Intellectual Property Art, Entertainment & Sports Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning

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What do Prince, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston Have in Common?

Michael Jackson, Prince and Whitney Houston each revolutionized the music industry and impacted popular music for decades. We all appreciate how Michael Jackson moonwalked across the stage, Prince made it (purple) rain and...more

The Death of Prince Rogers Nelson – An Estate Tax Controversy Likely To Follow

Many of our readers have asked me about the likely controversy that will ensue following the death of Prince. In fact, two readers feel, since I have been reporting about some of the controversy surrounding the Estate of...more

The Battle Between the Estate of Michael Jackson and the IRS Continues

In March 2014, I reported on the all-out battle that was ensuing in the U.S. Tax Court between the IRS and the Estate of Michael Jackson over the value of the late pop singer’s estate. It began in 2013, when the estate...more

Till Death Do Us Part? How to Deal With Celebrity Publicity Rights When That Celebrity Passes

The tragic death of renowned recording artist Prince left many reminiscing about his meticulously crafted public image. In life, the law allowed Prince to control the commercial exploitations of his image.  At death, however,...more

Brumley v. Albert E. Brumley & Sons Inc. - USCA, Sixth Circuit, May 16, 2016

Sixth Circuit concludes that author’s 1975 assignment of gospel song “I’ll Fly Away” was subject to 2008 termination notice, notwithstanding subsequent 1979 assignment of rights by late composer’s wife....more

PRINCE Act Shelved by Minnesota Legislator

Last week we reported on the right of publicity bill being considered by the Minnesota legislature in light of the passing of musical icon, Prince. As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune on May 18, 2016, State...more

Sign O’ the Times: the Right of Publicity Comes to Minnesota

The ability to control the use of one’s name, likeness, voice, and other personal attributes is known as the right of publicity. Unlike trademarks, patents, and copyrights, which are types of intellectual property governed...more

Forget That Prince Had No Will, What About the Estate Tax Problems?

There has been a fair amount of buzz in the days after Prince’s death about his estate plan, whether he has a Will, whether he did or did not do any planning. Time will see this out. Prince’s heirs at law appear at this time...more

Living Like a Prince, but not Dying Like One

The media seems to be concerned with two primary subjects lately, and both topics continue to trounce each other in turn on social networks for attention: 1. The presidential elections 2. The death of Prince,...more

Happy Birthday To You: Blow the Candles Out

On two previous occasions, I wrote about the court battle and decision regarding the copyright status of the lyrics to the song, Happy Birthday to You. As noted in my September 2015 post, the U.S. District Court in California...more

The Halloween Edition: Frights of Publicity and Celebrity Ghosts

It is an undisputed fact that the 90’s were the best. The deadcade gave us some of the best television (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), movies (Clueless), fashion (flannel), and music (Backstreet Boys). Everything created since...more

Intellectual Property: Happy Birthday to You (10/15)

If you have ever been to a Chili’s restaurant, odds are you have heard this birthday jingle. Perhaps you have also heard different birthday greetings at other chain restaurants. More likely than not, you have not heard any...more

Ray Charles Foundation v. Robinson - USCA, Ninth Circuit, July 31, 2015

Ninth Circuit reverses lower court’s dismissal for lack of standing of action brought by Ray Charles Foundation, finding that Foundation, sole beneficiary of music legend’s estate, had standing to challenge validity of...more

Copyright Co-Owner’s Ability to Grant an Exclusive Right to a Third Party - Corbello v. DeVito

Revisiting the issue of a copyright co-owner’s right to grant an exclusive right to a third party, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit clarified its prior ruling in Sybersound v. UAV, and explained that a...more

The Artist’s Legacy – Business and Legal Planning Issues

Sheppard Mullin attorneys Christine Steiner and Lauren Liebes recently joined Weston Naef, Getty Photography Curator Emeritus, and ASA appraiser Jennifer Stoots for “What Will Become of Your Legacy”, a panel discussion at Los...more

Warner Bros.’ Super Victory: U.S. Supreme Court Effectively Ends Lengthy Superman Copyright Dispute

Warner Bros. and its DC Comics subsidiary can now breathe a bit easier, as the U.S. Supreme Court has recently declined to intervene in the ongoing dispute over the ownership rights to Superman. And so ends (at least for...more

Superman Dodges a Bullet: Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Heirs’ Bid to Reclaim Character Copyright

Close on the heels of the settlement between Marvel Comics and Jack Kirby’s heirs, which ended their dispute over copyright in a number of iconic comic book characters, the heirs to one of Superman’s co-creators, artist...more

Privacy or Property? Arizona Court Adopts Post-Mortem Right of Publicity In Intra-Family Online Dispute

The right of publicity, i.e., the right not to have others appropriate your name or image for commercial purposes, is an odd duck. It was described by Professor Prosser in 1960, and later in the Restatement of Torts, as of...more

The Bill Graham Show Goes On … and On - Graham-Sult v. Clainos

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that the federal district court erred in dismissing claims for copyright infringement, conversion and declaratory relief brought by the sons of the late concert...more

IP/Entertainment Law Weekly Case Update for Motion Picture Studios and Television Networks -- January 30, 2014

Smith v. Sunshine Sound Enterprises, Inc., USCA, 11th Circuit, January 22, 2014 - Eleventh Circuit reverses dismissal of estate’s claims for copyright infringement, holding that songwriter who assigned his legal rights...more

“Why Don’t you Marry the Girl?”: How the 1909 Copyright Act Helped Bring Down DOMA

When Tin Pan Alley composer B.G. “Buddy” DeSylva co-composed such 1920’s hits as California Here I Come, Sonny Boy and If You Knew Susie (and lesser-known works such as Why Don’t You Marry the Girl?) he may have understood...more

The Art Of Taxes: Major Changes To The Federal Transfer Tax System

Ars longs, vita brevis. Art is immortal, artists are mortal. Taxes impinge on every part of the art world and are a concern for both artists and collectors. Planning for and administering estates of artists and owners of art...more

Protecting An Artist's Legacy Through Estate Planing, Probate and Post-Death Administratin Part 2

Part 2 of 2: In the US alone, thousands of copyright creators and/or copyright owners die each year. How many of these folks create a comprehensive estate plan, or even a basic will or simple trust? The goal of estate...more

Protecting An Artist's Legacy Through Estate Planing, Probate and Post-Death Administratin Part 1

Part 1 of 2: In the US alone, thousands of copyright creators and/or copyright owners die each year. How many of these folks create a comprehensive estate plan, or even a basic will or simple trust? The goal of estate...more

Last Will of Michael Joseph Jackson

Last Will of Michael Joseph Jackson

The Last Will of Michael Joseph Jackson dated July 7, 2002....more

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