News

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.”

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

Pat Summitt Will Not Testify in Job Discrimination Suit

Former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt will not be called to testify in former spokeswoman Debby Jennings’ federal job discrimination lawsuit, an attorney said today in U.S. District Court. Jennings claims she lost her job when she took up for Summitt when Summitt believed she was being forced to retire due to a diagnosis of early onset dementia. The Tennessean has more.

read more »

DOJ Looking at Price Fixing Among Music Publishers

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating possible pricing coordination among music publishers in its negotiations with performance rights organizations ASCAP and BMI, the Wall Street Journal reports. Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the paper suggests that the investigation has become part of the department's previously announced broader review into the longstanding system for determining the cost of licensing songs. The Tennessean reports that the revelation comes as Sony/ATV Music Publishing is threatening to withdraw all of its licensing rights from the performance rights organizations if regulators don’t allow for the partial withdraw of digital rights.

read more »

Former Tennessee Titans Take Hit Under New Workers’ Comp Law

Changes in workers' compensation laws have created new challenges for workers seeking help, including former professional athletes. In Tennessee, all workers seeking compensation face substantial cuts in benefits since a new law took effect July 1. Under the revised statute, employees will no longer have the right to appeal decisions in the state court system and factors that could boost benefits based on the severity and longevity of the injury were removed. Records show that some two dozen former Tennessee Titans football players have filed workers’ comp claims in Tennessee, while many more have sought compensation in California because it has more worker-friendly compensation laws. The Tennessean has more.

read more »

Dickinson Wright Opens Music Row Office

Dickinson Wright has tapped a trio of attorneys to lead its expanded entertainment law practice group, newly located on Music Row, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Derek Crownover, founder of the Crownover Firm, will serve as the group’s practice leader while Austen Adams and Cam Caldwell, also previously with the Crownover Firm, join the group. The firm will maintain its downtown Nashville office in addition to the new Music Row location.

read more »

Nashville Attorney Looks Back on Landmark Copyright Case

More than 20 years ago, Nashville attorney Alan Turk was hired to represent Miami-based rap group 2 Live Crew in what became a pivotal copyright infringement lawsuit with ramifications for everything from "Saturday Night Live" to modern hip-hop. The group was sued for sampling Roy Orbison’s song “Oh, Pretty Woman” without his permission for a rap parody. Turk would go down as the lead counsel on a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court and set the standard for protecting works of parody under the fair-use clause in the federal copyright law. The Tennessean has more on this landmark case.

read more »

Court Revives 'Raging Bull' Lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a copyright lawsuit over the 1980 movie "Raging Bull" can go forward, a decision that could open Hollywood studios to more claims from people seeking a share of profits from classic films, TV shows and other creative works, the Associated Press reports. In a 6-3 decision, the justices found that Paula Petrella, daughter of the late screenwriter Frank Petrella, did not wait too long to file her lawsuit against Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The studio had argued that Petrella' decision to wait 18 years to file a lawsuit was an unreasonable delay. The Memphis Daily News has the story.

read more »

Tennessee Lawmakers Push for Royalty Reform for Songwriters

U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker today joined Sen. Orrin Hatch at Nashville's Bluebird Cafe to introduce the Senate version of the Songwriters Equity Act, which seeks to increase royalty payments to songwriters and music publishers, the Tennessean reports. The legislation is viewed by professional songwriters as critical to updating the copyright law they say is outdated. Resistance is expected to come from digital radio service providers, such as Pandora. U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, have also signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation.

read more »

College Athletes Can Unionize, NLRB Rules

Football players at Northwestern University are deemed employees under federal law and so can create the nation’s first college athletes’ union, according to a ruling by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional director Peter Ohr. Union lawyers argued the Big Ten school's football players are part of a commercial enterprise that generates hefty profits through their labor. The NCAA, Big Ten Conference and the private school vehemently opposed the union drive. The Tennessean has the story.

read more »

If You Did It, Flaunt It With a TBJ Announcement

The Tennessee Bar Journal has a new opportunity for lawyers and firms to promote outstanding achievements, new associates, new partners, mergers, awards and any changes within the firm. Now, Professional Announcements are available at special, lower-rate pricing. You can tell more than 12,000 of your peers about your accomplishments by placing an announcement in the Journal. For information or to place an announcement, contact Debbie Taylor at 503-445-2231 or Debbie@llm.com. To have an announcement placed in the April issue, please contact her before Feb. 18.

read more »

Bill Creates Digital Performance Royalties for Pre-1972 Songs

State lawmakers Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, have filed a bill they say would close a loophole in copyright law and establish digital performance royalties for recordings made before 1972. Under current copyright law, songs recorded prior to Feb. 15, 1972, do not pay a performance royalty to the artist and musicians. Instead, they are protected by a “patchwork of state laws and common law,” the Tennessean reports. Last month, a hearing on comprehensive royalty reform was held in the House Judiciary Committee, but with powerful interests on both sides of the issue action may not be likely any time soon, observers say.

read more »

New Name for Nashville Law Firm

The Nashville entertainment law firm of Ansel L. Davis & Associates has become Davis Dirickson PLLC after firm attorney Landon Dirickson was named partner. Dirickson, a native of Tulsa and a graduate of the University of Tulsa Law School, has been with the firm since 2005. He will continue to represent existing clients and focus on expanding the business. The firm focuses on negotiating agreements for artists, producers, songwriters and executives. Its address and phone number will remain the same. The Nashville Business  Journal reported the news.

read more »

NFL Sued for Consumer Fraud over Super Bowl Tickets

A New Jersey man has sued the National Football League (NFL) for violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The suit accuses the NFL of pricing average football fans out of the Super Bowl by only making 1 percent of all tickets available to the public for purchase at face value. The NFL says it is reviewing the suit, but notes that three-quarters of the game’s tickets are given to teams, which sell them at face value to fans who win lotteries. Knoxnews has the story.

read more »

UK Lawyer Fined for 'Outing' Harry Potter Author

A lawyer with the London firm Russell Solicitors has been fined more than $1,600 for breaching client confidentiality rules and disclosing confidential information about a client to a third party when he revealed to his wife’s friend that “Harry Potter” author J.K Rowling was the secret author of “The Cuckoo’s Calling.” Rowling sued Russell Solicitors, which issued the attorney a written rebuke and paid damages to the author for the leak. WRCB reports from the Associated Press.

read more »

Pop Star Sued for Copyright Infringement

Pop star Ariana Grande, her publishing company and record label were named in a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court today, the Tennessean reports. Minder Music claims Grande and producer/writer/co-performer Mac Miller copied from its 1972 disco song “Troglodyte” for her hit song, “The Way.” Minder Music is represented by Nashville entertainment law attorney Richard Busch of King & Ballow.

read more »

Judge Allows Copyright Suit Against Country Duet

Nashville-based U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger ruled this week that a copyright lawsuit against country superstars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood over their duet “Remind Me” could move forward. The ruling found that songwriter Amy Bowen, who performs as Lizza Connor, established a plausible claim of copyright infringement by Paisley and Underwood and songwriters John Kelley Lovelace and Charles DuBois. However, Trauger was clear that she was not ruling as a matter of law that the defendants infringed the copyright. Bowen claims she performed her song “Remind Me” at a songwriting workshop where Lovelace and DuBois were advisers three years before they penned a song with the same name. The defendants argue their song has a different melody, hook and lyrics. The Tennessean has more on the story.

read more »

Investor Lawsuit Allowed to Continue in State Court

The Tennessee Supreme Court yesterday unanimously decided that a lawsuit filed by Jeffrey R. Cooper against a movie start-up could proceed in state court. Cooper’s suit claims Phillip, Richard and David Glasser misrepresented facts to induce him to invest $500,000 in their production company, Hi Def Entertainment. After Cooper requested dismissal of a similar action filed in California and a suit filed in federal court, the defendants sought to block the case based on a federal rule that precludes proceeding on a claim after two dismissals. The high court determined that the voluntary federal dismissals did not address the merits of the case and that the claims raised by Cooper were still viable in state court. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more.

read more »

DA: Lawyer in Vanderbilt Rape Case Destroyed Evidence

The Nashville district attorney's office on Friday accused Albert Perez Jr. -- who is representing Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg on rape charges -- of destroying evidence in the case. As first reported in the Nashville Scene, the DA's motion alleges that two witnesses said the California attorney “was directly involved with the destruction or attempted destruction of evidence in this case." The DA also filed a motion to disqualify Perez as Vandenburg's lawyer. Last week, Perez accused the DA of withholding evidence needed to prepare for trial.

read more »

Class Action Suit Pits Players Against NCAA

Georgia and Auburn went head to head in one of the most exciting games of the week on Saturday, but both before and after the action ended, the players were all on the same team. A federal judge on Nov. 8 declared a case brought by the nonprofit National College Players Association as a class action, meaning that all Division I men's basketball players and bowl-subdivision football players are suing the NCAA unless they opt out. If they win, they will receive a slice of college sports revenue, including profits from broadcast rights contracts. Read more from Barrons.

read more »