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2014 USC Institute on Entertainment Law & Business Recap

By Julie Kessler Roach, Esq.
NARIP Atlanta Board Member

The 2014 USC Institute on Entertainment Law and Business (IELB) was the opportunity of a lifetime.  It’s the best and most well-run conference of its kind.  Speakers ranged from top-level executives at major corporations to private practice attorneys who represent high net worth celebrities and members of the media.  These are the movers and shakers of the entertainment business!  USC Gould School of Law and the Beverly Hills Bar Association have hosted IELB for over 50 years.  The legacy of excellence continues, and it sold out once again this year.

Attendees receive a digital download syllabus (and a CD-ROM or full 150-page binder) packed with PowerPoint presentations, sample contracts, articles, and valuable analyses, as well as landmark court decisions that are changing the face of our business.  In fact, I’m still working through the syllabus a week after the conference; this material will be a resource for years to come.  The breakfast, coffee breaks and lunch were all great times to network with other attendees, speakers, and event organizers.  Special thanks to Bruce Ramer, Mark Halloran, Mary Ledding, Leeanna Izuel, and the Planning and Syllabus Committees for putting together such a wonderful conference.

L-R; NARIP President Tess Taylor, Planning Committee Co-Chair Mary S. Ledding, luncheon keynote speaker Sir Howard Stringer, Co-Chair Mark E. Halloran and USC Gould School of Law Executive Director Leeanna Izuel

Here are highlights from the sessions I attended.

The Industry: Trends, Fads and Transformation (Part IV)

IELB kicked off with Jeffrey Cole (USC Center for the Digital Future) who delivered the opening keynote for the 4th year in a row (back by popular demand), summarizing key recent developments and giving us a peak into the future.

L-R: Chairman & CEO of The Jackal Group Gail Berman, Amazon Studios Director Roy Price, Gang Tyre Ramer & Brown’s Tara Kole (moderator), Xbox Entertainment Studios President Nancy Tellem and and NBC Universal EVP of Business Operations Cable Entertainment Beth Roberts


Television: Are Contents and Deals Becoming Unplugged?

Moderator: Tara Kole (Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown, Inc.)

Panelists: Gail Berman (Chairman & CEO of The Jackal Group), Roy Price (Director, Amazon Studios), Beth Roberts (EVP, Business Operations Cable Entertainment, NBC Universal), and Nancy Tellem (President, Xbox Entertainment Studios)

The Now and Future of Movie Theaters

Moderator: Mary S. Ledding (Institute Co-Chair)

Panelists: John Fithian (President & CEO, National Association of Theater Owners), Nicolas Gonda (Co-Founder & CEO, Tugg Inc.), and Veronika Kwan Vandenberg (President, International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures International)

L-R: Liner LLP’s Stanton “Larry” Stein (moderator), Davis Wright Tremaine’s Elizabeth A. McNamara, Greenberg Glusker’s Bert Fields and Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro’s Patricia L. Glaser


Litigation Hot Button Issues: Individual Rights and IP Rights

Moderator: Stanton “Larry” Stein (Liner LLP)

Panelists: Bert Fields (Greenberg Glusker), Patricia L. Glaser (Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro LLP), and Elizabeth A. McNamara (Davis Wright Tremaine LLP)

This discussion focused on defamation, rights of privacy and publicity, and copyright, touching on recent court decisions.

o   Must prove likelihood of success on the merits without any discovery

o   This is a substantive right and applies to federal court

o   Meant to prevent frivolous lawsuits and protect 1st Amendment rights


Domain Names v. Trademarks: Conflicts and Resolutions

Moderator: Thomas A. White (Artist Rights Consultant)

Panelists: Akram Atallah (President, Global Domains Division, ICANN), Monique Cheng Joe (VP, Trademark Counsel, NBC Universal), and Stephen J. Strauss (Fulwider Patton LLP)

This panel was a flashback from my Internet Law class in law school, but provided a best practice and real-world strategy piece to what I learned in class.  The discussion centered on top level domain names and what can be done to protect your domain name.

o   The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) is an effective way to police and protect your trademarks.  Registration is only $75 or $100.

o   Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) is one way to enforce domain name trademark rights, but the only remedy is suspension and the action is brought with the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) or Asian Domain Name Resolution Centre (ADNRC) and not WIPO.

o   Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) is a good way to enforce your domain name trademark rights because the remedy is cancellation or transfer of the domain name, but the plaintiff must prove bad faith.  These actions are brought in front of WIPO, NAF, or ADNRC.

o   Post Delegation Dispute Resolution Process (PDDRP) is another way to enforce domain name rights.

o   The WHOIS directory domain name searched and registrant’s email, but this is hard to police and sometimes inaccurate.


L-R: Kevin Lyman (Creator, Vans Warped Tour, CEO, 4Fini), Marc Geiger (Co-Founder Lollapalooza, Worldwide Head of Music, WME Entertainment), John Boyle (Chief Growth Officer, Interim CFO, Insomniac Events), and Todd Cooper (Greenberg Traurig, LLP)

Music Festivals: From Woodstock to Coachella

Moderator: Todd Cooper (Greenberg Traurig, LLP)

Panelists: John Boyle (Chief Growth Officer, Interim CFO, Insomniac Events), Marc Geiger (Co-Founder Lollapalooza, Worldwide Head of Music, WME Entertainment), Kevin Lyman (Creator, Vans Warped Tour, CEO, 4Fini)

Panelists conveyed that the festival economy is healthy and growing internationally with plenty of opportunity, but not without challenges.

o   Promoter and artist agree on a geographic span and time period
o   Bigger acts have a tighter radius clause, and are usually paid more
o   2-3 months before show date, 1 month after, and 120 miles is standard
o   Clauses can carve out or include advertised events, after-parties, headliner shows
o   Competitor festivals can be specifically mentioned
o   Playing a festival is a very cheap way to play in front of non-core fans.  If an act is good  live, they can make lots of new fans very quickly.

o   Contracts with artists put liability on artist if they call for a Wall of Death, jump off the stage, leave the stage, or incite.

o   Lawsuits determine where the responsibility lands for personal injury.  Is it on the band, promoter, or festival?  This is key in instances of drug overdoses and death, a real headache for promoters.

o   Weather – evacuation plans, stage collapsing, infrastructure issues

o   Crowd control

o   No agencies used to be in place to rate safety of a festival.  It was just the fire marshal.  Now there are control centers with 60-80 cameras, there is much more planning and expense.

o   There are also issues with local government that require attention.


L-R: NARIP’s Julie Kessler Roach, Vincent Loris, Tess Taylor and USC Planning Committee / music and entertainment attorney Judith Dornstein

About Julie K. Roach

Julie Kessler Roach is a NARIP Board Member and entertainment attorney who practices law to support artists and creatives in the advancement of their careers, and to ensure that their works are respected and protected.  She also works for the Georgia Lawyers for the Arts, a non-profit that provided pro bono legal services and educational programming to artists.  She enjoys craft beers, live concerts, playing her saxophone and lounging in her hammock Follow her at @JulieKRoach.

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