News

Trump Signs Music Modernization Act into Law

President Trump today 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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Patent Use by Drug Companies Adds to Opioid Problem

A new patent for an opioid addiction treatment lists Richard Sackler, former chairman of Purdue Pharma, as the inventor, NPR reports.  David Herzberg, a historian who focuses on the opioid epidemic, fears the continuation patent, Patent No. 9861628, will keep treatment prices high and add additional difficulty for addicts trying to receive treatment. General counsel for the subsidiary that holds the patent emailed a statement saying that no product has been developed under this patent, and if one is developed, it will not be commercialized for profit. However, secondary patents, such as these, are a part of strategies often employed by pharmaceutical companies in order to lengthen their monopolies over drugs by blocking competitors. These patent strategies allow the pharmaceutical industry to receive a greater financial return than that of any other industry, according to a patent law expert at Stanford University.

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Tech Companies Encourage National Data Privacy Laws to Preempt California Law

During a Senate hearing Wednesday, major technology and internet companies — including Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, AT&T, Charter and Twitter — encouraged the passage of federal legislation to protect data privacy that would preempt the tough privacy law that California adopted, set to take effect in 2020, Reuters reports. The companies acknowledged the importance of being more transparent with personal data use and giving users more control over their data, but argue that California’s legislation is too burdensome due to confusing language, making compliance difficult. In addition to California adopting tough privacy laws, the European Union General Data Protection Regulation took effect in May. Violations carry stiff fines in the millions of dollars. The U.S. Commerce Department is seeking comments on how to set nationwide data privacy laws.  

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West Tennessee Legal Services Seeking Volunteers for Obion County Clinic

The Pro Bono Project at West Tennessee Legal Services has scheduled a Free Legal Clinic on Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Troy United Methodist Church. The clinic will be held in the church’s Activities Building located at 226 W. Westbrook St., Troy, Tennessee, 38260. All lawyers are invited to help at this counsel and advice-only clinic. To volunteer or for more information contact Ginny Brimm, 731-426-1308, or go online here.
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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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GDPR Privacy Complaints Filed Against Google in the EU

Privacy complaints against Google have been filed in Ireland and Britain by Brendan Eich, known for being the creator of JavaScript, co-founding the web browser Mozilla and founding the private web browser Brave, Reuters reports.  The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new privacy law that had a two-year lead-in period to provide time for companies to comply. However, the complaint argues that Google and the advertising technology industry are not processing personal data in a way that properly secures it.  Noncompliance with the GDPR carries heavy fines for serious violations. This test case could trigger an article in the GDPR and spur an EU-wide investigation.

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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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Supreme Court Solicits More Comments on Rules 6, 7

The Tennessee Supreme Court is soliciting additional comments from judges, lawyers, bar associations and members of the public regarding proposed revisions to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 6. The change would require “new attorneys to complete a Tennessee Law Course within one year of admission to the Tennessee bar.” On April 19, the Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order soliciting comments with regard to the proposed revision. The court received comments from the Tennessee Bar Association, the Knoxville Bar Association, University of Tennessee law professors, and several interested individuals. The overwhelming majority of responses favored the adoption of a Tennessee Law Course as a pre-admission requirement. Similarly, the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners submitted a proposal for adopting the Tennessee Law Course as a pre-admission requirement under Supreme Court Rule 7. The deadline for submitting written comments is Sept. 28. Comments should be e-mailed to appellatecourtclerk@tncourts.gov or mailed to: James M. Hivner, Clerk, Tennessee Appellate Courts, 100 Supreme Court Building, 401 7th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37219-1407. See the first and second attachments here.
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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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2018 Health Law Primer and Forum

Tennessee remains at the forefront of the health care industry, so it’s only fitting that we host the nation’s preeminent health law forum. This must-see, must-do event for Tennessee health law lawyers features timely programming designed to up your game and keep you on top of trends in the field. Topics for this year include new issues in health care as related to transgender and immigrant patients, the opioid crisis, fraud and abuse developments/enforcement, legislative updates and much much more. This year’s keynote speaker Chief Counsel to the Inspector General Gregory Demske will also detail priorities and enforcement efforts for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. Don’t sleep on this opportunity to learn from seasoned practitioners while networking with top players in the field. Here are the key details:
 
Health Law Primer (introductory program)
When: Wednesday, Oct. 10
Where: Embassy Suites Hotel, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
 
Health Law Forum
When:  Thursday, Oct. 11 – Friday, Oct. 12
Where: Embassy Suites Hotel, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
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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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Section Seeks Your Opinions on Upcoming Law Office Technology Forum

To help build programming for its upcoming Law Tech Forum, the TBA Law Office Technology and Management Executive Council is asking your opinions. Completing this brief web form will assist in ensuring the forum remains timely, relevant and on the cutting edge. Comments can be related to subject matter, length and location of the event. Please respond by Sept. 7. 

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Put TBA UPS to Work

Have you enrolled in TBA’s UPS account for members? Visit UPS's TBA page and save up to 34 percent on UPS’s broad portfolio. Shipping services include next day air, international, ground and express.
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Law Office Management Tips on Shipping

If your law office uses shipping services, your TBA membership team can help you compare those costs to TBA’s UPS member benefit. Your firm office manager can work directly with TBA staff and UPS services to enroll or transfer shipping accounts. Members can save up to 34 percent on UPS’s broad portfolio of shipping services, including next day air, international, ground and express.
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Destination CLE Survey

Let's take a trip! The TBA CLE Committee would like your feedback on destination CLE events. Taking a moment to complete this brief survey will greatly assist us in developing the best CLE experience for you. Please complete this survey by Aug. 10. We greatly appreciate your help with this endeavor.
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Last-minute Proposal Could Sink Music Modernization Bill

An 11th-hour proposal by a music licensing company could torpedo the Music Modernization Act before it even becomes a law, The Tennessean reports. The act, which has already passed the U.S. House and Senate, would improve digital royalty payouts to songwriters, begin paying artists and labels a digital royalty for songs recorded prior to 1972 and would create a new licensing collective to oversee digital mechanical licensing for songwriters and music publishers. The Nashville-based licensing agency SESAC has proposed changes to the legislation that would allow certified licensing companies to handle licensing and administration of digital mechanical licensing. Supporters of the bill say they worry that the last-minute addition could kill the bill.
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USPTO Grants Blockchain Patent to Tennessee Based Company

On June 5, the United States Patent Office issued U.S. Patent 9,990,418 to a Tennessee-based company, 2020 IP, LLC. The ‘418 patent covers Blockchain technology in the market research space and was prosecuted by past TBA Intellectual Property Chair A.J. Bahou. This patented method covers novel technology that puts the user in control of his/her data and allows the user to set the value for the user’s data. Although a variety of companies use Blockchain technology to collect data and record secure information, the ‘418 patented technology uses Blockchain to create a revolutionary consumer-led exchange for market research.
 
In the growing field of Blockchain technology, many companies are seeking patent protection on a variety of different applications, including cryptocurrency, supply-chain management, messaging applications, and payment networks. In general, Blockchain technology records data on a decentralized database that is similar to a ledger entry. Once the data is validated, the information is written in a block of data and chained together in a secure way so that it is very difficult to modify any validated information. In addition, since the data is duplicated in various places throughout the decentralized database network, an improper change to any one copy does not impact the other valid copies of the information. You can view the patent here.
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Senate Approves Motion in Attempt to Limit President's Authority on Tariffs

In an 88-11 vote last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved a motion requiring tariffs based on national security to obtain congressional approval prior to enactment, Time Magazine reports. President Donald Trump has recently imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and is contemplating more on automobiles, causing stocks and commodities to drop worldwide. The measure, sponsored by Senator Bob Corker, R–Tenn., comes after the administration said it would impose a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods due to purported theft of U.S. intellectual property. Legislation limiting Trump’s power will likely face an uphill battle in the U.S. House.

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Trump Changes Hiring Process for Federal Administrative Law Judges

President Donald Trump has issued an executive order altering the hiring process for administrative law judges at federal agencies, removing the examination process and competitive selections, NPR reports. Administrative law judges will now be political appointees. A White House official said that the move was intended to “protect agencies against challenges to the legitimacy of their administrative law judges,” but opponents of the move say it’s an example of executive overreach.
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