Author: Sarah Meister

JOBS Act offers filmmakers financing options

President Obama has signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, laws making it easier for startup firms to raise capital. The act will allow small businesses, such as production companies, to take part in internet “crowd funding,” raising capital by soliciting investments from others online. Unlike, which permits filmmakers to seek donations and gifts, the JOBS Act allows them to raise up to $1 million in equity investments from the general public without following current security regulations. Filmmakers have found it difficult to finance  projects in both public and private offerings: Public offerings require SEC approval and the registration can be tedious and expensive (costing hundreds of thousands of dollars); private offerings, which generally prohibit advertising, are less pricey, though crafting a Private Placement Memorandum can still exceed $25,000. Entertainment law blogger Mark Litwak’s offers his take on the JOBS Act...

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Ask an Expert: Perfect pitching of ideas

Q: I have a potential client who has come up with a fantastic slogan-design for a guitar manufacturer-retailer. Can I ethically disclose the idea to you? Second, should we first attempt to register the copyright then pitch the idea? How can I effectively reach out to a company like Guitar Center to pitch the idea?  A: Because it is an idea, it cannot be registered with the Copyright Office.  You can register it with the Writers Guild.  That will provide a provable date certain. As for dealing with Guitar Center, you might try speaking with the manager of a local store and ask the manager to check with the home office as to who you should speak to.  Another approach is to contact its headquarters and ask to speak with someone in marketing.  Introduce yourself as an attorney and request a meeting. The blog’s editors are pleased to present this Ask the Expert with Robert C. Lind, the Director Emeritus of the Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute and a Professor of Law at Southwestern. A former semi-professional musician, he has combined his interest in the arts and law to become an expert in several aspects of entertainment, media and intellectual property law. A prolific writer, he is the author or coauthor of widely used casebooks, treatises and study guides on entertainment law, art law, museum law, and media...

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In radio royalties rulings, Aussie, U.S. static

Matt Haddad, who recently completed the Web 2.0 and Entertainment Law miniterm, contributed to this post. Artists, labels and entertainment lawyers in Australia have expressed frustration over a recent court ruling Down Under on payments for music played on the radio, even as their Yankee counterparts still are scratching their heads and smarting over U.S. appellate actions earlier this year that may have resolved a possible legal donnybrook on broadcast royalties but arguably also took cash out of the pockets of those on the creative side. The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia most recently lost a High Court decision on the validity of the 1 percent royalty cap for radio broadcasters. The High Court last week declared constitutionally valid that cap, which the rights group denounced because it said it kept artists from receiving a fair price for use of sound recordings; the cap, effectively, allowed commercial radio stations to undervalue  content they provide. The cap was imposed in 1969 under the Copyright Act and limits sums that Australia’s commercial radio stations must pay to artists and labels to not more than 1 percent of broadcasters’ annual gross income. Dan Rosen, chief of the rights group, called for changing the cap and said he and others would appeal “to all members of Parliament to support artists and make the necessary change to the Copyright Act … because there is...

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A European jam on who pays to play music

Go figure: It’s clear that there’s plenty of confusion to go around for those who might imagine that courts help society sort out its laws in some kind of common sense way. Just look at a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice, declaring that hoteliers now must pay royalties for broadcasting music in guest rooms. At the same time, though, the court handed down a separate ruling that exempted dentists from paying royalties for the music played in their offices. European copyright law requires that royalties be paid to collection societies for the use of copyrighted music “in communication with the public.” Private use of copyrighted music is not subject to this requirement. This approach led the European Court to decide Irish hoteliers  no longer are exempt from paying royalties for providing radios and TVs in guest rooms; they previously were understood to be private spaces. The action brought by Phonographic Performance Ireland Ltd, an Irish performing rights society, sought declaration that the exemption in Ireland was a breach of EU law. The European Court agreed and found that music is broadcasted to an “indeterminate number of potential listeners” for a “profit-making nature” in a hotel, therefore, use of copyrighted music in a hotel guest room should be considered “public” when evaluating royalties. The court found that, by providing TV broadcasts and radios in guest rooms, hoteliers...

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With foes aplenty, ‘Irish SOPA’ now is law

Ireland has signed a new bill into law, the so-called “Irish SOPA,” despite extensive objection, including numerous protests across Ireland and 80,000 signatories to an Internet petition opposing the legislation. The Irish government, which was sued by EMI earlier this year for the delay in passing a SOPA-like law requiring ISP censorship, has now made its move. Sean Sherlock, the Irish Minister for Research and Innovation, has taken heed of the recent rulings from the EU Court of Justice by limiting the original proposal and not requiring ISPs to be proactive in the censorship and blocking of websites containing infringing content. Instead, the recent legislation will allow copyright holders to petition the forced blockage of websites by ISPs, as recently exemplified by major record labels and studios in Europe. Sherlock also addressed his goal of “removing barriers to innovation” by commencing the “next stage” of reviewing copyright in Ireland, apparently to appease the dismayed citizens after the signing of this controversial law. This review of copyright law in Ireland was first discussed last year after the realization that the country’s current copyright law was stifling innovation. In a recent post on Techdirt, author Mike Masnick addresses the incongruity in enacting this bill that interferes with using the Internet as a “platform that enables new business models,” and Ireland’s aim at increasing innovation. Masnick’s advice: setting up a censorship regime...

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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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