News

Nashville Law Firm Opens Entertainment Law Practice

Stites & Harbison PLLC is starting a new Nashville-based entertainment law practice, bringing on Stephanie Taylor as a partner from Bone McAllester Norton PLLC to lead the new practice, Nashville Business Journal reports. Taylor serves on the board of the Foundation for Bluegrass Music and the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Stites & Harbison currently employs 28 attorneys in its Nashville office, making it the sixth-largest law firm in Nashville, according to the Nashville Business Journal. Bone McAllester recently added Suzanne Kessler to its entertainment law practice. 

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Entertainment Law Firm Moving to Music Row

Nashville entertainement firm Keller Turner Ruth Andrews Ghanem and Heller PLLC is under contract to buy a two-story office building on Music Row, Nashville Business Journal reports. Neighbors near the property include RCA recording studios, some offices for Sony/ATV Music Publishing and a proposed luxury hotel operated by Richard Branson's Virgin Group Ltd. "We're excited. With us being an entertainment firm, it's a natural fit,” said Jason Turner, one of the firm’s founding partners. The firm, with clients including OneRepublic and the Backstreet Boys, is currently located in the Terrazzo tower in the Gulch.

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Nashville Judge Throws Out Athletes’ ‘Pay for Play’ Case

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by 10 former college football and basketball players who alleged their images were improperly used without their permission by broadcast networks and eight NCAA conferences, the Tennessean reports. Chief District Judge Kevin H. Sharp ruled in Nashville yesterday that the players' claims that they were entitled to monetary compensation because they played in televised games do not represent a sufficient case. The ruling, however, runs counter to the findings in a similar California case and likely sets the stage for consideration by multiple appeals courts according to observers.

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Appeals Court Protects Controversial Muslim Film

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday reversed an earlier takedown order for the “Innocence of Muslims,” an anti-Muslim film that has resulted in death threats against an actress who says she did not authorize filmmakers to use her image and words. The appeals court said the takedown order, issued by a three-judge panel of the court, was an unconstitutional prior restraint under the First Amendment. The actress had filed suit to have the film removed from all Google sites, including You Tube. The ABA Journal has links to the story.

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Event to Benefit Legal Assistance for the Arts

The Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville, in conjunction with the Nashville Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, will host a fundraiser May 27 for the Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts. The event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the W.O. Smith School. It will include food, live music and a silent auction. Contact Kelly Donley to learn more.

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CLE Looks at ‘Blurred Lines’ Verdict

Learn more about the inside perspective on negotiating publishing deals and the “Blurred Lines” verdict at this year’s annual Entertainment and Sports CLE held at Belmont University College of Law on May 14. Visit TBA CLE for more information.

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Is Birch a Candidate to Run Titans?

An ESPN reporter is suggesting a familiar name in the Nashville legal community as a potential candidate to run the Tennessee Titans -- Adolpho Birch. The Nashville native and son of former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice A. A. Birch is the NFL’s senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs. He is also a Vanderbilt Law School grad.

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Nashville Lawyer Wins Big for Marvin Gaye’s Family

Pop stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams infringed on the copyright for Marvin Gaye's hit song "Got to Give It Up," according to a Tuesday verdict from a federal jury, which awarded Gaye's family $7.4 million. The case marked a monumental win for Nashville entertainment law attorney Richard Busch of King and Ballow, who represented the Gaye family. The contentious and sometimes weird legal battle centered on Thicke and Williams' 2013 song "Blurred Lines.” The Tennessean has the story.

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Chicago Entertainment Firm Opens Nashville Office

Leavens, Strand & Glover (LSG), a Chicago-based entertainment law firm, has opened an office on Nashville’s Music Row. LSG partner Hillel Frankel will relocate to Nashville to lead the office, which will be located at 1102 17th Ave. S., Nashville 37212. LSG focuses in music, film, entertainment and intellectual property law. Clients include Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, Pitchfork Media Inc. and Rick Nielsen, lead guitarist of classic rock band Cheap Trick, the Nashville Business Journal reports.

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Songwriter Equity Act Again Introduced in Congress

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers yesterday introduced the Songwriter Equity Act. Led by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, the legislation would allow the special royalty rate-setting board to consider the fair market value of a song when setting digital royalty rates. Music industry advocates believe this would lead to better royalty payments for songwriters and publishers. While an identical bill went nowhere last year, supporters hope it may fare better this year in the now GOP-controlled congress, the Tennessean reports.

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Predators CLE Feb. 24

Go inside the world of sports and entertainment law at the upcoming Predators CLE at Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 24. This CLE will offer a detailed look into the world of sports and entertainment, with winning advice from top professionals including former Nashville Predators players and a professional sports manager. Registration includes a pregame social hour and tickets to the Predators matchup with the Colorado Avalanche. Visit TBA CLE to register or for more information.

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Belmont Appoints Dean of Curb College

Belmont University has appointed Doug Howard to the position of dean for the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. A 1979 alumnus of Belmont, Howard received his law degree from the George Washington University School of Law. Following law school, Howard served as vice president and general manager for PolyGram Music Publishing for five years before becoming the senior vice president of A&R for Lyric Street Records, a division of the Walt Disney Company. Howard is the president and owner of Vandermont Music Group, a company he founded in 2010.

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IP Law Firm Partners with Project Music Accelerator Program

Patterson Intellectual Property Law today announced its partnership with Project Music, a music and technology business accelerator program. Developed in partnership with the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and the Country Music Association, Project Music guides eight tech start-up companies through an intensive 14-week business development and music business boot camp. All eight start-ups in the program are building businesses to work with the music industry.

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Dallas Entertainment Law Firm Adds 3 Nashville Attorneys

Dallas-based entertainment law firm Shackelford, Zumwalt & Hayes has added three attorneys to the firm’s Nashville office, which opened in 2010. Jay Bowen, Will Parsons and Lauren Kilgore will head the firm's litigation practice in Nashville, which previously specialized in entertainment business and commercial law, according to a news release. The firm will now be known as Shackelford, Bowen, Zumwalt & Hayes. It is part of Shackelford, Melton, McKinley & Norton. The Nashville Busines Journal has more.

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ASCAP Names General Counsel New CEO

ASCAP has promoted executive vice president and general counsel Elizabeth “Beth” Matthews to be its new CEO. She replaces John LoFrumento, who retired at the end of the year. Matthews takes the reins of the performance rights organization during a time of upheaval and uncertainty as ASCAP awaits word from the Department of Justice about potential revisions to its federal consent decree, the Tennessean reports. Matthews has pushed for reform of the decree, which governs what actions publishers may take with regard to the licensing of their catalogs.

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Airlines to Allow Small Instrument Carry-ons

Airlines will soon be required to allow musicians to carry their instruments on board when they fly, a long-fought victory for the Nashville music industry. The U.S. Department of Transportation only this week issued rules implementing the law Congress passed three years ago. The Nashville Business Journal has the story.

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Belmont Names Industry Veteran to Head Curb College

Belmont University has named music industry veteran Doug Howard as the new dean of the Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Howard is the founder of Vandermont Music Group and a former senior vice president at Lyric Street Records/Walt Disney Co. He replaces Wes Bulla, who plans to return to full time teaching on Jan. 1. Howard graduated from Belmont in 1979 and went on to earn a master of business administration from Vanderbilt University and a law degree from George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C.

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Entertainment and Sports Law Section Happy Hour Dec. 17

The TBA Entertainment and Sports Law section will be hosting a happy hour Dec. 17 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Sinema, located at 2600 Franklin Pike in Nashville. Contact section chair Casey Summar for more information or to join the section. To learn about the other 26 sections supported by the Tennessee Bar Association, visit the TBA website.

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Nashville Firm Closes Music Industry Deal

Round Hill Music has acquired the song catalog of Nashville-based Big Loud Shirt Industries, which consists of more than 30 number one Billboard airplay songs, Billboard Magazine reports. The transaction also included the purchase of Big Loud Bucks, a worldwide music administration company. Going forward, the companies will operate as a joint venture. The deal, handled by the Entertainment Practice Group in the Nashville office of Dickinson Wright, complements earlier moves Round Hill has made in the Nashville market, including acquisition of song catalogs from Roots 49 Music and Big Tractor Music. Read more in a release from the firm.

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Convicted 'Stringbean' Killer Paroled Today

John Brown, 64, who admitted to killing Grand Ole Opry and "Hee Haw" comic David "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife Estelle, was released from prison today. Brown, originally sentenced to 198 years, had been denied parole at least a half dozen times. He spent 40 years in prison. On Nov. 11, 1973, Brown and his cousin, Doug Marvin Brown, ransacked the Akemans' cabin on their farm in Ridgetop, but were apparently surprised by the Akemans as they returned home from the Opry. Brown shot Akeman as he walked into the cabin, then ran after his wife and shot her. Newschannel5 has more. In this 2004 Tennessee Bar Journal column, Don Paine wrote about the murders, the investigation and the trial.

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Women Lawyers Group Pans ‘Bad Judge’

The Miami-Dade chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers has asked NBC to cancel a new comedy series about a hard-drinking, hard-partying female judge —  appropriately titled "Bad Judge." "Our organization understands that 'Bad Judge' may be intended to be hyperbole, but we nonetheless find it damaging to women in the legal profession,” Deborah Baker, president of the Miami-Dade chapter, wrote in an Oct. 16 letter to Steve Burke, NBC’s CEO. The ABA Journal has more.

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DOJ Weighs Public Comments on Music Licensing Decrees

The music industry has entered into waiting mode as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) weighs hundreds of pages of public comments regarding its review of the consent decrees that govern how ASCAP and BMI administer music licenses and distributes royalties, the Tennessean reports. Because of the emergence of new technologies and music delivery systems, the licensing of music has become more complicated and disputes have arisen over fair rates. The issue has spilled into the federal courts, where the performance rights organizations dispute the rate that Internet radio company Pandora pays to songwriters and publishers.

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Gannett Makes More Cuts to Newsroom; Rejects Buyout

An effort to purchase Nashville’s daily newspaper by a local group has apparently fallen short, and the Tennessean’s parent corporation is moving ahead with a reorganization and additional layoffs at the daily. The Nashville Scene reports in a pair of articles that a Nashville-based group that included former Tennessean publisher Craig Moon and former Scene editor Bruce Dobie tried to buy Gannett’s Tennessee properties this summer, but had their offer rejected. Today, the Scene reports, the Tennessean cut about 15 percent of its newsroom staff as part of its transformation into the “Newsroom of the Future.”

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Event, Podcast Explore Connection Between Law and Music

Live Law 6 – a live storytelling event about the ways the law and music collide, and how that collision has changed Nashville’s Music Row forever – will be held tonight from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Central. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Live podcast starts at 7 p.m. The event, co-hosted by the Life of the Law podcast, Pursuit Magazine and Nashville Public Radio, will take place at the W.O. Smith Music School in Nashville. Among those speaking will be Nashville music insider Harold Bradley, who founded Studio A with his brother Owen and Chet Atkins. The studio was recently sold despite protests from those in the artist community who wanted to preserve it as an historical site. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

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National Entertainment Firm Acquires Nashville Boutique

The entertainment law firm of Ritholz Levy Sanders Chidekel & Fields, which has offices in New York and Los Angeles, has acquired the Nashville boutique firm of Petree Law. Current Petree lawyers Chip Petree and Matt Cottingham will run the Nashville office for Ritholz Levy, which represents artists such as CeeLo Green and Snoop Dogg as well as companies such as Pepsi and Tommy Hilfiger. The local firm will remain at 1221 Sixth Ave. North. The Nashville Business Journal has more.

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