Friday, October 24, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Anyone who knows me knows of my admiration/obsession for John Lennon and the Beatles. I am also a more recent admirer of Yoko Ono (it took a while to get over those scenes from “Let it Be”). I am also a fan of Ben Stein. My wife and I used to be addicted to the show “Win Ben Stein’s Money”. Therefore the recent legal confrontation between Yoko and Ben Stein over the unauthorized use of John Lennon’s “Imagine” in Stein’s movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” was irresistible.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
There has been a great deal of press lately concerning artists and songwriters attempting to stop political parties from using their songs without permission, thereby implying an endorsement. There are probably earlier examples but everyone recalls Ronald Reagan’s attempt to use Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the
Monday, October 6, 2008
You would probably have to live in
Saturday, October 4, 2008
About a year ago, I wrote a letter to all of my clients telling them that they needed to have wills, especially if they had children or estates of any consequence. Here’s how the letter read:
To my clients and friends:
I don’t want this letter to sound presumptuous. However, recently, two events made me think seriously about one of the basic legal necessities: the need to have a will. In one case, a friend passed away without a will, leaving chaos and confusion in her passing. Although various people assumed that they knew what her wishes were, no one knew for sure. I am afraid that her intentions may not be carried out.
In another instance, my ten year old daughter began asking what would happen to her if both her parents died. Although I assured her that we had wills, a trust and a guardian in place for her, I also had to tell her that my wife and I spent several uncertain years without wills while we debated the issue of who her guardian would be.
I have been thinking a great deal about these issues and these events just reinforced the need to have a will in place to lay out your specific intentions should something happen to you prematurely. If you don’t have children, it’s still important to make your wishes known. If you do have children it is a necessity to provide for their care and support. Also, since a lot of my clients are songwriters and artists, it is important that you think about the disposition of your intellectual property. You need to be aware of specific provisions of the Copyright Act that might apply to your circumstances.
None of this is meant to sound alarming but I was beginning to think that it was irresponsible not to at least address these concerns with my clients. If you want to consult with me regarding drafting a will, trust or estate plan, please don’t hesitate to call me or e-mail me. Also, if you have a will that is more than five years old it is always a good idea to review it to make sure it is up to date with your current situation. I have learned that the selection of a guardian for minor children often changes as our children grow. It’s also important to have a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and a living will. Let me know if I can be of assistance to you in any of these areas.
A couple of my clients told me that they thought this was good marketing on my part, but it was not meant as a marketing tool; I was (and I am) really serious about this. I have seen too many people not have their wishes carried out because of poor or non-existent estate planning. This is why I have grown more interested in this area. It is absolutely essential.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
This case underscores the point that I (and every other entertainment lawyer on the planet) have always made to bands who are about to achieve any level of success: you have to have an agreement in writing with your bandmates. Even with an amicable departure, there will always be room for misunderstanding and misinterpretation. A well drafted partnership agreement can't solve every problem but it will certainly help in the event of a disagreement. Furthermore, a departing member's right to compensation needs to be dealt with as close to the departure date as possible.