Copyright Law

This course provides an in-depth study of copyright law and its protection of the intangible property rights of authors.  Copyright law reflects the rich and complex international business framework through which the expression of creative ideas is governed, whether in terms of creation, marketing, distribution, exhibition or litigation.  Knowledge of copyright law has innumerable industry applications and, like trademark law, is of particular and critical importance to both transactional and litigation practitioners in the fields of entertainment, media, fashion, art, and technology. This course is a prerequisite for most of Southwestern’s domestic entertainment courses and externship placements.

Following the completion of this course, the student should be able to demonstrate a foundational understanding of copyright law in the United States, including the prerequisites for federal copyright protection, the duration and character of the rights of authors, moral rights, licensing, and infringement. Students will apply their knowledge to various issues that arise in the creative, communication and technology industries. The international aspects of copyright law are addressed in a separate course at Southwestern entitled “International Comparative Intellectual Property Law.”

Entertainment and the Evolving Web

This one-unit, eight-week, mini-term course is an advanced writing course that introduces students to how the Internet in general, and blogs in particular, influence the practice of law. Students will be taught a wide range of practical research and writing skills, with special instruction on blogs, blogging, and social media. Students will establish and write articles for their own blog. They will learn about choosing a “voice” for their blog, and how to structure their blog to make it “visible” online. Students will analyze a variety of entertainment-related legal issues, and prepare well-researched, crisply written, online posts for Southwestern’s new Entertainment Law Blog. Students will also complete a research project that explores how lawyers in the greater Los Angeles entertainment law community employ the web, blogs, and websites to inform, communicate and promote their practices.

Prerequisite: Copyright Law (538)or Intellectual Property (542).

Entertainment Law Blog (www.BiedermanBlog.com)

This two-unit course is a continuation of the Entertainment Law and Web 2.0 (561M) mini-term course. Those who successfully completed the mini-term course will become a member of the Entertainment Law Blog program for the semester following the mini-term course. The two units will be earned for completing a minimum of 128 hours as a blog staffer (the same number of hours as a two-unit externship). Students taking the class will be part of an innovative new project to define, establish and support Southwestern’s  Entertainment Law Blog: a content aggregation website focused on daily developments in entertainment law.

Prerequisites: Copyright Law (538) and Entertainment Law and Web 2.0 (561M).

Fashion Law - 2 Units

The objective of Fashion Law is to provide foundational legal knowledge and skills in areas that new attorneys are likely to encounter should they pursue fashion law in either solo or firm practice. Those areas include relevant legal concepts within copyright, trademark, patent, sui generis protection, misappropriation, the FTC, international trade, labor and employment; and skills including, brand building, licensing, collaborative negotiating, advising start-ups, technology, and client management.

Entertainment Litigation

This course provides an introduction to the pre-trial aspects of entertainment litigation.  Civil litigation is the single most popular area of practice among attorneys. Litigation attorneys, also known as “litigators” or “trial lawyers,” represent plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases and manage all phases of the litigation process from investigation, pleadings and discovery to pre-trial, trial, settlement, and appeal.  Matters commonly litigated in the entertainment industry include copyright infringement, trademark infringement, breach of contract or implied contract, defamation, invasion of privacy, and violation of publicity rights… with disputes arising out of virtually all sectors of the business, including film, television, music, technology, media, art, fashion and sports.  As the fundamental elements of entertainment litigation are too voluminous to be covered in a single course, this course covers the pre-trial process, leaving trial issues to be addressed in a general trial advocacy course.

Prerequisite: Copyright Law (538 or 538A).

Following the completion of this course, the student should be able conduct a chronologically linear analysis of the various pre-trial actions associated with entertainment litigation, including demand letters and mediation, pleadings commencing the action (such as complaints or demands for arbitration), responsive pleadings such as answers, demurrers and motions to dismiss, discovery, consultation with clients, engaging expert witnesses, attending pre-trial conferences and the development of trial strategy. There will be an emphasis on actual entertainment cases which have been litigated in federal and state courts and arbitrations.

 

The Music Publishing Industry

This course provides an overview of the legal and business aspects of the music publishing industry, which itself is a major part of the entire entertainment ecosystem. It is a complex field, composed of a framework of legal regulations and evolving business practices. It governs virtually every aspect of the music business, including recorded music, film, television, video games, commercials, and live performance.  A music publisher represents composers, songwriters, and the musical compositions they create. The related copyrights, owned and administered by publishing companies, are among the most important forms of intellectual property in the music business. Music publishers exploit these rights in a variety of ways, including samples, synchronization licenses for film and television, digital licenses with streaming services, and mechanical licenses for recordings.

Prerequisite: Copyright Law (538 or 538A).

Following the completion of this course, the student should be able to demonstrate a foundational understanding of the music publishing industry, including the various types of earnings, customary and standard terms of the various songwriter/publishing agreements, the functions of performing rights organizations (e.g., ASCAP/BMI/SESAC), domestic vs. foreign considerations, and strategies for negotiations and drafting.

 

Sports Law

This course provides an analysis of the sports industries and the laws which attempt to regulate their function and behavior.  The sports market in North America was worth $60.5 billion in 2014, and is expected to reach $73.5 billion by 2019. Projected increases in media rights deals represent the biggest growth factor, and are expected to surpass gate revenues as the sports industry’s largest segment.  The private rules of the national and international sports world as established by organizations such as the NFL, NBA, NHL, UFC and the IOC form the main governing body of the sports industry, along with labor law, contract law, competition or antitrust law, and tort law. Issues like defamation and privacy rights also represent fundamental aspects of the business.

Following the completion of this course, the student should be able to demonstrate a foundational understanding of the principles of how professional and college sports are regulated in the United States, including policy issues and theories underlying professional and college sports law, the various basic agreements, the landscape associated with representing the professional athlete, players’ unions, management perspectives, and exposure to many of the different areas of law that impact the nation’s sports industry on a daily basis.

Trademark Law

This course surveys the law of trademarks and unfair competition, including the right of publicity and other related statutory and common law schemes.  A trademark is a word, symbol, phrase or other device used to identify the products or services of a particular manufacturer or provider and distinguish them from those of another. For example, the trademark “Apple” (along with its famous silhouette image) identifies the computers and other products produced by Apple Inc. and distinguishes them from the products of Microsoft, Google and others. Trademark protection can also extend to other aspects of a product or service, such as its color, its packaging, its sound, or even its smell.  Knowledge of trademark law has innumerable industry applications and, like copyright law, is of critical importance to both transactional and litigation practitioners in the fields of entertainment, media, fashion, art and technology. At Southwestern, Trademark Law is particularly recommended for anyone seeking to enroll in the Unscripted Television Production Law course.

Following the completion of this course, the student should be able to demonstrate a foundational understanding of the discipline, including the prerequisites for common law and federal trademark protection, the protections offered by section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, secondary meaning, generic terms, subject matter, trade dress, functionality, ownership, registration, infringement, dilution, cybersquatting, defenses and remedies. Throughout the course, students will apply their knowledge to various issues that arise in the creative, communication and technology industries.