Fake News, Troubled Celebrity Endorsements & Social Media

On Tuesday, July 24, 2018, I had the privilege of presenting a live, interactive, video-conference program and course entitled “A Perfect Storm: The Intersection of Fake News, Celebrity Endorsements & Social Media,” sponsored by Lawline.
The course was broadcast live and also recorded at Lawline’s Studio in lower Manhattan and is now available for on-demand viewing at Lawline.com. With permission, I have also posted a PDF of the PowerPoint visuals used during the presentation (although you will not be able to see the embedded videos) and you can view or download a copy for your personal use right here: A Perfect Storm: The Intersection of Fake News, Celebrity Endorsements & Social Media

As always, if you need more information, you can contact me directly (Joe Rosenbaum) or any of the Rimon attorneys with whom you regularly work.

Poet’s Corner

On May 31, 1819, one of the greatest American poets, Walt Whitman, was born. A native New Yorker, Whitman grew up in Brooklyn and became the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle External. Over time he started experimenting with poetry without a regular rhythm or rhyme – now referred to as ‘free verse.’ His famous poem Leaves of Grass was first published anonymously in 1855, but he kept revising and enlarging the poem – the final, ninth edition was published in 1892, the year Walt Whitman died.
P.S. Walt Whitman shares a birth date (but not the same year) with Clint Eastwood.

NVCA Updates Its Series A Model Legal Documents

Dror Futter, Partner
Rimon, P.C.

Since the early 2000’s, the National Venture Capital Association has maintained model legal agreements for Series A venture financings.  These forms are the templates for most of the Series A financings in the United States and are periodically updated to adjust to changes in the market and the legal/regulatory environment.

The most recent update includes additional provisions for life science investments, shareholder approval rights for ICOs and an option for alternative dispute resolution under the Delaware Rapid Arbitration Act.

Rimon Law partner Dror Futter, a member of the NVCA model forms drafting group, provides an expanded summary of the changes in the most recent update in the following client alert you can read right here: NVCA Updates Its Series A Model Legal Documents.

If you have any questions or want further information, feel free to contact Dror Futter directly and, of course, you can contact me, Joe Rosenbaum or any of the attorneys at Rimon Law with whom you regularly work.

The Blockchain Ecosystem

Dror Futter, a Venture Capital and Technology Partner at Rimon, P.C. has authored a comprehensive update on the state of blockchain law, which has been published by The Journal of PLI Press, the quarterly journal of the Practicing Law Institute The Current, (Winter 2018 Edition; Vol. 2, No. 1, Winter 2018 – Page 21.   The article summarizes developments in the blockchain ecosystem to date, draws attention to considerations that participants in that ecosystem should take into account and also highlights many currently unanswered legal questions.

In addition to a growing blockchain practice, Mr. Futter focuses his practice on startup companies and their investors, and has worked with a wide range of technology companies.  You can read the entire article right here: Blockchain Law ICO Regulation and Other Legal Considerations in the Blockchain Ecosystem and if you need more information you can contact Mr. Futter directly or if you want to know more about his practice click here.  Of course, you can always contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work.

 

Streaming Music to be Streamlined

A bipartisan Congressional group wants to bring the Copyright Act into the digital age of streaming with the Music Modernization Act. Somewhat unusual in the world of new legislation, the bill seems to have garnered support from music publishers, songwriters and the digital streaming services that distribute the music.  The House version is H.R. 4706  and Senate version is S.2334.

While there are a number of areas the proposed legislation seeks to update, the heart of this legislation is a major change in the way streaming services pay ‘mechanical’ royalties – the commissions paid to songwriters and publishers when their musical compositions are recorded or reproduced. Currently, under Section 115 of the Copyright Act, anyone can automatically get a license to reproduce a musical composition – to get access to the song, simply file a Notice of Intention through the Copyright Office and pay a set rate. But streaming music services complain they can’t find the authors for every single song and songwriters view the music services claims as an excuse to avoid paying royalties until (and if) they are sued.

Although the new Act won’t prohibit the digital music business from negotiating license agreements directly with the copyright owners, the new Act would create a central database called the “Mechanical Licensing Collective” and instead of requiring individual “Notices,” streaming music companies could pay a blanket license fee for their on-demand, digital music services (e.g. streaming music). The ‘Collective’ would be responsible for allocating payments of these mechanical royalties, which go to songwriters and publishers when their musical compositions are recorded or reproduced, to the rightful owners. The blanket license would cover every song in the Collective’s database – a database funded by the streaming music services, but administered by the music publishers. For the digital music companies, it would eliminate the liability associated with infringement lawsuits from songwriters and publishers since now the database administrators would be responsible for identifying the owner and making sure payments are made.

Which brings us to another major change the Act would implement. Currently, the Copyright Royalty Board, sets the rates paid for mechanical licenses, based on a set of public-interest directives known as 801(b)(1) factors which are intended, in essence, to balance competing interests – availability to the public versus the disruptive effect on the parties in interest. The new Act would use a more ‘fair market value’ type system (already used to set digital radio performance royalty rates) that would be intended to more closely resemble free-market dynamics.

There are numerous other changes the legislation would make to existing licensing and royalty schemes. For example, today, the major music licensing services (e.g., ASCAP, BMI) consistently have the same 2 judges that oversee the rate courts which decide compensation for songwriters. The new legislation would eliminate that process and assign judges, as with other Federal litigation, on a randomly rotating basis. The Act would also repeal the current rule (Section 114(i)) that prevents courts from hearing certain types of evidence when considering the calculation of performance royalties – the money paid when a musical composition is broadcast on radio or otherwise publicly (e.g., elevators, health clubs, etc.).
With broad bipartisan support and industry consensus, it seems likely the the Music Modernization Act, at least in some form closely resembling the bills introduced in both the House and Senate, will become law in the current Congressional session. Stay tuned – literally!

Rimon has lawyers with decades of experience in the music industry, representing artists, as well as publishers and industry associations and if you have questions, need help or would like to know more, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the lawyers at Rimon with whom you regularly work.

Best Wishes for 2018

To all my Legal Bytes subscribers, fans, readers, family and friends, thank you!

I would like to take a moment and wish all of you a joyous holiday season and health, happiness, success and peace in 2018 and beyond. . . and now I would ask you to take about 4 minutes out of your busy schedule, put down your mobile phones, tablets and video game consoles, click to start the video and take your hands off the keyboard to listen and watch and just enjoy . .

 

 

Now That the FCC Has Acted . . . .

In case you missed it (see my previous Legal Bytes post Inter Net Neutrality), the International Law Office was kind enough to post an adapted version of the article in its IT & Internet Newsletter.   If you are not already a subscriber to ILO, you can read a PDF version of my post, Internet Neutrality, right here.  Now that the FCC has rolled back the Obama-era regulations, the battle continues to rage over whether that is good or bad for the Internet, the economy, innovation and each of the groups aligned on one side or the other of this fray.

Note for you historical buffs – the Internet was made available to commercial enterprises in 1981.  By 1984, “.com” had overtaken .gov, .mil and .edu as the largest URL suffix and it wasn’t until recently, during the FCC’s tenure under President Obama, that new regulations regarding neutrality were implemented.  I know, I know, times have changed – but be mindful that someone far wiser than I noted: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

What is an “Ad” These Days?

–  Joseph I. Rosenbaum

On Friday, December 8, 2017, I had the privilege of presenting a seminar, hosted by Lawline, entitled “Augmented, Native and Interactive: The New World of Digital & Mobil Advertising.”  This was broadcast live on the Web and recorded for subsequent on demand viewing and was my second presentation at Lawline.  The first “Online & Mobile Digital Interactive Advertising: Video Games, Branded Entertainment, Native Advertising and Beyond” remains available as a web-based, on demand offering at Lawline.

This seminar provided an update on many of the concepts and principles discussed in the first program, including some basic principles of advertising law that applies in both the traditional and digital/mobile environment and provided updated information on game advertising – both advertising the game and in-game advertising – as well native advertising and guidance from the Federal Trade Commission.  This recent session also delved into a number of digital and mobile advertising issues that were not part of the first presentation, such as celebrity endorsements, bloggers, experts & consumer testimonials in social media, augmented reality and advertising in virtual worlds, programmatic buying and the current tensions in the industry concerning transparency and relationships between advertisers and integrated agencies.  You can view the slide images of my presentation “The New World of Digital & Mobil Advertising” and, of course, you can view the recorded session which is available exclusively through Lawline.

As always, if you need assistance or require any additional information, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, at Rimon, P.C.