creative commons

Music Business Panel at Denton -- 35 Conferette

Updated: March 14, 2011: The Dallas Observer Blog has an interesting article on the "Music Business Legal Checklist" panel that was presented as part of the 2011 35 Conferette.

Dallas and Fort Worth music lawyers team up for a "basics" music business legal issues panel on March 10, 2011 at Denton Banter as part of the Day Events for the 35 Conferette music conference.

Music Business Legal Check List: Five Things You Better Think About and DoSponsored by the Dallas Bar Sports and Entertainment Law Section Thursday, March 10th from 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM at Banter, 219 West Oak Street, Denton, TX 76201

This free and open to the public presentation will assist the new or established musician/artist/music business professional in navigating the ins-and-outs of legal issues involved in the music business. The panel will address 1) when key team members such as a manager, attorney or booking agent should become involved in an artist’s career; 2) who owns the content – songs, sound recordings, trademarks; 3) do you need a written agreement or is a hand-shake between the band members enough; 4) how do you raise money for the next record; and 5) what revenue streams are out there.

ModeratorTamera H. Bennett: Attorney, Bennett Law Office, PC; President, Farm To Market Music, LLC, Lewisville, TX

PanelistsMegan M. Carpenter: Associate Professor & Director, Center for Law & Intellectual Property, Texas Wesleyan School of Law, Fort Worth, TX Craig C. Crafton: Attorney, Cozen O’Conner, Dallas, TX Catherine Hough: Attorney, Ferguson Law Group, PC, Plano, TX Decker Sachse: Attorney, Sachse Law Group; Business Affairs, Kirtland Records, Dallas, TX

Stick around after the panel presentation for the 2nd Annual Music Mixer hosted by the Texas Board members of the Recording Academy (the Grammy folks).  Cash Bar.

Entertainment Law Update Podcast 2


by Tamera H. Bennett Had another great time co-hosting the Entertainment Law Update Podcast

with attorney Gordon Firemark.  You can hear, download and subscribe to the podcast here.

Topics (with lots of links) include:

  • Congratulations to Maren Christensen, Executive VP and General Counsel at Universal Studios,  who’s been named Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Entertainment Lawyer of the Year for 2009.
  • Supreme Court Nominee  Sotomayor’s background and 2nd Circuit ruling in favor of statutory damages as deterrent.
  • Backlog at the Copyright Office.
  • Does the Register of Copyrights hold office lawfully?  A pending Constitutional Appointments Clause challenge  questions the validity of CRB appointments, but what about the Register’s ministerial Acts?
  • Sports Leagues losing control of fantasy-sports leagues as Courts rule that the First Amendment trumps rights of publicity, and player statistics, etc., where there’s a public interest in the information.
  • Good discussion of “Access” element of copying analysis in ruling on Summary Judgment for Defendant in song plagiarism suit.
  • Warner Music issues DMCA Takedown on Organization that hosted Prof. Lessig talk
  • Woody Allen/American Apparel case settles
  • SAG settles Force Majeure claims
  • Tenenbaum’s fair use argument - Case is set for trial July 20.

Fearless Film Panel Music Handouts

by Tamera H. Bennett Planning on a great time today at the Music Panel in conjunction with the Fort Worth Fearless Film Festival.  I may add more links to the post after the presentation depending on any additional topics that are discussed.

Music Clearance:

  • This worksheet/form will help the film/tv producer work through how the song and sound recordings are going to be used in the production and the basic information that should be included in the license request.
  • Don't forget, if you use an existing recording you have to have permission from the owner of the sound recording.  Start with the CD in your hand and trace ownership from there.  You may also use a resource such as AllMusic, with the understanding that is not always correct.

Fair Use: Remember, Fair Use is a defense, not a right under the law.  This blog post regarding the use of "If I Wish Upon A Star" in the Family Guy tv show provides information on parody and Fair Use.

Public Domain: In the United States the copyright term is generally life of the author plus 70 years for works created, registered or published on or after January 1, 1978.   If the work was created and published or registered prior to January 1, 1978 and any necessary renewals were filed, the copyright term is for a total of 95 years from the year in which copyright was secured for the work.

The safest route is to make the assumption that no song you want to use is in the public domain, then work backwards with your dates.  Click this link for a flow chart for calculating if a work is in the public domain.

Likeness/Crowd Releases:

You might also be interested in an Overview of Copyright Law from Registration to Termination.

Is Shepard Fairey Transforming Copyrights?

by Tamera H. BennettPosted March 6, 2008

Appreciate the folks at the Ask Before You Act blog including me in their panel of experts.

My latest post at their blog attempts to answer the question "Is Shepard Fairey in the business of infringing copyrights or creating new transformative works?"

The post also includes 20 links to various legal and non-legal comments on this hot topic.

Happy Second Anniversary Blog


By Tamera H. BennettPosted December 8, 2008

I'm singing "Happy Annivesary baby, I've got you on my mind."

Hard to believe the first post on the blog went up two years ago. I started blogging really as an experiment to see if I could increase traffic to my website and bring in a few more clients. All that happened.

What I did not expect out of blogging was 1. how much fun I was going to have; 2. affirmation of how much I love to write; and 3. how many great lawyers and law students I can now call my colleagues and friends that I would have never met if I did not blog.

Cheers! have a cupcake today and celebrate Current Trends In Copyright, Trademark & Entertainment Law's second anniversary. Creative Commons Is Not A Copyright

by Tamera H. BennettDecember 3, 2008


President-elect Barack Obama's transition team has licensed the site under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, giving visitors more freedom to use content from the site. was previously copyrighted under an "All Rights Reserved" notice.

What gets me is how often folks misstate and interchange "creative commons" and copyright. The statement " was previously copyrighted under an "All Rights Reserved" notice" somehow makes it sound as if the very nature of the copyright in the content has changed. It has not.

The copyright protection afforded to the content at is the same today as it was last week. What has changed is the scope in which third parties can use the content on the website. The underlying "bundle of rights" that are vested in the copyright claimant pursuant to 17 U.S.C. Sec. 106 have not changed, but the copyright claimant has now offered third parties greater access to use the copyright protected works so long as appropriate attribution is provided.

Remember, Creative Commons Licenses do not give you copyright protection. The licenses available from Creative Commons are simply that ... licenses to help you define the rights and obligations by which other people can use your works.

Copyright protection arises at the moment of creation -- when you fix an original work in a tangible expression. Follow through with a copyright application to gain additional protections. You do not have to use a Creative Commons License to license your works to third parties. Creative Commons is simply one option available to you.

Image used courtesy of

Seton Hall Call For Journal Articles

by Tamera H. BennettApril 23, 2008

The folks over at Seton Hall Law Review requested I pass along the following information:

Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law Call for Submissions!

The Seton Hall School of Law Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law is seeking submissions for possible publication in future issues. If you are a law professor, other type of professor, practicing attorney, judicial clerk, law student, or graduate student who has written a substantive piece that pertains to sports or entertainment law, please consider submitting your work.

For more information or to submit a piece, please e-mail Tara Touloumis, Articles Editor, ttouloumis at Thank you!

Rock Star Attorneys at SXSW

By Tamera H. BennettMarch 12, 2008


If you can't be rock star, be a Rock Star Attorney. That's my motto. My plan, beginning Thursday, is to bring daily updates on hot legal and business topics addressed at the SXSW Music conference.

The Rock Star attorney shirt above is offered by the Entertainment & Sports Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. Send me an email if you are interested in purchasing.

"A" Is for Ask

by Tamera H. BennettMarch 10, 2008


I am starting a post on asking permission with the following statement: The IP ADR Blog has a great idea in which they are working through the alphabet for post topics. Do I need permission from them to use this same idea? I think not. Ideas may be protected by patent law and may also be protected under certain contract theories. Using the alphabet to organize a topic is not original to the blog in question; just read a children's book. So this idea is not protectable, but the expression may very well be protected. What if I copied the blog post written by someone else, would I need permission then?

I may not have asked permission for the A, B, C's, but I did ask permission to copy the blog post in its entirety below. Why? The blog post itself is protected by copyright. The post is in reference to "ways to avoid a claim of copyright infringement."

The Easiest Way to Get What You Want: Say Please Posted on February 28, 2008 by Victoria Pynchon

Recently I re-posted Five Ways to Minimize Risk of Copyright Liability from Citizen Media here.

Today, IP attorney extraordinaire Tamera Bennett (left) dropped by to remind us of our own ADR "core values," i.e., self-determination and respect for the rights of others.

Instead of simply approving Tamera's comment, I decided to bring it up here for everyone to see.

The easiest way to get along with our fellow artists?

Get a license!

If you have genuine affection for the work of another, drop them a line, pick up a phone, send a carrier pigeon.

"I really love your work."

Then ask for permission to use it.

Just do what your mother taught you. Ask nicely. Say please. Then thank the nice copyright owner for being so generous with his/her work. You'd be amazed at people's generosity, especially when you couple it with a (true) statement such as "I'm a young artist and don't have a lot of money but would really like to . . . . . "

If you can't say that, i.e., if you have the money to pay the license fee, for heaven's sake support your fellow artists.

Tamera's comment below. See her blog, Current Trends in Copyright, Trademark and Entertainment Law here.

I have several concerns with the listing of ways to avoid copyright infringement.

1. "Use only as much of the copyrighted work as is necessary to accomplish your purpose or convey your message" ---- Clients come to me and want to know how much of the song can I use or can I reprint a portion of this chapter of the book, or can I use this poster in something else. I advise the client to get a license. Fair Use is a defense which is very difficult to win. There is no cut-and-dry rule that you can use three bars from the song before liability attaches.

2. Add something new or beneficial (don't just copy it -- improve it!) --- This trips folks up all the time. Adding something new does not protect you from copyright infringement. You need a license to create a derivative work. Adding something new to someone else's copyright is a violation of the copyright owner's exclusive right to allow for the creation of derivative works.

Remember, if you did not create it, you probably need a license to use it.

Music Publishing Catalog Administration

January 24, 2008by Tamera H. Bennett

I would like to take a few blog entries over the next week to highlight how we work with clients to protect and leverage their intellectual property.

On the entertainment side of our practice, our primary focus is administration of music publishing and master recording catalogs. Because of my extensive background in music publishing and specifically in working with the 1909 Copyright Act, we focus this practice on “estate” catalogs.

Typically we work with the surviving heir or heirs to a music publishing catalog or master catalog. Depending on the need of the client, we may be the point person for any and all licensing issues as well as investigating possible unlicensed uses, ie, infringements. For songs written before January 1, 1978 we also work closely with the client to terminate grants made under the 1909 copyright act and reclaim works for the heirs. We may also work with the client to investigate other revenue sources for the songs/masters in the catalog through song placement.

I have a real passion for educating folks on how the music publishing business works and how to protect their creative endeavors. I lecture on the topic of music publishing frequently. Please feel free to contact me if you feel your group might benefit from a Music Publishing 101 lecture or an advanced music publishing presentation.

My article, “2003 = The New Millennium for Copyright” on the topic of termination of transfers under the 1909 and 1976 Copyright Acts has been published in four resources: the materials for the 2003 and 2004 Legal & Business Aspects of the Film & Music Industries CLE; teaching materials for the UCLA Music Business course; and the September 2003 California Copyright Conference Newsletter. In October 2006 I was honored to make a joint presentation with attorneys Kenneth W. Pajak and Katherine A. Kinser on “The Intersection of Estate Issues and Copyright Law: A Long and Winding Road.”

Remember, every hit record starts with a great song!