Posts Tagged ‘RIAA’

Blawg Review #273

The future of the legal industry? Photo by brookenovak.

We’ve had the honor of being selected to host this week’s Blawg Review. Blawg Review is a long-running carnival of legal blog posts with a rotating cast of hosts, each offering their own spin on what’s bubbling up in their practice areas. So, without further ado, the following hot news on three important topics we discuss frequently on 95years – the music industry, journalism, and the legal industry.

The Future of the Music Industry

We would be remiss not to lead with this post from Ray Beckerman’s Recording Industry vs. the People blog, which chronicles the RIAA’s oft-questionable fight against piracy. Ray’s post set the Internet ablaze by revealing that after throwing close to $64 million at Biglaw firms over the past 3 years, the industry group has only managed to recover $1.3 million from lawsuits and settlements.

Clearly, lawsuits and settlements are failing to make up the digital divide. But record sales were not traditionally where musicians made their money–the big bucks have traditionally come from touring. The success of festivals like Coachella and tours like Lady Gaga’s wildly popular Monster Ball had convinced many in the music industry that live events would remain a welcoming port in the storm for artists.

This week, however, megapromoter Live Nation watched its stock slip a whopping 21% after announcing a major decline in ticket sales.  This included a 15% drop in sales for the company’s top 100 tours. Music industry blog Digital Music News sifted through the company’s presentation and breaks down the anatomy of a concert ticket. Worth noting is that roughly 25% of a ticket price comes from every concertgoer’s favorite – the “service fee.”

The Future of the Journalism Industry

The journalism industry is struggling as well, as daily print newspaper readership continues to decline along with advertising revenues. Patrick at Popehat reports on a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed in which Columbia University president Lee Bollinger advances one potential solution: increased public funding for journalism.

Patrick is, shall we say, a little skeptical that the news media would be able to remain objective in its reporting about the government after an influx of public funds. Noting that CNN “has been nearly alone among big media types in seriously complaining about government restrictions in reporting on the [Gulf oil] disaster,” he asks, “would CNN have the guts to do so if it was expecting a big check from a very political administration at the end of the quarter?”

The Future of the Legal Industry

Further belaboring the “in this economy” theme, let’s turn to law practice. Summer associate season is in full swing, and as both writers of this blog are hardworking ‘08 grads, we’re slowly getting used to getting unfairly painted with the “slackoisie” brush.  Summers at Paul Hastings aren’t exactly helping the cause, as this interview with hiring partner Leigh Ryan, entitled “Lose the Arrogance and the Chewing Gum,” points out.

If you’re not sure what we mean by “slackoisie,” visit What About Clients? or Simple Justice, where blawgers Dan Hull (WAC?) and Scott Greenfield (SJ) are apt to be discussing the deficiencies of the younger generation of attorneys, characterizing us as “Teletubbies” (Hull) or a “generation of entitled narcissists” (Greenfield). Just this past week, Hull’s alter ego, Holden Oliver, went to town on Law People’s post “Will Law Schools Help Build a Healthier Profession?”, which argues that law schools have an obligation to concern themselves with students’ psychological health and help those students “understand [their] strengths and values and how well they match with those of the profession and individual firm [they hope] to join.” (Note: I originally mentioned Eric Turkewitz as a frequent critic of young attorneys; although he’s blogged on the “slackoisie,” I really meant Scott Greenfield, who coined the phrase “generation of entitled narcissists,” per Mr. Turkewitz.)

Hull/Oliver’s response was that law is a tough business and that it would be better to sift out our generation’s psychologically fragile “lames” and “weenies” before they graduate law school and weaken the ranks of the profession any further. This argument, based on the unstated presumption that lawyers should aspire to and prepare for practice in a private firm with corporate clients, ignores the fact that Type-A obsessiveness is not necessarily an asset in every area of the law. For instance, I’m not sure you’d want your collaborate divorce attorney to be a wallpaper-chewing workaholic.

What’s more, LP’s post correctly presumes that there are people in law school, or already finished with law school, who aren’t going to do well in certain work environments common in law practice, and from that premise simply concludes that law schools should work to give those people, already on their way to becoming lawyers, the self-knowledge to help them find appropriate niches.

That said, WAC? isn’t wrong when it states that lawyering is in most instances a tough, stressful and competitive profession, and it is becoming even moreso as the legal industry struggles with the recession. Given that, why even go to law school in 2010?  At Above the Law, editor David Lat offers “In Defense of Going to Law School.” It’s a valiant effort, but by his third bullet point–”What else are you going to do with yourself?”–it’s clear that the pro-law-school argument is a hard one to make at present.

(Oh and if you’re wondering why we young lawyers are such entitled weenies: like everything else, it’s probably the legal system’s fault in the first place. See Walter Olson’s post on Overlawyered entitled “Courts Reward Helicopter Parents.”)

Back to those of us already through the law-school wringer: if Biglaw increasingly disdains newly minted JDs, where should we bother to look for jobs? Document review is always an option. The pay is decent, and the low level of accountability and countless hours spent in front of a computer works well for this apparently lazy, tech-obsessed generation. There’s even a slim chance that the pay rate is about to go up. A New York contract attorney is suing Labaton Sucharow, claiming that the firm was required to pay him overtime for any hours worked over 40 per week.

There are two ways this case can go. Either it gets thrown out because New York state recognizes the Fair Labor Standards Act’s professional exemption for lawyers, or the court holds that document review is not actually considered the practice of law. Don’t count on the latter, though–especially not in the Southern District of New York.

Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

–Joe and Richard


Former RIAA chief Rosen in at BP

I’ve been looking for an angle to somehow tie the oil spill in the gulf to media and tech law and aside from a fair use discussion related to people parodying the BP logo, it’s been sparse.   Today, however, Digital Music News reported that ex-RIAA chief Hilary Rosen has been hired by BP to help handle damage control for the embattled oil company in DC.  Rosen, aside from being the head of the RIAA during the fight against Napster, also helped with the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.   Rosen is a super-powerful asset for BP in this fight.  Hiring Rosen and other beltway insiders like Alex Castellanos, former aide to George W. Bush is just a small part of BP’s multi-million dollar PR campaign to try and take some of the heat off of the company.  We’ll see how that works out for them.


Media and Copyright Law News Roundup

Righthaven LLC, the holding company which has been obtaining the copyrights to Las Vegas Review-Journal articles and suing alleged infringers, just filed its fourteenth copyright infringement suit, this time against a sports betting website, for reprinting Review-Journal articles without permission.

Lawyers for the Associated Press argue in the National Law Journal that the holding in Barclays Capital Inc. v., No. 06 Civ. 4908, 2010 WL 1005160 (S.D.N.Y. March 18, 2010), a recent case in which the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that news organizations have a duty to police against appropriation of their reporting in order to recover under the “hot news” theory of infringement, unwisely undermines newsgathering incentives.  (The “hot news” doctrine is a sort of cousin of copyright which allows gatherers of time-sensitive information to prevent competitors from free-riding on their labor.)

Wired reports that copyright lawsuits plunged nationwide in 2009, after the RIAA’s abandonment of its “sue ‘em all” litigation strategy, which it pursued from 2005 to 2008.