Whoomp! (There It Is): The Importance of Contract Drafting

People often assume lawyers just use “form books” for contracts. I’m sometimes asked questions like: Don’t you just have a form for that? Can’t you just send me the standard form agreement? Can you quickly look over this agreement I did myself on the internet?

The fact is that virtually every contract involves unique circumstances. In the case of copyright transfers and licensing, contractual language can be critical. Under the Copyright Act, a written and signed document is required to transfer ownership of a copyright or to transfer exclusive rights to a copyright.

A recent case from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrates the pitfalls of an ambiguously drafted copyright transfer. Continue reading “Whoomp! (There It Is): The Importance of Contract Drafting”

Court Rules No Public Performance Fees for Ringtones

blackberry-storm-9530Recently, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that publishers are not entitled to public performance royalties for mobile phone ringtones.  See In re Cellco Partnership, 2009 WL 3294861 (2009).  For the past few years, publishers have argued that mobile phone carriers should pay copyright performance royalties when ringtones are downloaded and used by mobile phone customers.  Continue reading “Court Rules No Public Performance Fees for Ringtones”

Copyright 101: An “Old” Song Is Not Necessarily In The Public Domain

A common misconception is that all “old” songs are not protected by copyright law.  While this is certainly true in some cases, it’s important to understand that determining the length of copyright protection for any particular song is not that simple.  Copyright protection can last for a very long time.  Continue reading “Copyright 101: An “Old” Song Is Not Necessarily In The Public Domain”

Kanye’s Still Living The “Good Life”

kanye_westKanye West’s label, Universal, scored a legal victory last week in securing partial dismissal of a lawsuit concerning Kanye’s 2007 hit song “Good Life.”

Dayna Staggs, a singer and songwriter, filed a copyright infringement action in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland claiming that “Good Life” was identical in sound and melody to the chorus of Staggs’ song, “Volume of the Good Life.”  On August 14, the Court granted, in part, Universal’s request to dismiss the case.   Continue reading “Kanye’s Still Living The “Good Life””

International DJ Expo

I’ll be in Atlantic City for the International DJ Expo on Monday August 10 through Wednesday August 12. 

On Tuesday, I’ll be conducting a seminar on music copyright law:  The Top 10 Things DJs Should Know about Copyright Law.  The seminar will be at 2:30 in Diamond Room D at the Trump Taj Mahal.  I’ll also be conducting free 30 minute one-on-one legal consultations throughout the Expo. Continue reading “International DJ Expo”

Copyright 101: Creation Of A Copyright

Now that you’ve written and recorded a song, how do you protect it? How do you copyright it?

The good news is that as long as it is your original song and you’ve written it down or recorded it, the song is entitled to copyright protection. Under the Copyright Law, a song is immediately entitled to copyright protection upon the satisfaction of the following criteria:

  1. It must be an “original work[] of authorship”; and
  2. It must be fixed “in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed,” such as written sheet music or a CD, MP3, or other recording. Continue reading “Copyright 101: Creation Of A Copyright”

Is “Promotional Use Only” A Defense?

So, here’s an interesting case pending in Federal Court in Texas:  EsNtion, a dance music record label, has sued TM Studios, the maker and distributor of PrimeCuts, HitDisc, and other “Promotional Use Only” CDs, alleging copyright infringement for copying and distributing EsNtion’s songs (US District Court, Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, Civil Case No. 07-CV-2027-L). Continue reading “Is “Promotional Use Only” A Defense?”

Copyright 101: Every Recorded Song Has At Least Two Copyrights

It is a common misunderstanding that a song only has one copyright.  For anyone who creates music, uses existing music, or is otherwise involved in the music business, it is important to understand that there are actually at least 2 copyrights involved in every recorded song:  (1) the musical work copyright and (2) the sound recording copyright. Continue reading “Copyright 101: Every Recorded Song Has At Least Two Copyrights”

Welcome to DJ Counsel.com

Welcome to the DJ Counsel.com Blog.  This first post provides a brief overview of our new Blog.  Please check out this new website for more information about this Blog and other services available through this website and from entertainment and media practice of the law firm Brooks, Pierce, McLendon,  Humphrey, & Leonard, LLP.

The Blog is maintained by me, Coe Ramsey, a partner at Brooks Pierce.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, I was a DJ and re-mixer.  I continue to have a strong passion for DJing and music, and I am fortunate that I have been able to combine this passion with the practice of law.  From time to time, other members of the law firm will also contribute articles and engage in comment and discussion on the topics discussed here.

This Blog is dedicated to the discussion of general legal issues relating to the music entertainment business, with an emphasis on issues of interest to DJs, bands, producers, re-mixers, singers, songwriters, and other artists and music providers.  We encourage open discussion and comment on the issues covered here.

Blog posts will include articles on substantive areas of the law, including posts on basic music copyright law issues and issues relating to the operations of DJ businesses, bands, producers and other music businesses.  Blog posts will also cover current developments in music law and the music industry, such as developments in copyright litigation, legislation, online music usage, and new business models as the new digital delivery world evolves.

We hope that this Blog will serve as regular resource for DJs, musicians, and others in the music industry.  We welcome feedback, comments, and discussion as this Blog develops.

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