News

Led Zeppelin Duo Prevails in Copyright Suit

A Los Angeles jury today found Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page not guilty of copyright infringement on perhaps their most famous song, "Stairway to Heaven," CNN reports. The case centered on claims that Led Zeppelin copied key note patterns in the first two minutes of their hit from a song by the 1960s psychedelic band, Spirit.

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E-books Settlement Payments to Begin This Week

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced yesterday that Tennessee residents who purchased electronic books (e-books) could begin receiving account credits or checks this week. Payments are the result of the successful prosecution of a price-fixing case against Apple in 2013. Apple is obligated to pay $400 million in nationwide consumer compensation. Tennesseans will share $8.5 million. A toll-free number (866-686-9333) and website have been set up for consumers with questions. Read the AG's release.

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Former UT Football Player Sues SEC, NCAA

The Tennessean reports that former University of Tennessee football player O.J. Owens is suing the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA in an effort to recoup unspecified damages for the effects of head trauma he experienced during his college career. His suit is one of 10 filed in the past two months by Chicago-based law firm Edelson on behalf of former college football players. UT is not named as a defendant in the suit. 

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Nashville Lawyer Files Copyright Suit Against Pop Star Ed Sheeran

Nashville attorney Richard Busch from the firm King and Ballow is representing two California songwriters who have filed a copyright lawsuit against pop star Ed Sheeran. The songwriters, Martin Harrington and Tom Leonard, claim Sheeran ripped off their song as the basis for his hit, “Photograph.” Busch has won many landmark music copyright cases in his career, including one on behalf of Marvin Gaye’s family against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over their song “Blurred Lines.” Read more from The Tennessean

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Cities to Pay Millions in 'Jock Tax' Settlements

The city of Memphis will soon return over $2.38 million to more than 900 NBA players as part of a 2015 settlement in a suit challenging the city’s “jock tax.” The National Basketball Players Association sued the state over the tax and claimed some players paid more in the tax than what they earned from the games. The National Hockey League Players' Association also sued the state over the tax and settled in 2015 for $3.27 million. Read more from The Commercial Appeal

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Justin Bieber, Skrillex Face Nashville Copyright Suit

Pop stars Justin Bieber and Skrillex were sued in Nashville court this week for using without permission a vocal riff that singer-songwriter Casey Dienel said was hers, the Tennessean reports. Dienel, who performs under the name White Hinterland, said the Bieber and Skrillex song "Sorry" features a vocal riff in the same key and using the same notes as the riff in her song "Ring the Bell." Read more and listen to the two cuts.

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Former Vandy Football Player Sues School in Concussion Suit

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Walthour is suing the university, the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA after allegedly suffering numerous concussions during his time with the program. His suit, which includes claims of negligence and breach of contract, seeks damages for medical expenses and more. The lawsuit is one of six filed nationwide by the Houston firm Raizner Slania, Nashville Post reports

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Principal Agrees to Pre-trial Diversion

An item in Wednesday's TBAToday referenced a news story from WBIR that said that Ooltewah High School assistant principal/athletic director Allard “Jesse” Nayadley had been "sentenced" to community service for failing to report child abuse. According to his lawyer, Lee Davis, Nayadley actually had agreed to pre-trial diversion on the class A misdemeanor of failing to report. After performing the community service and 90 days of pre-trial diversion, he can have the matter expunged.

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Star Trek Copyright Suit Could Impact Software Developers

A copyright battle over of a 2014 short film’s use of Star Trek themes and Klingon – the language spoken by fictional humanoids – could impact legal disputes over programming languages. The Language Creation Society recently sided with the creators of Prelude to Axanar in an amicus brief, saying that if the language is copyrighted, then all ideas subsequently expressed in it could be too. Quartz explains how the lawsuit could impact software developers’ ability to copy codes and also outlines other cases where symbol copyrights are being debated. 

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Roundup of Bills That Alter or Reverse Earlier Actions

The Tennessean outlines five examples of bills the legislature approved this year that will alter or reverse their earlier actions. Legislative topics include wine in supermarkets, spiritual treatment and horse racing in Tennessee. 

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Fantasy Sports Now Legal in Tennessee

Gov. Bill Haslam has signed the Fantasy Sports Tax Act, which legalizes and regulates fantasy sports betting, The Times Free Press reports. The legislation (SB 2109) will create an exemption from state anti-gambling provisions. Attorney General Hebert Slatery issued a legal opinion in April declaring that fantasy sports were illegal gambling in Tennessee under existing law. Fantasy sports giants DraftKings and FanDuel hired a Nashville lobbying firm and former House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner to lobby for the legislation on their behalf. 

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In-Depth Report: Legal Disputes Plagued The Beatles

Did litigation kill the Beatles? The cover story of the May 2016 ABA Journal explores in-depth the band's legal problems that emerged from the start of their career. Lawsuits stemmed from missteps in merchandising agreements, control of creative assets and management issues, which eventually resulted in the demise of the Fab Four. The article also includes a former band manager’s court battle for George Harrison’s solo compositions and Harrison's unsuccessful attempt at fending off a copyright infringement suit. 

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Register for the Upcoming TBA Entertainment & Sports Forum 2016

The TBA Entertainment & Sports Law Section is presenting a CLE that addresses the latest developments in entertainment law on May 19 at the Belmont University College of Law Baskin Center in Nashville. 

Topics include:

  • an inside perspective on the intellectual property issues for the TV show "Nashville";
  • a primer on the emerging issues in fashion law;
  • the anatomy of an artist-management relationship with an emphasis on current challenges in the Nashville-handshake deal; and,
  • a discussion of the ethical challenges when using social media and online platforms to market your practice.

You can register online for the program.

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Redskins Seek Supreme Court Hearing in Trademark Case

The Washington Redskins filed a petition yesterday asking the U.S. supreme Court to to hear its case over its controversial trademark. The NFL team is asking for its case to be heard alongside The Slants, an Asian-American band, who wants to trademark their name. A federal appeals court ruled in favor of the band’s trademark attempt, but the government has asked the Supreme Court to overturn that ruling. The case challenges the same piece of U.S. law that the Redskins’ case does, CNN Money reports.  

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Appeals Court Upholds Brady's 'Deflategate' Suspension

A New York-based federal appeals court today ruled New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady must serve a four-game "Deflategate" suspension imposed by the NFL, CNBC reports. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season for his alleged role in a scheme to deflate footballs before the AFC Championship Game in January 2015. The suspension was overturned last September. The three-judge panel sided 2-1 with the NFL and said the discipline was “properly grounded in the collective bargaining agreement and Brady was treated fairly.”

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#BlurredLines: Copyright Vs. Creativity

Can you copyright cowbell? An article recently published in Tennessee Law dives into that question with a look at copyright legal battles, including one between writers of the 2013 hit song “Blurred Lines” and the family of Marvin Gaye. The family of the late singer claim the song infringes on the copyright of Gaye’s 1977 “Got to Give It Up.”  In the article, two University of Tennessee College of Law professors and two UT music professors discuss the case and what it means for music, artists and copyright law.

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Bill to Legalize, Tax Fantasy Sports Heads to Haslam

The Fantasy Sports Tax Act, which would legalize, regulate and tax fantasy sports betting, is on its way to Gov. Bill Haslam. The Senate signed off on the measure (SB 2109) yesterday. The legislation follows a legal opinion issued by Attorney General Hebert Slatery that said fantasy sports contests are illegal gambling. The fiscal analysis of the legislation estimates $42 million is spent annually in Tennessee on fantasy sports, The Associated Press reports

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Music Industry Lobbies Congress on Royalties

The Tennessean reports more than 200 musicians and songwriters lobbied Congress yesterday to pass legislation requiring broadcasters to compensate artists whenever AM or FM radio plays their songs. The Fair Play Fair Pay Act is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood. Radio play has traditionally been viewed as promotion and a way to drive record sales, and thus artists do not receive royalties. The National Association of Broadcasters opposes the measure.

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Entertainment and Sports Forum Set for May 19

The TBA’s annual Entertainment & Sports Forum is planned for May 19, 12:30 – 4:45 p.m., at Belmont University College of Law, Baskin Center, 1900 Belmont Blvd. in Nashville. This year’s forum, titled “Nashville: The Intersection of Television, Fashion and Music,” is approved for four CLE credits. Topics include an inside perspective on the intellectual property issues for the TV show "Nashville,” and a discussion of the ethical challenges when using social media and online platforms to market your practice. Register by May 15 to avoid a late fee. 

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AG: Fantasy Sports Are 'Illegal Gambling' in Tennessee

An opinion released today from Attorney General Hebert Slatery said all fantasy sports contests amount to “illegal gambling” in Tennessee. “The participants do not control how selected athletes perform in actuality on a given day …Thus, absent legislation specifically exempting fantasy sports contests from the definition of 'gambling,' these contests constitute illegal gambling under Tennessee law,” Slatery writes. The Tennessean reports the opinion was requested by House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.

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UT Files More Reasons to Dimiss Title IX Suit

WATE reports a judge allowed the University of Tennessee to file additional documents on a motion to dismiss a sweeping federal lawsuit against the school. The university says the plaintiffs have failed to articulate any “official policy” leading to the sexual assault cases. The move is in response to the plaintiffs citing a sexual assault case against the University of Colorado that claims the university had an “official policy” to provide women and alcohol to the high school football recruits. The UT filings also request that the university is not required to answer to “the nearly 100 paragraphs accusing unrelated individuals of crimes and other misconduct over a period of more than twenty years.” UT President Joe DiPietro today defended the safety of the campus during a board meeting, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports

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Register Today for the 135th Annual TBA Convention

Join us on June 15-18 in Nashville for the 135th Annual Convention! Registration for the 2016 TBA Convention includes:

  • free access to all TBA CLE programming;
  • the Opening Reception;
  • the Bench Bar Programming and Luncheon;
  • Law School and general breakfasts;
  • the Lawyers Luncheon;
  • the Thursday evening Joint (TBA/TLAW/TABL) Reception;
  • the Thursday night dinner and entertainment at the George Jones Museum;
  • and the Friday night Dance Party.

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Volunteers Needed for Nashville Arts & Entertainment Law Clinic

Volunteers are needed for the Nashville Arts & Entertainment Law Clinic that will be held Saturday, April 23, 10 a.m. to noon at the Church of the Redeemer in Green Hills, 920 Caldwell Lane, The event is co-sponsored by the TBA Entertainment & Sports Law Section and the Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals for the Arts.  Attorneys interested in volunteering should contact Casey Summar at 615-460-8274.

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Fantasy Sports Regulation Bill Advances

A Senate panel signed off Wednesday on a bill that would create an advisory task force to oversee fantasy sports websites, such as FanDuel and Draft Kings. The two major fantasy sports companies were accused last year of insider trading. The proposed nine-member force would be able to recommend any necessary statutory revisions to the state’s consumer protection laws, The Tennessean reports. The bill, presented by Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, now heads to the the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

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Peyton Manning Cited in UT Sexual Assault Suit

Peyton Manning was cited in the federal lawsuit filed last week by six anonymous women against the University of Tennessee. The suit claims Manning exposed himself on a female athletic trainer in 1996 while he was the university’s star quarterback. Manning claimed he was “mooning” another athlete in the room. The trainer resigned from her job, sued the university and settled out of court. Manning and UT have not responded to the allegations outlined in the suit. Read more from CBS.

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