September Issue: Cumulative Error, Torts and 'It's Lawsuit Time in the SEC!'

"Errors in isolation may not be impactful," writes David L. Hudson, "but multiple errors together or cumulatively may require a finding that the defendant's trial does not comport with the due-process ideal of fundamental fairness." Hudson takes a detailed overview of the Cumulative Error Doctrine in this issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal. Columns include John Day's torts, John Williams' book review on Lincoln’s Greatest Case, and in perfect timing for the start of football season, Bill Haltom takes a humorous look at a current lawsuit heating up in the Southeastern Conference.

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Nightfall at the Hall Event for Young Professionals

The Troubadour Society is the Country Music Hall of Fame’s young professional organization that supports the Museum’s Community Counts Program. The group connects with other like minded professionals, ages 21-45. The Troubadour Society’s annual event, Nightfall at the Hall, is coming up on Sept. 7. RSVP for the event or join the Troubadour Society online now. To learn more about the group contact Molly Sheehan, chair of the TBA's Entertainment and Sports Law Section.

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Taylor Swift Testifies in Groping Trial

Pop star Taylor Swift delivered fiery testimony yesterday when she took the stand against former Denver DJ David Mueller who says he lost his job after Swift complained about him groping her, The Washington Post reports. Swift described the incident that led to Mueller’s firing, in which while posing for a photo, Mueller allegedly groped her under her skirt. “It happened to me. I know it was him,” she said. “I didn’t need a picture. I could have picked him out of a line of a thousand.” Mueller is suing Swift for $3 million in damages, while Swift countersued for $1.
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Nashville Music Publishers Sue Spotify Over Licensing

Two Nashville music publishers filed separate lawsuits yesterday against streaming service Spotify for failing to obtain the appropriate licenses for thousands of songs, The Tennessean reports. The publishers claim Spotify didn’t follow proper protocol and has been streaming the songs illegally. The plaintiffs are Bluewater Music Services, a publisher and music catalog administrator, and Bob Gaudio, a publisher and songwriter who penned hits for Frankie Valii and the Four Seasons.
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Item of Interest

Below is an article that was published in the the Disability Section Connect. We thought it had information that would be of interest to those of you in this section as well.  

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Journalist Must Admit to Embellishing Articles to Sue Over Infringement for Tupac Biopic

In order to sue a movie studio for copyright infringement, journalist Kevin Powell must admit that he embellished articles he wrote for Vibe magazine about the life of rapper Tupac Shakur without the late musician’s permission, The Hollywood Reporter reports. While true details about Shakur's life should be considered a part of the public domain, in a complaint filed in New York federal court on Friday, Powell admits to having made up a character that was based on a real-life figure in the rapper’s life. The suit alleges that the character, as well as other details from Powell’s articles, were lifted by Lionsgate Films for the Shakur biopic All Eyez on Me.
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SCOTUS Allows Band to Call Itself by Disparaging Name

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Asian-American rock band The Slants, which had previously been denied a trademark by the U.S. Patent Office due to the disparaging nature of its moniker, NPR reports. The ruling could have major implications for other trademark cases and disputes, like the Washington Redskins football team. "The disparagement clause violates the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause," Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion.
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Rep. Scalise Critical After Shooting; Rep. Fleischmann Calls Scene a 'Madhouse'

House Majority Whip and Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise is in critical condition following surgery for a gunshot wound suffered at a congressional baseball practice earlier today, the Associated Press reports. Tennessee’s Rep. Chuck Fleischmann was at the field finishing practice with the rest of the team when the gunman began shooting. The Ooltewah Republican was not hit. “It’s just a madhouse here,” he said during a phone call from the scene. “It’s horrible. I’ve never experienced anything like that.” Read more of Fleischmann's account from The Tennessean.

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Predators Fan Charged After Hurling Catfish in Pittsburgh

A Nashville Predators hockey fan was charged with three misdemeanors in Pittsburgh for throwing a catfish onto the rink during the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals, The Tennessean reports. Jacob Waddell of Nolensville was charged with disorderly conduct, disrupting a meeting and possession of an instrument of crime for throwing the dead fish, a tradition at Nashville home games. Local elected officials, attorneys and even the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have expressed their support for Waddell, and fans have raised money to cover his legal fees.
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Turn Your Expertise into a Magazine Article

It’s no surprise that some of the best articles in the Tennessee Bar Journal have come from TBA section members. Your membership in this section shows that you have a keen interest in trends, developments and case law in this practice area. Sharing this knowledge with your colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession.

How can you become a Journal author? Think of and refine your topic. It should be of interest to Tennessee lawyers, which is a broad criteria. This could mean you might explain a new state law, explain a complicated area of law, or take a larger issue and connect it to what it means for Tennessee attorneys and the justice system. Find a global issue within your particular experience or knowledge and tell about it and how it affects Tennessee law. Then take a look at the writer’s guidelines at, which will tell you about length, notes and other details. Once it’s in the proper format, send it in! It goes to the editor, Suzanne Craig Robertson, who will then get it to the seven members of the Editorial Board for review.

If you are published, you may apply for CLE credit for your work under Supreme Court Rule 21 Section 4.07(b). For details on claiming the credit, check with the Commission on CLE & Specialization at

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Don't Miss the TBA Entertainment & Sports Forum

Register now for the TBA Entertainment & Sports Law Forum 2017. This informative program will be held on Friday, May 19, at the Belmont University College of Law/Baskin Center in Nashville and offers 3 general and 1 dual CLE credits.

This afternoon seminar will cover some of the most cutting-edge legal issues in the music and entertainment industry, including a Supreme Court update on trademark and copyright cases, a primer on music publishing and an introduction to the world of virtual reality.

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TBA Convention in Kingsport is Just Around the Corner

Registration is open for the 2017 TBA Annual Convention. This years programming offers plenty of opportunities to make new friends and renew acquaintances with colleagues from across the state. The highlight comes Thursday night with the Kingsport Karnival at the downtown Farmers Market. Along with fabulous food and drink, there will be live music from two bands, an aerialist, juggler, magician, body and face painters, caricaturist and more. Plus, you'll have access to the fabulous Kingsport Carousel, the delightful project of community artisans. Special thanks to Eastman for support of this event! 

This years convention also offers 12 hours of CLE programming, highlighted by sessions on the Hatfields and McCoys, The Neuroscience of Decision-Making, and the popular Better Right Now wellness program. It is all set at the beautiful MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center. To receive the TBA $129 room rate, you must book your reservation by May 23. Book your room online now or call 423-578-6600.

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Call For Submissions — Law Practice Pointers

One of the benefits of being a TBA Section Member is having access to information from experienced practitioners to assist in your day-to-day practice. The sharing of this information amongst colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession. It is also a way of helping each other to maneuver the evolving legal market and strengthen your legal practice.

How can you help your fellow Section Members?  If you have some Law Practice Pointers you would like to share with your fellow section members, write an article between 300-500 words and submit it to the Section Coordinator for review and approval. These Law Practice Pointers can be related to a court opinion, piece of legislation, or current event or industry trend that affects the practice of law as it relates to the specific Section. The main requirement is to make sure the article gives lawyers practical tips, based on experience, to include in their day-to-day practice.

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The State of Music Licensing and More at Entertainment and Sports Law Forum

Join the TBA on May 19 for a CLE on entertainment and sports law at the Belmont University College of Law. Sessions will cover a Supreme Court update focusing on hot button trademark and copyright cases and the state of music licensing. Speakers will also address music publishing, how songwriters get paid and an introduction to the world of virtual reality. Read more and register here.

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ABC to Hold Nashville Benefit

The Arts and Business Council will host a benefit on May 24 in Nashville, with proceeds going to the Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts program. The evening will showcase music, dance, film and more from local artists, as well as a silent auction featuring items like co-writing sessions with Nashville songwriters. The event will take place at W.O. Smith Music School, 1125 8th Ave. South, from 6 – 9 p.m.
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Producer Claims Piracy Law ‘Threatens to Destroy’ Music

Tennessee music producer T Bone Burnett said that federal laws governing music piracy are insufficient and “threaten to destroy” the music industry, the Tennessean reports. Burnett is joining others in providing comments that will be sent to the U.S. Copyright Office, which is reviewing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Burnett said that there are loopholes in the law that make it difficult for artists and those in the industry to stop piracy.
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TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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Songwriters Back Gaye Family in Lawsuit

A group of Hall of Fame songwriters filed a legal brief yesterday opposing a judge’s ruling they say hurts copyright protections for songs recorded before 1978, the Tennessean reports. The family of Marvin Gaye won a multi-million dollar suit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who were accused of copying elements of a Gaye hit without permission for their song “Blurred Lines.” On appeal, the judge ruled that the only elements of Gaye’s song that were protected were those included on the lead sheet – a document filed with the U.S. Copyright Office. The Gaye family argues that the copyright should extend to the sound recording. The songwriters agree, arguing that if left to stand, the judge’s ruling effectively disenfranchises writers of pre-1978 songs.

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Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

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Court Rejects Challenges to NFL Concussion Settlement

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday rejected the final two challenges to an estimated $1 billion settlement between the NFL and more than 20,000 former players who have been diagnosed with brain injuries linked to repeated concussions. Players who already have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or dementia now could begin receiving payments in 90 to 120 days, CBS News reports. The remaining lawsuits had accused the league of hiding what it knew about concussion risks but the NFL denied those claims. WREG TV has the story.

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National Immigration Conference Coming to Nashville

The Ninth Annual National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) will take place in Nashville next week on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The conference will feature leading voices on immigration and civil rights as well as those affected personally by immigration policies. Among those sharing personal stories will be Eddie Huang, who will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday on “Breaking Bread: Food, Culture and Immigration.” Widely known as the chef and owner of a popular Taiwanese restaurant in New York City, Huang also has produced several projects under the moniker "Fresh Off the Boat," including a memoir, a travelogue and a sitcom. Register for the full conference or RSVP for the complimentary Huang presentation.

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DOJ Files Appeal in Songwriter Licensing Case

The Department of Justice on Friday appealed a federal judge’s decision to strike down its proposal for 100 percent music licensing for songwriters and publishers represented by BMI. Under the scheme proposed by the department, music licensing organizations such as BMI would be forced to license a song even if they only represented a small percentage of the song’s copyright. Songwriters and publishers have criticized the proposal saying it would throw the profession into chaos and threaten the practice of co-writing among songwriters from different performance rights organizations. The appeal was widely expected according to industry watchers, the Tennessean reports.

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Vandenburg Sentenced to 17 Years

Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins ruled Friday that Brandon Vandenburg will spend 17 years in prison for his role in the rape of an unconscious woman in his Vanderbilt University dorm room more than three years ago. The former college football player, 23, was found guilty of five counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery and unlawful photography. He will now go to Bledsoe County Correctional Complex for intake and an assessment to determine where he will serve his sentence, the Tennessean reports.

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Clapton, Labels Sued over Iconic Song

The stepgrandson of Bo Carter is suing Eric Clapton, alleging that he wrongly attributed the song “Corrine, Corrina” to Huddie Ledbetter (better known as Lead Belly) in his 2013 re-release of his “Unplugged” album. The suit also seeks more than $5 million from a slate of songwriters, publishers and broadcasters for receiving royalties and failing to give Carter proper credit for the widely covered blues and country standard. Among those named are Warner Music Group Corp., Sony/ATV Music Publishing, EMI Mills Music Inc., Rhino Entertainment Co., Viacom Inc., Folkways Music Publishers Inc., Hal Leonard LLC, J.W. Pepper & Sons Inc. and 10 “John Does.” Industry observers tell the Tennessean that the very nature of the blues genre may make it difficult to prove copyright violations.

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SCOTUS Denies NCAA Appeal in O'Bannon Amateurism Case

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will not hear the NCAA’s appeal in the Ed O'Bannon case, keeping the lower court’s decision that found amateurism rules for college basketball and football players to be in violation of federal antitrust laws. The LA Times reports that the court also rejected another appeal, this one from former college basketball star O’Bannon, that called for a plan to pay football and basketball players. In 2014, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in the original case that the NCAA’s use of names, images and likenesses of college athletes without compensation violated antitrust law.
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