Author: Sarah Meister

A chat with Prof. Robert Lind: FAQs for bands

The blog’s editors are pleased to present this Q-and-A 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 law, as well as copyright and trademark. He worked with blog editors Sarah Meister and Tiffany Samuel, at their invitation, for this chat about frequently encountered legal issues regarding band partnerships, songwriting, publishing and recording companies. This material is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on without the assistance of a licensed attorney. Look soon, too, for Prof. Lind’s occasional posts in a new Biedermanblog occasional feature, ‘Ask the Expert ….’ Question: Regarding the use of partnership agreements by a band, is it typical in the music business for bands to incorporate?  Why or why not?  If a band did incorporate, what agreement templates would then be used to allocate rights in the band’s output? Answer:  It is my experience that bands will typically use a partnership agreement, particularly when the band members begin to get their business matters in...

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Court tosses suit for publicity right at TV shoot

  An Illinois federal judge has dismissed a class-action lawsuit seeking $1 billion in damages and brought by customers shown on the Travel Channel’s show Extreme Fast Food. Plaintiffs claimed that the Travel Channel violated their publicity rights by failing to obtain their consent to be shown while they were at the Wiener’s Circle, a popular Chicago hot dog restaurant that is “famous not just for its hot dogs but also for the abrasive nature of the staff.” Patrons, as part of their dining experience, are subjected to insulting comments.   Jennifer Zglobicki, on behalf of herself and other customers, filed the suit last August asserting a claim under Illinois’ Right of Publicity Act. She claimed that, just because she chose to eat at the restaurant at the time a reality TV show was present, she should not have to accept being filmed and later having a show broadcast with her an other bystanders to millions of people worldwide; she said there no notices of filming under way. Although Illinois law gives individuals the right to control the use of their identity for commercial purposes, this protection does not extend to noncommercial purposes such as news or public affairs related broadcasts, U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle ruled. He agreed with the Travel Channel that the use of the plaintiff’s likeness was a noncommercial use because a television show featuring a...

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Court clobbers bid to reclaim ‘Conan’ rights

Stan Lee Media Inc.  has suffered another defeat in its attempt to restore its rights to the “Conan the Barbarian” character as a court recently dismissed its lawsuit against Conan Sales Co., Paradox Entertainment and Lee’s attorney, Arthur Lieberman, among others. The eponymous enterprise argued that when Conan Sales Co. bought back the rights to the character, numerous of its shareholders (1,800) failed to receive proper notice.  The company also asserted that Lieberman made misrepresentations and failed to disclose conflicts; Stan Lee Media claimed that its interests in the proceedings were improperly represented and for these reasons sought the annulment of the transfer of rights to Conan Sales Co., later sold to Paradox Entertainment. U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that notice to shareholders was not required during the bankruptcy process but even if it was, Stan Lee Media could not show standing or harm. Further, Wilson found the company had proper representation in the bankruptcy proceedings and had failed to establish any improper action by Lieberman. Since Stan Lee Media declared bankruptcy in 2001, the company has doggedly sought to reclaim intellectual property rights that the company’s board of directors assert were fraudulently taken during bankruptcy. Assets in dispute include the characters Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four. The Second Circuit in March is scheduled to hear the company’s arguments that it has standing...

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In Australia, a win for commercial radio on fees

  The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia, a collection society representing record labels and artists, sought a declaration from a court that streaming Internet radio should not be considered a “broadcast” under Australia’s Copyright Act, and therefore, should be subject to a separate fee. The Federal Court down under, however, held that Internet simulcasts are incorporated within existing licensing agreements for traditional broadcasts. This result: dismay by labels and artists over a lost opportunity to recover more payments from streaming Internet radio stations. In deciding that a streaming Internet radio program is a “broadcast” under the Copyright Act, Justice Lindsay Foster concluded that the simultaneous transmission is “…a service which combines various delivery methods or platforms and which delivers the same radio program using the broadcasting services band.” The court, in siding with Commercial Radio Australia, has declared that Australia’s commercial radio stations will not have to pay additional royalties to artists for the online transmissions of recorded music. The head of the PPCA, Dan Rosen, was disappointed by this recent ruling but maintained that his organization “…will continue to work hard for a better deal for artists and...

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Digital tunes ‘re-seller’ gets a legal reprieve

ReDigi, a company that lets users sell “used” iTunes tracks, got a lifeline from a U.S. District Court judge, who has rejected Capitol Records’ request for a preliminary order to shutter the firm. The judge ruled that Capitol failed to show it would suffer “irreparable harm” if ReDigi continued its operations until copyright issues raised by the entertainment giant can go to trial — though the judge did indicate Capitol is likely to prevail there . The startup, launching last fall, operates by scanning a user’s hard drive to retrieve the song for sale there; its software then deletes that song from the user’s hard drive. After ReDigi’s victory, John Ossenmacher, ReDigi’s CEO, stated that “ReDigi is breaking down the barriers that have kept consumers from enjoying their intrinsic and lawful ownership rights to their digital purchases.” Although ReDigi has a verification system to discourage illegal copying of music, Ossenmacher has admitted that ReDigi has no way to ensure that users have not made copies of the songs they are selling on other hard drives. ReDigi claims that the first sale doctrine, which permits an individual to sell, display, or dispose of the particular copy of a purchased copyrighted work, allows users to resell digital tracks just like it allows users to sell physical albums. Capitol argues that the difference between ReDigi and a store selling used music is...

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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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