ILNews

IP meets pop culture

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Indiana Lawyer Focus


A class of 10 students at Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington has been getting hands-on experience helping an intellectual property lawyer who works with musicians, actors, and other entertainers on contract and intellectual property issues.

"Intellectual Property Practicum: Legal Aspects of the Music Industry," is a capstone course for students with an interest in practicing intellectual property and entertainment law.

"There's an underpinning of intellectual property law in most everything in this class, and it's tied to popular culture, it's tied to music," said Indianapolis attorney Robert Meitus, who teaches the course.

"The students listen to music and watch TV and read books," he said. "So when they listen to the songs we're working on, or see a TV show a client is on, it's quite remarkable to have those opportunities to bring the law to life. A contract dealing with an actress on a primetime TV show is a much more effective teaching tool than a casebook might be about a principle out of a 19th century case."

The course started as an idea from an Internet law course Meitus taught in 2002, prior to teaching the practicum, during which students worked with him on a domain-name dispute involving pool champion Jeanette Lee, also known as "The Black Widow."

In that case, Lee, a resident of Indianapolis, asked for help with the issue and he suggested he could take her case pro bono if she would let him have students help; she agreed.

After Lee's registration of jeanettelee. com lapsed, someone in Armenia registered the site, according to a decision posted on the National Arbitration Forum's Web site, www.adrforum.com.

The entity that owned jeanettelee.com was using the site not to promote her, but to sell goods and services that were not relevant to Lee.

Ultimately, the students and Meitus helped Lee win the arbitration because she met the criteria of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' policy regarding domain-name disputes.

"The students really reacted to working on a live legal dispute, a matter that was real as opposed to in a book," he said. "We go back and use that decision in work that we do in cases that are similar to that one."

Domain-name disputes and other types of cases the students work on have come through his firm, Meitus Gelbert & Rose, and through the Creative Arts Legal League, a low or nofee referral service for artists and musicians who need legal help.

Working with a number of musicians and entertainers also lets him choose and assign many smaller assignments. That way, students get the experience and will likely see some kind of result while they are still in the class and not months or years later, he said.

"Our practice allows the students to work on a variety of high-profile cases," he said. "If they're not actually doing the work, we have some where they're shadowing attorneys as clerks would."

In those cases, the reason is generally because the firm isn't representing the client pro bono, but the client must still give permission for students to shadow.

"Most lawyers have to deal with contracts ... but the students have never looked at a real legal contract so much as studied the concepts of contract law," he said. "Just looking at even boilerplate clauses and talking about why certain jurisdiction or venue clauses are important, warranties of representations and how they work, tends to be well received by the students."

While Meitus said most of what the students work on is confidential, he could say the students have been working on a contract for a music producer who is "a very real, well-known artist ... on a major label." Another client is "an actress on a major network television show. There was a contract with a management company that fell apart."

Students are also researching a copyright infringement case involving a song.

"Our client is the potential plaintiff alleging the infringement," he said. "The students get to listen to the music and decide whether it's substantially similar under the law. They get to think strategically about how to solve that, whether to file suit, and of course you'd try to negotiate a settlement beforehand if possible."

"This class presents unique challenges that other classes don't," Josh Radicke, a 2L in the class, said via e-mail. "While we do have a less strict format, we also have more responsibility. If you fail to prepare for a normal class or forget an assignment, you're going to be embarrassed or you're going to hurt your grade. In this class, if you fail to do something that you're supposed to, you're going to hurt not only yourself and possibly your grade, but you're going to fail your client and your fellow students who are working with you on a project."

Meitus added that confidentiality is first and foremost with the students.

"I tell my students if they ever want to talk about the cases, they need to have a reunion or call me," he said.

"I'm sure you can imagine the 'juicy' information that passes through an entertainment lawyer's office; a lot of it sounds like something from TMZ," Radicke said.

"There's a strong impulse to want to share information with friends and family about the goings on of famous clients, but confidentiality is ... perhaps the most important part of practicing law. A normal class can't prepare you in the same way this one does to be a mature professional who carefully keeps confidentiality and abides by our standards and ethical code," he added.

As tough as confidentiality might be, Meitus said some former students have used the class to get careers in entertainment law, including former students who've landed at Paramount Pictures and Sony/BMG.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Are you financially squeezed? Do you seek funds to pay off credits and debts Do you seek finance to set up your own business? Are you in need of private or business loans for various purposes? Do you seek loans to carry out large projects Do you seek funding for various other processes? If you have any of the above problems, we can be of assistance to you but I want you to understand that we give out our loans at an interest rate of 3% . Interested Persons should contact me with this below details . LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name: Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd): Loan Amount Needed: Duration: Occupation: Phone: Country: My contact email :jasonwillfinanceloanss@hotmail.com Note:that all mail must be sent to: jasonwillfinanceloanss@hotmail.com Thanks and God Bless . Jason Will

  2. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

  3. What a fine example of the best of the Hoosier tradition! How sad that the AP has to include partisan snark in the obit for this great American patriot and adventurer.

  4. Why are all these lawyers yakking to the media about pending matters? Trial by media? What the devil happened to not making extrajudicial statements? The system is falling apart.

  5. It is a sad story indeed as this couple has been only in survival mode, NOT found guilty with Ponzi, shaken down for 5 years and pursued by prosecution that has been ignited by a civil suit with very deep pockets wrenched in their bitterness...It has been said that many of us are breaking an average of 300 federal laws a day without even knowing it. Structuring laws, & civilForfeiture laws are among the scariest that need to be restructured or repealed . These laws were initially created for drug Lords and laundering money and now reach over that line. Here you have a couple that took out their own money, not drug money, not laundering. Yes...Many upset that they lost money...but how much did they make before it all fell apart? No one ask that question? A civil suit against Williams was awarded because he has no more money to fight...they pushed for a break in order...they took all his belongings...even underwear, shoes and clothes? who does that? What allows that? Maybe if you had the picture of him purchasing a jacket at the Goodwill just to go to court the next day...his enemy may be satisfied? But not likely...bitterness is a master. For happy ending lovers, you will be happy to know they have a faith that has changed their world and a solid love that many of us can only dream about. They will spend their time in federal jail for taking their money from their account, but at the end of the day they have loyal friends, a true love and a hope of a new life in time...and none of that can be bought or taken That is the real story.

ADVERTISEMENT