Event: April 30 – The Business of Songwriting: Enhanced Music Publishing Made Simple

April 15th, 2013

Enhanced Music Publishing Made Simple is a workshop that informs independent songwriters and composers about how to monetize their original music in the new, changing digital marketplace. Taught by pro-songwriter and Berklee grad AmandaWilliams, Enhanced Music Publishing Made Simple covers what happens to your property (your songs) when you enter a publishing deal, answers common questions about licensing, royalties, contracts and collections, and provides food for thought about how to structure your independent songwriting business to suit your own needs. The workshop also discusses the exclusive rights related to your original songs (your copyrights) and shows you how those rights correspond to a particular royalty stream. Topics include:

  • ·         Copyrights – what are they & how do they correspond to royalties
  • ·         Publishing – what is the role of a publisher in the new market place
  • ·         Industry basics – terminology, common practices, & what to avoid
  • ·         Catalogue management – establishing good practices & habits


Amanda Williams is a Grammy nominated songwriter, performer, educator and philanthropist. A magna cum laude MusicBusiness from Berklee College of Music, she has had songs recorded by Garth Brooks, George Jones, Tyler Dickerson, Alecia Nugent, Jessie James and more. Her philanthropic work has led her to perform for the likes of Ambassador Andrew Young, President Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey. Amanda founded her own enhanced music publishing company in 2010 to provide education and mentoring to aspiring songwriters of all ages. To learn more about Amanda, visit songwritingandmusicbusiness.com or amandawilliamsmusic.com.


Women in Music is a dynamic group of individuals in music working together to support, cultivate and recognize the talents ofwomen in our field. Through educational seminars, panels, workshops, networking events, showcases, our annual Touchstone Awards, and other gala events, we provide camaraderie and tools for advancement to hundreds of members in all areas of music.

Tinderbox Arts produces music events, showcases, and workshops– most notably among them being the Tinderbox MusicFestival, which showcases emerging female artists producing innovative original music while giving back to NYC nonprofits empowering young women through the arts. In its three years, Tinderbox has brought CocoRosie, Jean Grae, Holly Miranda, Bitch, and Jenny Owen Youngs to its stages; partnered with Converse, Time Out New York, ASCAP, Red Bull Soundstage; and received press from The New York Times, Billboard, The New Yorker, and Glamour.


Curated by singer-songwriter Eleanor Dubinsky, an enthusiastic member of Women in Music and a Tinderbox Arts artist.


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

March 1st, 2013

Lindsay Lohan lost her lawsuit against hip hop artist Pit Bull, which claimed that the line “.. I got it locked up, like Lindsay Lohan” in Pit Bull’s song “Give Me Everything” was a violation of her rights of publicity and caused emotional distress.  The court dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that NY Civil Rights law didn’t apply here because the song is a work of art and also is protected under the First Amendment. Additionally, the court held that her name wasn’t used for purposes of trade or advertising, which could trigger infringement of Lohan’s right of publicity, and the fact that her name was only in one line would also give cause for her losing.

Songwriter Jay Livingston (“Silver Bells,” “Mona Lisa,” “Whatever Will Be, Will Be”) is suing Warner Music for breaching their publishing administration contract by wrongfully withholding royalties and not complying with audit requirements under the contract.

Another royalty dispute… RZA, front man of the Wu Tang Clan, is seeking a court declaration that the 2010 Kanye West song he produced, “Dark Fantasy,” does not infringe the recording copyrights held by JVC Kenwood Holdings.  RZA’s label, Island Def Jam, was withheld more than $50,000 in royalties based on the accusations by JVC Kenwood that “Dark Fantasy” contains a sample from one of their works.

La-la-lawsuits: A Look at November’s Most Litigious Moments

December 1st, 2012

Pandora is suing ASCAP, one of the largest performance rights organizations, to implement lower statutory rates for songwriters.  Pandora has called the current rates as “ill suited and not reasonable”.  The major problem with this suit is that publishers, on the other hand, are trying to drive statutory rates up, not down.  This is because Pandora currently pays record labels over ten times more on a song play than they do to publishers and songwriters.  Furthermore, Sony/ATV isn’t making the suit easier for Pandora, since after recently acquiring EMI’s publishing catalog, Sony/ATV is pushing for their own independent royalty rates.  This move by Sony/ATV is yet another reason why Pandora is pushing so hard to lower the rates.

A 2006 divorce between Tory Burch and Chris Burch has turned into a legal battle between the two, totally unrelated to any actual marital issues.  In October 2011, Chris had opened up his own store, C Store, that is more affordable than the Tory Burch company line.  However, the C Store’s appearance and inventory look a little too similar to the Tory Burch company’s merchandise and stores.  Meanwhile, both Tory and Chris still own stake in the popular clothing line company.  Mr. Burch filed a complaint earlier this month accusing Tory of delaying the sale of his shares of the Tory Burch company, along with other accusations regarding inappropriate board behavior (a breach of fiduciary duties).  Tory answered the complaint with various counterclaims, including accusations that he is stealing the company’s trade secrets.  The bottom line issue is whether the existence of C Wonder will negatively effect the value of the Tory Burch company.  We will have to wait and see.

The Talent Agencies Act (TAA) in California is under attack by former personal managers of various stars.  The TAA states that only licensed agents can procure employment for their clients.  It was further decided that this restriction applies not only to talent agents, but personal managers, as well.  In mid-November, The National Conference of Personal Managers (NCOPM) sued the CA governor, attorney general, and labor commissioner, claiming that the TAA is entirely unconstitutional and that is violates “due process, equal protection, involuntary servitude, and interferes with interstate commerce and free speech”.  Essentially, clients can fire their managers and refuse to pay any commission to them because they weren’t licensed and technically not legally employable under the TAA.

Hurricane Sandy left quite a path of destruction, not only physically, but now also legally.  New York resident, Irwin Bard, and his son are suing Cablevision for $250 million for non-existent cable, Internet, and phone services during the time of the power outages.  Bard demands a rebate to all customers who were affected by this unfair charge.  Cablevison assured their customers, however, that anyone who was overcharged can visit the Cablevision website and ask for a credit back.  However, the issue is whether this should be automatic versus an “opt-in” action.  The case is still undecided as of now.


Event Tomorrow: Future of Music Coalition Summit

November 12th, 2012

The annual conference regarding the future of the music industry and how to prepare for it is this Tuesday, November 13 in Washington, D.C.  The panels cover a wide range of topics like cutting edge issues in IP law, new revenue streams for artists, and changes in the digital world that effect the music industry.  Registration is closed and the event is at capacity, but you can email waitlist@futureofmusic.org to be put on the waiting list.  You can also watch a live webcast of the event here.   For the full schedule and more information, check out the official website here.  

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

February 28th, 2012

Paul Tarascio, former stage manager of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” has sued Jimmy Fallon for gender discrimination, claiming that after he was fired in 2010 he replaced by a “totally incompetent woman.”

Sister Sledge is suing Warner Music Group in an attempt to re-categorize digital sales as licenses, a change that could mean millions in extra royalties.

Kenny Rogers is also suing his label, Capitol/EMI, over the issue of digital royalty calculations as well as false accounting.  His suit additionally alleges that Rogers received no compensation following EMI’s successful settlements with Limewire, Grokster, and Napster.  For a full description of Rogers’ claims against Capitol, check out this Digital Music News article.

An anti-merger lawsuit was filed against SAG and its officers, alleging that that proposal to merge the two unions omits “necessarily due diligence” and is “deceptive.”  The merger would merge the unions, but not the pension and health plans, which are legally separate entities. Plaintiffs include Martin Sheen, Edward Asner, Ed Harris, Valerie Harper, Nancy Sinatra, former guild president Alan Rosenberg and current board members Anne-Marie Johnson and David Jolliffe.

A federal judge rejected a lawsuit brought by Michael Jordan against Jewel-Osco for a congratulatory ad the company ran when Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame three years ago.  The court rejected Jordan’s argument that the ad infringed upon his trademark and instead determined that the advertisement was “noncommercial speech,” protected by the First Amendment, and that there was no indication of a “commercial transaction” in the ad.

Paramount Pictures has sued the estate of Mario Puzo, author of the book The Godfather on which the iconic films are based.  The estate released sequels to the book in 2004 and 2006 and is set to release another one later this year.  Paramount is seeking damages and preliminary and permanent injunctions to stop the sequel’s release, arguing that the sequels violate its trademark and copyright interests in the Godfather franchise and story.

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.

SCOTUS Holds §104A of Copyright Act Constitutional

January 20th, 2012

The Supreme Court of the United States published a decision yesterday regarding the constitutionality of section 104A of the US Copyright Act.  In order to comply with the Berne Convention, 17 USC 104A was revised in 1994 to restore the copyrights in foreign works that were previously not protected in the United States because they did not meet the US formalities of copyright protection (such as copyright renewal or proper copyright notice) or because of a lack of an international treaty between the US and the work’s country of origin.  As a general rule (with exceptions, of course), the works had to be protected in their country of origin as of Jan. 1, 1996, but if they were, they were automatically granted protection in the US, “restoring” them to a protected state and removing them from the public domain.  Controversy arose because one year following the “restoration,” royalty payments and derivative work restrictions would be imposed on anyone using the works, even if their use originated before the restoration of copyright.  In Golan v. Gonzales, the section was challenged as a violation of the Copyright and Patent clause (Article I, §8, Clause 8) as well as the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.  In a 6-2 vote, the majority opinion by Justice Ginsberg found that section 104A, as amended by section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreement Act in 1994, is constitutional and did not exceed Congress’ authority under the Copyright Clause.

The Supreme Court syllabus (or read the full 69 page decision here):







No. 10–545. Argued October 5, 2011—Decided January 18, 2012

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne), which took effect in 1886, is the principal accord governing international copyright relations. Berne’s 164 member states agree to provide a minimum level of copyright protection and to treat authors from other member countries as well as they treat their own. Of central importance in this case, Article 18 of Berne requires countries to protect the works of other member states unless the works’ copyright term has expired in either the country where protection is claimed or the country of origin. A different system of transnational copyright protection long prevailed in this country. Throughout most of the 20th century, the only foreign authors eligible for Copyright Act protection were those whose countries granted reciprocal rights to American authors and whose works were printed in the United States. Despite Article 18, when the United States joined Berne in 1989, it did not protect any foreign works lodged in the U. S. public domain, many of them works never protected here. In 1994, howev- er, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights mandated implementation of Berne’s first 21 articles, on pain of enforcement by the World Trade Organization.

In response, Congress applied the term of protection available to U. S. works to preexisting works from Berne member countries. Sec- tion 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) grants copyright protection to works protected in their country of origin, but lacking protection in the United States for any of three reasons: The United States did not protect works from the country of origin at the time of publication; the United States did not protect sound record- ings fixed before 1972; or the author had not complied with certain U. S. statutory formalities. Works encompassed by §514 are granted the protection they would have enjoyed had the United States main- tained copyright relations with the author’s country or removed formalities incompatible with Berne. As a consequence of the barriers to U. S. copyright protection prior to §514’s enactment, foreign works “restored” to protection by the measure had entered the public do- main in this country. To cushion the impact of their placement in protected status, §514 provides ameliorating accommodations for parties who had exploited affected works before the URAA was enacted.

Petitioners are orchestra conductors, musicians, publishers, and others who formerly enjoyed free access to works §514 removed from the public domain. They maintain that Congress, in passing §514, exceeded its authority under the Copyright Clause and transgressed First Amendment limitations. The District Court granted the Attorney General’s motion for summary judgment. Affirming in part, the Tenth Circuit agreed that Congress had not offended the Copyright Clause, but concluded that §514 required further First Amendment inspection in light of Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U. S. 186. On remand, the District Court granted summary judgment to petitioners on the First Amendment claim, holding that §514’s constriction of the public domain was not justified by any of the asserted federal interests. The Tenth Circuit reversed, ruling that §514 was narrowly tailored to fit the important government aim of protecting U. S. copyright holders’ interests abroad.


1. Section 514 does not exceed Congress’ authority under the Copy- right Clause. Pp. 13–23.

(a) The text of the Copyright Clause does not exclude application of copyright protection to works in the public domain. Eldred is largely dispositive of petitioners’ claim that the Clause’s confinement of a copyright’s lifespan to a “limited Tim[e]” prevents the removal of works from the public domain. In Eldred, the Court upheld the Cop- yright Term Extension Act (CTEA), which extended, by 20 years, the terms of existing copyrights. The text of the Copyright Clause, the Court observed, contains no “command that a time prescription, once set, becomes forever ‘fixed’ or ‘inalterable,’ ” and the Court declined to infer any such command. 537 U. S., at 199. The construction peti- tioners tender here is similarly infirm. The terms afforded works re- stored by §514 are no less “limited” than those the CTEA lengthened. Nor had the “limited Tim[e]” already passed for the works at issue here—many of them works formerly denied any U. S. copyright protection —for a period of exclusivity must begin before it may end. Pe- titioners also urge that the Government’s position would allow Congress to legislate perpetual copyright terms by instituting successive “limited” terms as prior terms expire. But as in Eldred, such hypothetical misbehavior is far afield from this case. In aligning the United States with other nations bound by Berne, Congress can hardly be charged with a design to move stealthily toward a perpetual copyright regime. Pp. 13–15.

(b) Historical practice corroborates the Court’s reading of the Copy right Clause to permit the protection of previously unprotected works. In the Copyright Act of 1790, the First Congress protected works that had been freely reproducible under State copyright laws. Subsequent actions confirm that Congress has not understood the Copyright Clause to preclude protection for existing works. Several private bills restored the copyrights and patents of works and inventions previously in the public domain. Congress has also passed generally applicable legislation granting copyrights and patents to works and inventions that had lost protection. Pp. 15–19.

(c) Petitioners also argue that §514 fails to “promote the Progress of Science” as contemplated by the initial words of the Copyright Clause. Specifically, they claim that because §514 affects only works already created, it cannot meet the Clause’s objective. The creation of new works, however, is not the sole way Congress may promote “Science,” i.e., knowledge and learning. In Eldred, this Court rejected a nearly identical argument, concluding that the Clause does not demand that each copyright provision, examined discretely, operate to induce new works. Rather the Clause “empowers Congress to determine the intellectual property regimes that, overall, in that body’s judgment, will serve the ends of the Clause.” 537 U. S., at 222. Nothing in the text or history of the Copyright Clause, moreover, confines the “Progress of Science” exclusively to “incentives for creation.” Historical evidence, congressional practice, and this Court’s decisions, in fact, suggest that inducing the dissemination of existing works is an appropriate means to promote science. Pp. 20–22.

(d) Considered against this backdrop, §514 falls comfortably within Congress’ Copyright Clause authority. Congress had reason to believe that a well-functioning international copyright system would encourage the dissemination of existing and future works. And tes- timony informed Congress that full compliance with Berne would expand the foreign markets available to U. S. authors and invigorate protection against piracy of U. S. works abroad, thus benefitting copyright-intensive industries stateside and inducing greater investment in the creative process. This Court has no warrant to reject Congress’ rational judgment that exemplary adherence to Berne would serve the objectives of the Copyright Clause. Pp. 22–23.

2. The First Amendment does not inhibit the restoration authorized by §514. Pp. 23–32.

(a) The pathmarking Eldred decision is again instructive. There, the Court held that the CTEA’s enlargement of a copyright’s duration did not offend the First Amendment’s freedom of expression guaran- tee. Recognizing that some restriction on expression is the inherent and intended effect of every grant of copyright, the Court observed that the Framers regarded copyright protection not simply as a limit on the manner in which expressive works may be used, but also as an “engine of free expression.” 537 U. S., at 219. The “traditional contours” of copyright protection, i.e., the “idea/expression dichotomy” and the “fair use” defense, moreover, serve as “built-in First Amendment accommodations.” Ibid. Given the speech-protective purposes and safeguards embraced by copyright law, there was no call for the heightened review sought in Eldred. The Court reaches the same conclusion here. Section 514 leaves undisturbed the idea/expression distinction and the fair use defense. Moreover, Congress adopted measures to ease the transition from a national scheme to an international copyright regime. Pp. 23–26.

(b) Petitioners claim that First Amendment interests of a higher order are at stake because they—unlike their Eldred counterparts— enjoyed “vested rights” in works that had already entered the public domain. Their contentions depend on an argument already consid- ered and rejected, namely, that the Constitution renders the public domain largely untouchable by Congress. Nothing in the historical record, subsequent congressional practice, or this Court’s jurisprudence warrants exceptional First Amendment solicitude for copyrighted works that were once in the public domain. Congress has several times adjusted copyright law to protect new categories of works as well as works previously in the public domain. Section 514, moreover, does not impose a blanket prohibition on public access. The question is whether would-be users of certain foreign works must pay for their desired use of the author’s expression, or else limit their exploitation to “fair use” of those works. By fully implementing Berne, Congress ensured that these works, like domestic and most other foreign works, would be governed by the same legal regime. Section 514 simply placed foreign works in the position they would have occupied if the current copyright regime had been in effect when those works were created and first published. Pp. 26–30.

609 F. 3d 1076, affirmed.

GINSBURG, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined. KA- GAN, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

The Obama Administration Speaks Out Against SOPA

January 17th, 2012

The White House has released an official statement by Victoria Espinel, Aneesh Chopra, and Howard Schmid in response to petitions again SOPA and the E-Parasite Act.

Full text below:

Official White House Response to Stop the E-PARASITE Act. and 1 other petition

Combating Online Piracy while Protecting an Open and Innovative Internet

By Victoria Espinel, Aneesh Chopra, and Howard Schmidt

Thanks for taking the time to sign this petition. Both your words and actions illustrate the importance of maintaining an open and democratic Internet.

Right now, Congress is debating a few pieces of legislation concerning the very real issue of online piracy, including the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the PROTECT IP Act and the Online Protection and Digital ENforcement Act (OPEN). We want to take this opportunity to tell you what the Administration will support—and what we will not support. Any effective legislation should reflect a wide range of stakeholders, including everyone from content creators to the engineers that build and maintain the infrastructure of the Internet.

While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.

Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small. Across the globe, the openness of the Internet is increasingly central to innovation in business, government, and society and it must be protected. To minimize this risk, new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity. Any provision covering Internet intermediaries such as online advertising networks, payment processors, or search engines must be transparent and designed to prevent overly broad private rights of action that could encourage unjustified litigation that could discourage startup businesses and innovative firms from growing.

We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.

Let us be clear—online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, and threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and hurts some of our nation’s most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs.  It harms everyone from struggling artists to production crews, and from startup social media companies to large movie studios. While we are strongly committed to the vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights, existing tools are not strong enough to root out the worst online pirates beyond our borders. That is why the Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders while staying true to the principles outlined above in this response.  We should never let criminals hide behind a hollow embrace of legitimate American values.

This is not just a matter for legislation. We expect and encourage all private parties, including both content creators and Internet platform providers working together, to adopt voluntary measures and best practices to reduce online piracy.

So, rather than just look at how legislation can be stopped, ask yourself: Where do we go from here? Don’t limit your opinion to what’s the wrong thing to do, ask yourself what’s right. Already, many of members of Congress are asking for public input around the issue. We are paying close attention to those opportunities, as well as to public input to the Administration. The organizer of this petition and a random sample of the signers will be invited to a conference call to discuss this issue further with Administration officials and soon after that, we will host an online event to get more input and answer your questions. Details on that will follow in the coming days.

Washington needs to hear your best ideas about how to clamp down on rogue websites and other criminals who make money off the creative efforts of American artists and rights holders. We should all be committed to working with all interested constituencies to develop new legal tools to protect global intellectual property rights without jeopardizing the openness of the Internet. Our hope is that you will bring enthusiasm and know-how to this important challenge.

Moving forward, we will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis on legislation that provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy and counterfeiting, while vigorously defending an open Internet based on the values of free expression, privacy, security and innovation. Again, thank you for taking the time to participate in this important process. We hope you’ll continue to be part of it.

Victoria Espinel is Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at Office of Management and Budget

Aneesh Chopra is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President and Associate Director for Technology at the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Howard Schmidt is Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security Staff

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.