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On Demand

Legal Fundamentals of the Music Business: 2016 Update

1h 2m

Created on October 03, 2016



In this update to Steven Gordon's original course, attorneys Steven Gordon and Robert Clarida address two distinct and highly relevant hypothetical situations in the music business:

Part I

Johnny Rocker just got an offer from 2nd Server Records, a digital record company. Although they are a small label 2nd Server has had several big successes with alternative rock acts who are getting rave reviews in the leading music blogs and are making a decent living from touring as well as selling records online. Johnny is seeking an attorney because 2nd Server wants him to sign a recording contract. He doesn't understand all the terms and he doesn't know what is standard. 2nd Server not only wants him to grant to them the copyright in his recordings, they also want the copyrights in his songs. In return they will pay him a retail royalty on record sales and 50% of any income from his songs. He is hesitant about granting the copyright in his songs because he has been earning performance royalties from his PRO, ASCAP, from college radio play, and is hesitant to give up 50% of those monies. They also want the right to trademark his name and keep 25% of any other monies he makes in the entertainment business including merchandise with his name. Will you be able to help him negotiate his deal?

Part II

DJ Biz Music released a song named "My Life" in January 2008. He hears a song on the radio by a top female recording artist in 2016 including a "hook" that sounds identical to the heart of his song. What are his options?

Learning Objectives: 

Part I 

  1. Grasp copyright law's applicability to the music business

  2. Identify the fundamentals of music licensing, including the roles of, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, Harry Fox, and Sound Exchange

  3. Understand role of the music lawyer including transactional work and opening up opportunities for clients

  4. Become familiar with Basic Music contracts, including: manager deals, recording agreements, and music publisher and songwriter agreements

  5. Recognize how to register copyrights and trademarks for various mediums and parties
  6. Comprehend new rules and recent cases related to the digital distribution of music
Part II 
  1. Address the nuances of music business copyright infringement litigation

  2. Appreciate the basic elements of determining copyright infringement in the context of the music business

  3. Discuss the details and impact of the "Blurred Lines" case

  4. Consider the details and impact of the "Led Zeppelin" case

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