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Remarks from Judith Prowda, EASL Section Chair

Remarks from the Chair

I am honored and privileged to serve as the new EASL Chair for the next two years.

For the benefit of those who do not know me, I divide my professional life among academic, law practice and ADR services. I am Senior Lecturer in Art Law and Ethics & Policy in the Art Profession at Sotheby’s Institute of Art Masters of Art Business Program in New York. In my law practice, I concentrate in intellectual property, art and entertainment law, and represent artists, galleries and other arts organizations (not-for-profit and private), as well as authors and other creative individuals in publishing, as well as business entities in commercial transactions. In the past several years, I have also developed an ADR practice, and serve as mediator for the New York State Commercial Division and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, and as arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.

I have very big shoes to fill, following our Immediate Past Chair Kenneth Swezey, who solidified our Section in the midst of challenging economic times.

During Ken's tenure as Chair he managed to bring the Section's budget out of the red and well into the black. He encouraged a redoubling of pro bono efforts within the New York City arts community. During his term, our Section launched the Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Blog, which has become an important outlet for members of our practice area to share important legal developments from all corners of the entertainment business. Additionally, Section membership has increased, we have fostered ongoing relationships with important industry players, and we have sponsored, organized and presented many enormously popular CLE programs, including the Annual Entertainment Business Law Seminar in conjunction with CMJ.

Our Annual Meeting, held at the Hilton and co-chaired by our innovative and tireless Program Co-Chairs Tracey P. Greco-Meyer of dELIA*s, Inc. and Rebecca A. Frank of Patina Restaurant Group, was a resounding success, with two outstanding and timely panels. The first panel, titled “From Conception to the Public Domain or Perhaps to Infinity and Beyond: The Life Cycle of Fictional Characters,” was moderated by Jay Kogan, Vice President Business & Legal Affairs and Deputy General Counsel of DC Comics (and Co-Chair of EASL’s Copyright & Trademark Committee), and featured Neil J. Rosini, partner at Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo PC and Co-Chair of EASL’s Copyright & Trademark Committee; Edward H. Rosenthal, partner at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC; Joseph Salvo, Senior Vice President and Global General Counsel of Hit Entertainment; and Eric S. Brown, partner at Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo PC. The panelists engaged in a spirited discussion about character rights, how to license and expand a character’s image, and what happens when the character’s owner’s rights expire.

Our second panel, “Players Off the Field … How Do You Protect Your Client When Negotiating an Athlete-Driven Merchandising, Endorsement, or New/Traditional Media Deal?”, featured leading sports marketing and legal experts. Michael Bracken of Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard LLC did a fantastic job moderating a talented panel, including Terry Prince, Director, Legal and Business Affairs, Creative Artist Agency Sports; Ethan Orlinsky, General Counsel, Major League Baseball; Stephanie Vardavas, Assistant General Counsel, Nike; and Peter Welch, Vice-President and Counsel, Take-Two Interactive Software.

In addition to Ken’s hard act to follow, I am also the third woman Chair of EASL, and have two pairs of very high heels to follow.

Our first woman Chair, Judith Bresler (2000-2002), my mentor and dear friend, is truly a leader and role model of excellence and accomplishment in the legal profession. Together Judith Bresler and I co-founded and co-chair the EASL Committee on ADR. Judith also initiated the BMI/Phil Cowan Memorial Scholarship for law students. She never ceases to amaze all of us with her capacity for fresh ideas.

Elissa Hecker, our second woman Chair (2004-06), was the recipient of the Young Lawyers Award in 2005, has been our Journal Editor for 10 years, started our widely read blog last year, and edited two EASL-related legal handbooks published by the Bar Association. Elissa also co-founded and is a member of the Pro Bono Steering Committee and has generated superb programs for EASL lawyers to donate legal services.

I look forward to working with a wonderful group of officers: Vice Chair Rosemarie Tully (and I point out that this is the first time EASL has had both a woman Chair and Vice-Chair), Treasurer Diane Krautz, Secretary Monica Pa; and Assistant Secretary Jason Baruch. I will continue to serve as a Delegate to the House of Delegates, along with Bennett Liebman and with David Faux as Alternate.

My first order of business as Chair-nominee was to nominate a District Representative for each of the 13 Judicial Districts in New York State – for the first time in EASL history! We will now hear voices from all around the State. This list of District Representatives (approved at the Annual Meeting) is as follows:

First Alan J. Hartnick
Second Innes Smolansky
Third Bennett Liebman
Fourth Edward Flink
Fifth Jaime Mavie Previte
Sixth Mark Dodds
Seventh Mark A. Costello
Eighth Leslie Mark Greenbaum
Ninth Alan D. Barson
Tenth Rosemarie Tully
Eleventh David Faux
Twelfth Lauren Fae Silver
Thirteenth Daniel C. Marotta

One of my goals is to focus on current legislation with a committed group of people (similar to our dynamic Pro Bono Steering Committee) and to make recommendations when appropriate. I would like the District Representatives to be involved in this effort. I have appointed Bennett Leibman to serve as Co-Chair with Steven Richman.

I am excited to announce that I have already formed four new Committees within EASL. First, I would like to recognize the outstanding work done by Judith Bresler (as mentioned above) and Gary Roth, who co-founded and co-chair the Phil Cowan Memorial/BMI Scholarship. Since its founding in 2005, the Scholarship has been awarded to student winners of a writing competition. By giving this Scholarship initiative the status of a Committee, we will strengthen our ties with law schools throughout the State and country and continue to find a talented pool of law students to participate in the competition.

In addition, mindful of the difficult job market affecting many of our members, I have formed a new and dynamic EASL Lawyers in Transition Committee and appointed as Co-Chairs Saryn Leibowitz and Leila A. Amineddoleh. As part of its mission, the EASL Lawyers in Transition Committee will hold programs (possible topics will include job search strategies, re-entering the job market, networking, mentoring) and create a job bank to connect job seekers and employers. As part of the mentoring program, the Committee will initiate a "lifeline" system, where a new attorney is matched with a more experienced attorney in order to learn the basics of practice that are not taught in law school. The EASL Lawyers in Transition Committee will also organize a series of informal breakfast panels/lectures, inviting attorneys from different areas of the entertainment, art and sports areas of practice to discuss their experience with our members. Possible topics include "Basics of the USPTO and Trademark Prosecution," "Trademark Docketing Systems," "Filing with the U.S. Copyright Office," and "Beginning an Action -- How to File a Complaint in County, State, and Federal Court."

The third new committee is the Digital Media Committee, co-chaired by Vejay Lalla and Andrew Seiden. The scope of this Committee will include all out-of-home media (i.e., non-traditional advertising venues apart from television, radio and theatrical motion picture).

The fourth new committee is the Ethics Committee, chaired by Pery D. Krinsky, who concentrates his practice on attorney ethics and criminal law. As part of its mission, the EASL Ethics Committee will address ethics issues encountered by attorneys in their day-to-day practice in the diverse fields of entertainment, art and sports law. Indeed, as the legal profession enters a new and more “global” decade, lawyers are facing challenging questions concerning when, where and how the “practice” and the “business” of law are interconnected. Many of these novel questions – having local, national and international dimensions – will need to be considered, some for the first time, in the context of the much anticipated, newly adopted “New York Rules of Professional Conduct” (effective April 1, 2009). In order to further examine some of these “high-impact” ethics issues, the EASL Ethics Committee will organize a series of informal discussions and formal (and always sought after) Continuing Legal Education ethics programs, inviting experts in the fields of entertainment, art, sports, criminal and ethics law to discuss multi-faceted ethics questions such as trans-jurisdictional lawyering, the unauthorized practice of law and multi-disciplinary practices.

I have also appointed Cameron Myler and Ken Swezey as new Co-Chairs of the Committee on Literary Works, and Edward Rosenthal and Barry Werbin to Co-Chair the Committee on Publicity, Privacy & Media.

One of the many strengths of EASL is our wide range of wonderful Committee programs, both CLE and non-CLE, which are usually held in NYC. I hope to make many of those programs available to members who are unable to attend through the creation of DVDs and webcasting. On March 24, 2010, I inaugurated this initiative by having a videographer tape the Committee on Fine Arts program entitled “Egon Schiele's Dead City: Current Issues In Nazi Art Looting and Recovery.” The program featured guest speaker Raymond Dowd, Esq. of Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller LLP.

Three years ago, the NYSBA President challenged each Section to grow by 10 percent by December 31, 2010. In 2008 EASL had 1,592 members. On February 2, 2010 our membership was at 1,689. Doing the math, we need only 58 new members to meet the three year, 10 percent challenge of 1,748 and I believe we can do that and more. I am hoping that we will top 2,000 members by the end of my term as Chair.

I look forward to serving as Chair of EASL, along with the other EASL Officers, members of the Executive Committee, and colleagues in Albany – Doug Guevara, Pam McDevitt, Carolyn Clayton, Lori Nicholl, Barbara Beauchamp – and everyone else.

I would like to hear from EASL members throughout the State and to invigorate the Section by extending its reaches to every corner of the State and beyond, and to work hard to serve not only EASL members, but the New York bar and the public.

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