Zoom’s business practices in Missouri” but will compensate Missouri users of LegalZoom, including the 15,000 named class members.