News

Copyright Suit Against Taylor Swift Could 'Open Floodgates,' Nashville Lawyer Warns

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has reinstated a copyright lawsuit filed by two songwriters who claim musician Taylor Swift stole their lyrics for her hit 2014 song, “Shake It Off.” A district court judge dismissed the case in 2018, saying the lyrics cited in the suit “didn’t merit copyright protection” because they are so often used. This week however, the 9th Circuit said the trial court wrongly acted as the “final judge of the worth of an expressive work.” Nashville-based lawyer Jeff Allen of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings spoke to Bloomberg Law, saying the suit could “potentially open the floodgates for people filing lawsuits over people using colloquial phrases.” He added, “that’s not what copyright law was intended to protect.”

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Business Court Holds Panel Discussion, Opportunity to Meet Chancellor

The Tennessee Business Court will hold a panel discussion and opportunity to meet the court’s new presiding judge, Chancellor Anne Martin, Monday at noon. The event will take place in the Jury Assembly Room of the Davidson County Historic Metro Courthouse, 1 Public Square, Nashville 37201. Court of Appeals Judge W. Neal McBrayer will moderate the panel discussion with Nashville lawyers Brigid Carpenter, managing shareholder of Baker Donelson's Nashville office; Butler Snow attorney Erin Palmer Polly; Tim Warnock, founding member of Riley Warnock & Jacobson; and Bone McAllester Norton attorney Stephen Zralek. Chancellor Martin also will make remarks. Download the invitation.

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Dollywood Sued for Copyright Violations in Christmas Show

The copyright owners of the "Charlie Brown Christmas" theme song recently sued Dollywood for copyright violations, claiming the park has illegally used the song in live Christmas shows for more than a decade. According to Los Angeles-based Lee Mendelson Film Productions, no one from Dollywood secured permission to perform the song, even after warnings from the firm’s attorneys last year. The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $150,000 for each performance of the song plus attorneys’ fees. Knoxnews reports that the show, “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” has been running since 2007. Dollywood denied using the song in last year’s performance according to court records.

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Amazon Enters Legal Services Arena

It is not hard to imagine a time when Amazon offers all kinds of legal services to consumers, lawyer and technology expert Robert Ambrogi writes in Above the Law. But that day may be closer now that the retail giant has launched a curated network of intellectual property law firms providing trademark registration services at pre-negotiated rates. The goal of the new “Amazon Intellectual Property Accelerator” is to help companies obtain protection for their brands quickly and easily. So far, 10 law firms have been approved to participate in the program. Set fees include $500 for a trademark search, $600 for a trademark application and $1,800 for a comprehensive brand review. The client pays nothing to Amazon, instead contracting directly with the law firms. Amazon also says it will provide protections to participating companies selling items on its site even while applications are pending.

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Entertainment & Sports Law Section Fall Service Project - Register to Volunteer!

The executive council of the Entertainment & Sports Law Section has organized a fall service project and is looking for volunteers! We hope you will consider volunteering your time on Saturday, Nov. 9, from 1-4 p.m at the Second Harvest Food Bank. You are welcome to bring members of your family or friends!

Here are some key details:

When

  • Saturday, Nov. 9, from 1-4 p.m. (central)

Group Member Registration

  • All adults must create an account and sign up for the shift on our group’s personalized landing page. If you would like to bring members of your family or friends, please be sure each volunteer creates an account, so we can accurately track our group's size.
  • In addition to registering at the link above, minors age 6-17, MUST have a parent or guardian sign the Youth Volunteer Application and submit this hard copy application on the day of the volunteer project. 

Location/Parking

  • Your volunteer shift will take place at 331 Great Circle Rd. in Nashville.
  • Limited parking is available next to the building. Volunteers are encouraged to carpool whenever possible.

Volunteer Duties/Policies and Procedures

Please review the policies and procedures in full prior to your shift and be sure to note these important policies:

  • ALL warehouse volunteers must wear close-toed shoes. Volunteers wearing sandals or flip-flops will not be allowed to volunteer.
  • There are several volunteer projects at Second Harvest that include refrigerated sorting. Please have everyone bring cozy layers in case you are assigned a “cool” volunteer project!
  • No bags, purses or backpacks are allowed in the volunteer area. Please leave these items at home or in a locked vehicle.
  • In efforts to remain as environmentally friendly as possible, volunteers are encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottle.
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Bass Berry Expands to New York City

Bass Berry & Sims has added its first attorney in New York City, the Nashville Post reports. New York attorney Marc Ackerman is joining the firm as counsel in the Sports/Media and Intellectual Property/Technology Practice groups. Most recently, he was general counsel and senior vice president of legal and business affairs at race series Tough Mudder. Previously, he worked as outside counsel for the NFL, ESPN and other sports and media organizations. Read more from the firm.

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Stan Lee's Daughter Files Suit Over IP Rights

J.C. Lee, daughter of the late Stan Lee, has filed a new lawsuit against POW! Entertainment alleging that business executives took advantage of her father’s declining health to gain control of his intellectual property in order to sell the rights to Chinese holding company, Camsing International, Gizmodo reports. This suit revives a previous lawsuit filed in 2018 on Lee’s behalf which claimed that POW! was trying to steal and profit from Stan Lee’s identity. He claimed that at the time of the sale to Camsing, he was told he was given a non-exclusive licensing agreement with POW!, which was not the case. However, the suit was dropped two months later. This new lawsuit seeks damages, claim name and likeness rights as well as domain names and websites.

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New TBA Sidebar Podcast Episode Shares Benefits of Improv Comedy For Lawyers

A new installment of the Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network show, Sidebar, is now available. The episode focuses on improv skills for attorneys and features interviews with the co-owner of the Third Coast Comedy Club in Nashville and Kirsten Jacobson, staff attorney at the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and improv student. Sidebar is available on the TBA's website or anywhere you listen to podcasts, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher and TuneIn. Simply search the show title of "Tennessee Bar Association." Do you have a story lead you'd like to hear on a future episode? Submit your ideas here.

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Deputy Commissioner of TennCare Roberts to Speak at TBA Health Law Forum

As Tennessee deals with the rising medical needs of its rural citizens and seeks to realize its Medicaid block grant proposal, there are many developments on the horizon for TennCare. TBA Health Law Section member and Deputy Commissioner of TennCare Gabe Roberts will address some of these plans on Oct. 17 at the 31st Annual TBA Health Law Forum. Roberts’ address — along with presentations by Johns Hopkins health policy expert and New York Times bestselling author Marty Makary and health care policy advisor to the White House Larry Van Horn — will make this year’s forum the must-see, must-do event in health law. You can learn more and see the rest of the program’s stellar line-up using this link.
 
When: Oct. 17-18; registration begins at 7 a.m., CDT on Oct. 17
Where: Embassy Suites Cool Springs, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
 
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Nashville Arts & Business Council to Hold Legal Clinic for Artists

The Nashville Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville will hold its next pro bono legal clinic for artists, musicians and other creatives on Sept. 25. The clinic provides a free 30 minute legal consultation on issues from contracts to registering copyrights. The clinic will take place from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m. at the Coleman Park Community Center at 384 Thompson Ln., Nashville, 37211. Learn more about this pro bono opportunity.

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Legal Aid Society to Celebrate 50-Year Anniversary

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will hold its 50th Anniversary Celebration “An Evening at the Frist” on Nov. 9 at the Frist Museum in downtown Nashville. The event will feature cocktails, live music and a gallery exhibition, and provide a unique opportunity to honor the group’s distinguished 50-year legacy of providing “justice for all.” Tickets are available online.

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September Episode Of TBA BarBuzz Podcast Now Available

Get a monthly recap of bar association news and upcoming events on this month’s episode of BarBuzz, part of the Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network. Also included in the network are Sidebar, a show covering human interest stories from attorneys in Tennessee and HealthyBar, a podcast centered on attorney wellbeing. The shows are now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn and the TBA’s website. Simply search the show title or “Tennessee Bar Association” wherever you listen to podcasts.

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New TBA Member Benefit: Group Health Insurance!

The Tennessee Bar Association and TBA Member Insurance Solutions have been diligently working with Humana to bring TBA employer members an affordable association group health insurance plan. The fully-funded plan is available exclusively to TBA members. Enrollment is open now and ends Dec. 1. Get a quote or enroll today. Have questions? Contact us at tbams@tnbar.org or call 423-629-2400 x264.

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Solo Attorney Interested in Group Health Insurance? Here's Help

You’re in luck! As a solo attorney, you’re eligible for the TBA's new association group health insurance plan if you have at least one W-2 employee working 30+ hours per week. Rates may be as much as 30% less than what you are paying. Guaranteed issue coverage, no health questions and no pre-existing condition exclusions! Enroll or get a quote today. Contact the TBA for more information or call 423-629-2400 x264.

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Volunteers Needed for New Nashville Legal Clinic

Legal Aid Society will host its Downtown Free Legal Clinic at the Nashville Public Library on Sept. 4 from 4 – 6 p.m., CDT. This is a new monthly service where lawyers can provide counsel and advice to those who otherwise could not afford it. The legal clinic will be held the first Wednesday of each month at this same time and location. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Kendra Cheek, 615-780-7131.

When: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 4 – 6 p.m., CDT

Where: Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St., Nashville

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Eminem's Publishing Company Sues Spotify in Nashville Court

The publishing company for hip hop icon Eminem has filed a lawsuit against Spotify in Nashville, Fox 17 reports. Publisher Eight Mile Style LLC. owns and controls Eminem's compositions and claims in the suit Spotify is unauthorized to use his music and is in violation of the Constitution. The suit claims Spotify disregarded the exclusive rights of Eight Mile Style by not licensing the rights to distribute or reproduce Eminem's compositions. The suit states "even after the Music Modernization Act of 2018, Spotify did not comply with its requirements."
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Federal Lawsuit: Rutherford Jail Infringed on Tech Company's Patent

Rutherford County jail officials are entangled in a federal lawsuit after a company called Smart Communications accused them infringing upon its patented technology that transformed written mail into an electronic version sent directly to inmates, the Daily News Journal reports. The lawsuit states that in mid-2017 Smart Communications employees met with Rutherford County jail officials to demonstrate the technology that was covered by an asserted patent while the patent application was pending. The next year, talks with Smart Communications ended, and the jail started working with another company, using an application that seemed to Smart to be very similar to its own.
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Clio Practice Management Tutorials and Discount

TBA members get a 10% lifetime discount on Clio, a practice management tool. Take these free tutorials on client matter managementintake best practices, how to build intake forms and billing. Sign up for Clio today and use your member discount.

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Johns Hopkins Health Policy Expert, White House Health Policy Advisor to Speak at TBA Health Law Forum

The Tennessee Bar Association’s Health Law Section has selected Johns Hopkins health policy expert and New York Times bestselling author Marty Makary, M.D., M.P.H. along with health care policy advisor Larry Van Horn as the keynote speakers for its 31st Annual Health Law Forum to take place on Oct. 17-18 in Franklin. Makary has written for The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, TIME, Newsweek and regularly appears on various news networks as a health care expert. Van Horn has advised the state of Tennessee on health policy and is currently working with the White House on issues related to price transparency in health care markets — regularly meeting with the White House, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Federal Trade Commission on the topic. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear from the preeminent voices in today’s health care sector and enjoy other exceptional programming from top players in the field. Here are the key details:

When: Oct. 17-18; registration begins at 7 a.m., CDT on Thursday, Oct. 17

Where: Embassy Suites Cool Springs, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin, TN 37067

REGISTER NOW

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Aug. 30 Deadline: 36th Annual TBA Academy & U.S. Supreme Court Admissions Ceremony

If admission to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court is one of your career goals, don’t miss the opportunity to make it a reality during the 36th Annual TBA Academy on Nov. 3-4 in Washington, D.C., where a select group of Tennessee attorneys will be able to take part in a private admissions ceremony at the court. Prior to the private swearing-in ceremony, admittees are invited to attend a President's Reception and special dinner to celebrate with colleagues and bar leadership. The registration deadline to participate in this opportunity is Aug. 30. You can learn more and register here.

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Katy Perry, Writers and Label Hit With $2.78 Million Decision

Katy Perry, her collaborators and record label must pay more than $2.78 million because the pop star's 2013 hit "Dark Horse" copied a Christian rap song, a jury decided earlier this month. The Associated Press article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press said much of the debate was over how much money little-known rapper Marcus Gray should receive in damages. Because the rhythmic instrumental riff from Gray’s "Joyful Noise" plays through 45% of "Dark Horse," his attorneys sought 45% of the entire earnings of Perry's album "Prism," on which the "Dark Horse" song appears. 

For additional insight into this decision, read this recent IP Watchdog article which presents three structural problems with current music copyright law and presents one potential solution. 

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Member Access to Solo Practice Toolkit

The TBA offers a user-friendly guide for new solo and small firm attorneys opening their own practices. The information contained in the TBA Solo in a Box Toolkit was gathered from numerous existing TBA resources, practitioners from across the state and input from TBA Sections. Start with exploring business structures most often used for solo and small firm practice.

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Top Video Conferencing Options for Attorneys

In a blog for the ABA Journal, author Nicole Black breaks down videoconferencing tools that provide the security and encryption attorneys need. Google Hangouts and Slack both provide standard encryption, which would be sufficient for most lawyers. For lawyers who require an even more secure connection with end-to-end encryption, Black recommends GoToMeeting with Webex enabled, Skype for Business and Zoom, as well as secure messaging tools Signal and WhatsApp.
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Tune in to TBA Podcast Network

The Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network is home to a collection of podcasts for the Tennessee attorney. Sidebar features human interest stories from attorneys across the state. BarBuzz is a monthly rundown of TBA news and upcoming events at the local and state bar levels and HealthyBar offers tips and guidance on attorney well being. All three shows are now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn and the TBA's website. Simply search the show title or "Tennessee Bar Association" wherever you listen to podcasts. Do you have a story lead you'd like to submit for a future episode? Submit your ideas here.

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Better Research Support at No Additional Cost

Your membership includes full access to Fastcase for your legal research needs. As your legal research ninja, Fascase tracks recent searches and documents so you can track when you ran your searches. Research attorneys are available to assist with research or navigating the database. Start using your member benefit now. You can contact Fastcase by email, using the LiveChat feature located on the Fastcase website, or by phone to speak with a research attorney.

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