News

Volunteers Needed for Free Legal Clinic for Artists in Nashville

The Arts & Business Council is hosting a free legal clinic for artists at the Shelby Community Center in Nashville, 401 S. 20th Street on Nov. 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Those who wish to volunteer for this Pro Bono Entertainment Law Clinic should email vlpa@vlpanashville.org or call 615-460-8274.

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Glen Campbell Estate Administrator Disputes More Than $1.3M in Claims Filed by Widow

A recently appointed administrator in the estate of singer Glen Campbell is disputing more than $1.3 million in claims filed by his widow, The Tennessean reports. In a series of filings in Davidson County Probate Court, Blaine H. Smith has challenged five separate claims filed by Kimberly Campbell, who is also the administrator of the estate. Smith was appointed in September by Probate Court Judge David Randy Kennedy as a special administrator to review the five claims. The largest single claim challenged was for $506,380.93. A $301,408 claim, also disputed, seeks reimbursement to payoff a mortgage held on a now-sold property owned in California.
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THEC Denies MTSU Acquisition of Valparaiso University School of Law

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) decided to deny MTSU's acquisition of Valparaiso University School of Law in an eight to five vote last week, The Daily News Journal reports. THEC had a consultant conduct an independent study regarding issues surrounding the law school transfer, with results citing competition the transfer would create among existing schools in Tennessee. Attorney Evan Cope, who serves as chairman of the THEC, commented on the decision saying, “I can’t speak for the other members of the commission, but my sense is there was genuine concern about the labor supply and demand for lawyers, and that concern was legitimate."

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Basic Tech Checklist for Firms

Law firms attempting to stay competitive and state-of-the-art need to consistently evaluate their use of technology. In addition to staying competitive, technological competency is required. In 2017, the Tennessee Supreme Court amended Rule 8 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility to include this obligation. Above the Law presents a simple and straightforward tech checklist for law firms or lawyers seeking guidance in this area.   

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Member Spotlight

ALI's Restatement of Copyright Law Sparks Concern

The American Law Institute (ALI) is being criticized for its Restatement of copyright law, Billboard reports.  The National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) write that they consider the Restatement to be an extreme and regressive reinterpretation of the law while also attempting to undermine creators. The ALI publishes “Restatements of the Law,” which summarize and clarify court decisions in different states. Although the ALI is an independent organization with no legal authority, the published Restatements impact court decision around the U.S. because they are often used by lawyers and cited by judges. The NMPA and the RIAA have issued a statement and letter urging the ALI to vote no when the Restatement comes to the floor. Read the letter in full here.

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Global Study Finds Businesses Unknowingly Breaching Copyright Law with Background Music

Nielsen Music has released a global study of the background music business and found that composers, artists and musicians could be missing out on an estimated $2.65 billion a year, Forbes reports. Many small businesses are streaming personal music without obtaining a commercial license, violating copyright laws. The study found that 71 percent of small business owners in the U.S. incorrectly believed they could use their personal (B2C) music service for background music. In reality, they need a licensed business-to-business (B2B) music service. Although there are some organizations that do store visits, the story points out, there are too many small businesses for these organizations to effectively regulate their background music use.   

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Trump Signs Music Modernization Act into Law

Last week, President Trump signed the Music Modernization Act, passing into law landmark copyright reform that aims to ensure songwriters, artists, producers and others receive fair payment for the licensing of music, The Tennessean reports. The legislation, championed by Sen. Lamar Alexander, will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
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Sony Music Faces Class Action Litigation

The estate of Rick Nelson is leading a class action lawsuit against Sony Music, Variety reports. The suit was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan and alleges that Sony improperly withholds a portion of royalties from international streaming revenues. Sony assesses an intercompany charge of up to 68 percent on the foreign royalties before distributing funds to the artists. The suit seeks to add similarly structured Sony artists who are entitled to these revenues.

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Lawyer Withdrawals from Glen Campbell Estate Case

An Oct. 22 deadline to find a new lawyer has been given to the three disinherited children of Glen Campbell following the unexpected withdrawal of their lawyer, Chris Fowler. Davidson County Probate Judge David "Randy" Kennedy has appointed Blaine Smith as a temporary administrator so that claims filed by Campbell’s wife and administrator of his estate, Kimberly Campbell, will be reviewed.  Read more details surrounding the battle over Glen Campbell’s estate in this Tennessean article.

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TBA YLD Seeking Volunteers for Nashville Expungement Clinic

The TBA Young Lawyers Division is seeking volunteers for an expungement clinic on Oct. 27 at Nashville's Cathedral of Praise, 4300 Clarksville Highway. The event will be hosted by the National Prison Summit. Registration for pre-registered participants will take place from 8 - 9 a.m. and the clinic will start at 9:30 a.m. All volunteer attorneys are asked to arrive at 9 a.m. for orientation and the run of the day. The Criminal Court Clerk’s office will have computers and the ability to process the expungement paperwork right on the spot. The clinic is expected to end around noon. Those who wish to volunteer should contact Amber Floyd.
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Avvo to Improve Lawyer-Rating Transparency, Pay $50K in Agreement with NY AG

Online legal marketplace Avvo has reached an agreement with the New York Attorney General’s Office to increase the transparency of the online legal directory’s lawyer-rating system, The ABA Journal reports. The changes include consumer disclosures about how lawyers are rated and how legal forms are posted to the website. The company will also pay a $50,000 fine to cover the cost of the AG’s investigation.
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The Final Frontier: Ethics and the Malpractice Risks of Protecting Electronic Information – Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis

Just in time for the end-of-the-year CLE rush, the TBA has a variety of ethics CLE options across the state. As quickly as client information and case management technology evolves, so too does the legal profession’s duty to safeguard it. Join us in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis on Oct. 23, 24, and 25 for this annual event, with three hours of dual CLE, guiding attendees through malpractice risks and how to prevent them from happening in the ever-changing electronic age.

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Music Modernization Act Clears U.S. Senate

The Music Modernization Act, a landmark reform in the nation’s music copyright arena, passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, The Tennessean reports. The bill, which aims to improve the music licensing system and increase digital royalty payouts to songwriters, received rare bipartisan support in Congress. A reconciled version of the bill must be approved by the House, and then it would head to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval.
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U.S. Senate Unanimously Passes Music Modernization Act

Late Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the Music Modernization Act of 2018, S. 2334, a substantial piece of legislation reforming music copyright laws, The Verge reports. Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander lead the unanimous passage and renamed the bill to honor retiring Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, who championed it from the beginning. Three pieces of legislation were combined in the bill in order to revamp Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act, including the AMP Act, the CLASSICS Act and the Music Modernization Act. The next steps for the bill include being reconsidered by the House, followed by President Trump ultimately signing it into law. 

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3 Dual Hours in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville

The TBA is offering a three-hour CLE focused on ethics and malpractice risks in protecting electronic information in Middle, East and West Tennessee. The CLEs will start in Knoxville on Oct. 23. Topics include: case management technology, professional duty, financial exposure and risk management. See all locations and dates here.
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Children of Lorenzen Wright Maintain Their Mother Was Not Involved in His Murder

The children of slain basketball star Lorenzen Wright adamantly dispute that their mother, Sherra Wright, had anything to do with his murder, according to a story in The Los Angeles Times. Wright’s body was found badly decomposed in a Memphis field where he was left after being shot twice in the head and torso and once in his forearm. Wright was ordered in a parenting plan to maintain a $1 million life insurance policy, which authorities believe may have been a motive. The children created a GoFundMe account in late June to help bail out their mother, but had not raised any cash when the article was published.

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RIAA President Mitch Glazier Responds to Sirius XM's MMA Complaints

There is increased urgency to pass the Music Modernization Act this session before the November midterm elections restructure Congress and the Supreme Court. Years in the making, the MMA has 75 bipartisan co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate and represents a compromise between music creators and digital services. However, Sirius XM adamantly opposes the bill and threatens to stall its passage. Read RIAA president Mitch Glazier's response to Sirius XM’s complaints of the MMA in this Billboard opinion piece.

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EU Parliament Approves Controversial Copyright Reforms

The European Parliament has voted in favor of a piece of legislation updating copyright laws, The Verge reports.  Two sections of the legislation — Articles 11 and 13 — are particularly controversial, sparking debate amongst artists, media companies and the tech giants that host their work. Article 11 requires internet companies, like Facebook or Google, to pay newspapers, magazines or news agencies for posting links or previews of their stories. Article 13 holds platforms like YouTube liable for posting copyrighted material.  A final approval vote will take place in January 2019, and it is expected to pass. Once approved, each individual member state of the EU will implement it based on its own interpretation of the text. 

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Aretha Franklin's $80 Million Estate in Limbo

If recent history is an indication, Aretha Franklin’s estimated $80 million estate could be in for a contentious battle, according to Rolling Stone. The Queen of Soul left no will when she died, so according to Michigan law, her estate should be evenly divided among her four adult sons: Ted White Jr., Kecalf Franklin, Edward Franklin and Clarence Franklin. However, the possibility of unreleased music, royalty streams and the likelihood of numerous financial accounts increases the likelihood of this being contested in court. 

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Actor Tim Conway's Daughter Granted Temporary Restraining Order

Actor Tim Conway‘s daughter was granted a temporary restraining order, preventing his wife, Charlene, from moving him to a new residence, People reports. Conway was recently diagnosed with dementia and is unable to communicate. Conway’s lawyer, Michael Harris told People that there were no plans to move him and that the wife “is an adequate and appropriate steward of her husband’s well-being and that her motives regarding Mr. Conway are in his best interest.” Conway is best known for his work on The Carol Burnett Show and McHale’s Navy. The next hearing date is set for Friday.

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ABA Files Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court to Adopt Speedier Enforcement of Copyright Claims

The American Bar Association filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, Sept. 4, asking the justices to settle a split among lower courts by establishing an “application approach” to enforce copyright claims. In endorsing the application approach, the ABA brief said it better reflects the nature of copyright law by focusing on the “copyright holder’s conduct not that of the Copyright Office.” The brief points out that as of July, the Copyright Office reported that a certificate of registration may take between three and 28 months to process, and the delay can prevent a copyright holder from filing suit immediately to prevent widespread dissemination of the infringing work.
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Volunteers Needed for YMCA Model United Nations and Youth in Government Programs

The Tennessee Bar Association's Public Education Committee is partnering with the YMCA to help mentor future lawyers in the Model United Nations and Youth in Government programs. The programs are designed to allow students ages 11-19 to experience the processes of government in a hands-on way. Model United Nations conferences occur in the Fall and Youth in Government conferences happen in the Spring. The YMCA is always in need of volunteers to help our young lawyers argue their cases well and to help our youth justices deliberate wisely. The Public Education Committee seeks volunteers for programs all across the state. Volunteers are welcome help serve for one, two or three days during the conferences. Each conference runs a similar program, just with different students from across Tennessee attending each weekend. For more information about the program, please visit the YMCA's website or contact Elise Dugger

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Rapper Not Protected Under Free Speech for Song Encouraging Police Violence

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a rapper that identified Pittsburgh police officers by name and made threats of violence against them in a song is not protected by the First Amendment, The Washington Post reports. The ruling upheld the conviction of Jamal Knox, who was found guilty of making terroristic threats and witness intimidation for his 2012 song, the music video for which included photos of the officers. 
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Judge Expands Administrator's Powers for Glen Campbell Estate

In the battle over Glen Campbell's estate, Judge David "Randy" Kennedy has expanded the powers of the estate’s administrator while also ordering a detailed accounting of a joint bank account Campbell maintained with his wife, the Tennessean reports. This development comes after Stanley B. Schneider — who serves as the estate’s administrator and was formally Campbell's business manager — petitioned the court for the power to pay taxes and other estate obligations. Under the order, Schneider is required to determine what funds in the account are considered community property with Kimberly Campbell and what funds belong to the estate. 

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