Author: Kyle Rambeau

Sides square off at symposium on college sports

There was plenty of blocking, tackling, whistle-blowing, foul calling, arguments and more this weekend at Southwestern Law School.  And, no, the 100-year-old institution didn’t suddenly put together on-campus athletics. It did host the Collegiate Sports Law Symposium, at which there were at least four heated conversations on the business of amateur sports as it occurs today.  Prominent experts served as panelists and visitors from all over, well, they all were ready to engage in hot debates on public perceptions of collegiate athletes, athletics and the legal issues that affect them — from preps to pros — and the complications...

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Digital royalties dispute takes a funkier step

After the Supreme Court rejected a reconsideration of an appellate decision that raised legal questions about the digital royalties owed to recording artists of yore, the estate of the funk performer Rick James potentially has opened what many analysts had predicted might be a litigation flood, filing its suit against giant Universal Music Group over its payments for digital downloads and ringtones. Since the James complaint was filed as a federal class action, any musical artist with related claims might join in and take part in any potential recovery. Just who might be a party in the action, of course, will be determined by the courts, starting with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, where the James action was filed. That court must consider and approve the class status and determine how it will be defined. Universal has said this current round of digital royalty disputes affects its dealings with only one artist: Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, who, with F.B.T. Productions (which discovered him) prevailed recently in litigation with Universal over digital royalties in a case decided by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and left undisturbed by the Supreme Court. The economic stakes in this litigation could be huge, with a prominent music entrepreneur based at a well-known music school estimating for the Future of Music group that the disputed and unpaid royalties could amount to more...

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A new argument on economics of file-sharing

Two academics at the London School of Economics have published a notable work “Creative Destruction and Copyright Protection: Regulatory Responses to File-sharing.” Bart Cammaerts and Bingchun Meng, both lecturers, scrutinize the economics of file-sharing and music and argue that file-sharing is not the cause of the industry’s financial doldrums. Instead, they say the decline can be attributed to an overall decrease in consumer consumption of entertainment products, leisure activities and the way people consume their music. They offer ideas on how to stimulate music  industry growth. Their paper criticizes the Digital Economy Act (DEA) as cost ineffective and troublesome with many people believing it crosses the line in privacy terms, especially as it allows for tracking individuals’ IP addresses: The DEA gets the balance between copyright enforcement and innovation wrong. The use of peer-to-peer technology should be encouraged to promote innovative applications. Focusing on efforts to suppress the use of technological advances and to protect out-of-date business models will stifle innovation in this industry. Although statistics show a decade of dramatic declines of recorded music sales, the authors say there is no conclusive evidence file-sharing is the sole or even a central cause for this slide. These statistics also fail to note, they say, that, although recorded music sales are down, sums earned from live performances are increasing and finally surpassed revenue earned by recorded music: In 2009 revenues from...

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‘Oh, Really?’ Gray ethics in ‘Lincoln Lawyer’

In ‘Oh, Really?’ the Biederman Blog’s editors — voracious consumers of all matters pop culture — cast a curious, skeptical, fun and smart end-of-the-week eye on popular productions, sharing their keen observations about legal matters these raise. In The Lincoln Lawyer, Lionsgate’s sly and appealing legal thriller, Matthew McConaughey plays the crafty, hustling defense attorney Mickey Haller (a character created by best-selling author Michael Connelly a one-time Los Angeles scribe). Mickey carries out most of his legal work from the backseat of his Lincoln town car (explaining the movie’s title) and seems to defend clients chiefly on their capacity to put up cash. This gives him a clientele of assorted dirt-bags and drug addicts but also happens to land him what he first thinks may be the case of a lifetime: He’s asked to defend Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe), the scion of a dripping in wealth Beverly Hills family, against a rape charge. While the case looks easy at the start, it fast slips into the iffy for Mickey and his investigator (William H. Macy) after Roulet lies about crime-scene evidence but maintains his innocence. Mickey soon discovers evidence that ties Roulet to a murder that sent another of  the attorney’s clients (Michael Pena) to prison. This thrusts Mickey’s professional ethics into a tailspin. Should he violate his personal ethics and the Model Rules of Professional Conduct by disclosing...

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High court snubs appeal, dings record industry

The Supreme Court has  slammed the door on Universal Music Group and the recording industry in its bid to prevent a big pay-out to Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem), and, many say, opened the door for further legal negotiation and potential litigation by other recording artists whose songs and ringtones are distributed digitally on iTunes and other online distribution services. The Supreme Court, in declining Universal’s appeal, left standing a September, 2010, ruling by the Ninth District appellate court adverse to not only the company but, analysts have said, the industry, too. The appellate court had been asked to decide if contracts’ provisions on “Records Sold” or “Masters Licensed” set royalty rates for sales of Eminem’s music as permanent downloads and master-tones.  The court decided Mather’s contracts were unambiguous, finding, in effect, that licensing provisions should pay a 50% royalty rate, not the 18%-23% that had prevailed commonly in the trade.  Because digital music sales have become the central means by which consumers buy music now, the higher court rulings will prompt big, costly changes in the music industry, analysts say, readjusting royalties due artists by their industry. This more will affect big-selling recording veterans, whose contracts were struck before the digital age but also may empower artists with greater bargaining powers, some say. Universal insists the case affects only Mathers and sets no...

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Entertainment Law Blogs

The Biederman Blog is now ranked NUMBER ONE on Feedspot's Top 20 Entertainment Law blogs (May 2018). It is very exciting to top this list. We are extra proud of number six - Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Mr. Firemark graduated from Southwestern in 1992, and is a top entertainment blogger and webinar presenter in addition to being a world class entertainment attorney!

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