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Remarks from EASL Chair Judith B. Prowda

My first few months as Chair have been exciting and eventful as we move forward with new initiatives and build on past achievements. In July, I formed an In-House Counsel Committee and appointed Kimberly Ayers Shariff, Esq. as Chair. Kim is the Deputy General Counsel of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The mission of this Committee is to create a forum where members can share information and best practices, as well as address the unique opportunities, challenges and substantive issues that face attorneys practicing in-house in the entertainment, arts and sports law fields. One of the Committee’s specific goals is to form an “open source” information bank where in-house attorneys can seek (as well as contribute) advice and substantive guidance akin to the attorney-to-attorney exchange of information that occurs in a law firm environment but less frequently in-house. To facilitate these goals, Kim is already planning programs of great interest to in-house and outside counsel in the entertainment, arts and sports law fields, in both the for-profit and not-for-profit arenas.

As ever, our committee programs and pro bono activities filled the Winter, Spring and Summer calendars.

In March we co-sponsored the annual Sports Law Forum with Fordham Law School, as we have been doing since 2005. This year, the day-long program featured keynote speaker John P. McEnroe, Sr., Esq., and high level panels addressing some of the most cutting edge legal topics affecting sports, such as licensing, the legality and impact of age restrictions, and salary arbitration. EASL Sports Law Committee Co-Chair Anthony Dreyer and the student organizers at Fordham, especially Cassie Mullman, Managing Editor of the Sports Law Forum, deserve high praise. Also in March, the Fine Arts Committee which I chair, held a very informative program on Holocaust looted art and recovery, focusing on Bakalar v. Vavra, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66689 (S.D.N.Y. 2008), the first Holocaust-era art recovery trial in the U.S. In that case, the District Court found that passing the artwork in question through Switzerland gave it clean title. Our guest speaker Raymond Dowd, Esq., partner at Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller, who recently argued the case before the Second Circuit on behalf of the Defendants-Appellants, presented the legal and evidentiary obstacles to litigating Holocaust-era expropriation and provided legal practitioners with basic tools to assemble evidence and prove Nazi property looting. This sold-out program was held at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, where I am a senior faculty member, and was followed by an elegant reception.

Our biennial Popcorn & Ethics Program with Mark Solomon in April proved to be a resounding success, focusing on the recently adopted “New York Rules of Professional Conduct” (effective April 1, 2009). The audience participated in a lively discussion on ethical dilemmas cleverly illustrated in film clips, and enjoyed popcorn at intermission. Many thanks to Program Co-Chair Tracey Greco and everyone who worked on this excellent program worth 4 CLE credits in Ethics. Whether or not you attended this program, I urge you to read Monica Pa’s excellent blog summarizing key points covered, located on the EASL Blog at http://nysbar.com/blogs/EASL/.We also co-sponsored the program CopyRight and Risk in Film Practice with the Young Professionals Division of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A. in April. This free program was a bonus to our members and wonderful opportunity to network and hear from some experts in the film industry. Thanks to the generous support of the Cardozo Intellectual Property Society, our members enjoyed an open bar and snacks as well.

If you had any gnawing questions about the intricacies of copyright term issues around the world, you were fortunate to have attended the comprehensive program in April organized by Jay Kogan and Neil Rosini, Co-Chairs of the Copyright & Trademark Committee. Dennis Angel, noted authority on United States and foreign copyright law, gave a thorough overview of this complex subject. The Committees on Motion Pictures (Stephen Rodner and Mary Ann Zimmer) and Television & Radio (Pamela Jones and Barry Skidelsky) co-sponsored two back-to-back programs this spring. An enormously successful luncheon 2 CLE credit program featuring Stan Soocher, Editor-in-chief, Entertainment Law & Finance was held at Pryor Cashman on May 26th. On June 16th, these Committees co-sponsored another program, this time with the Copyright & Literary Property Committee of The City Bar, regarding the use of music in digital media, with speakers David Oxenford and Robert Driscoll of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. T) The City Bar hosted this long-awaited event, which had been postponed last February due to the blizzard.

Pro bono continues to be one of the highest priorities of the NYSBA and EASL and our Pro Bono Committee is working hard under the guidance of its Steering Committee (comprised of Elissa Hecker, Pippa Loengard, Carol Steinberg, Monica Pa and Kathy Kim) in its Spring programs. Over the course of the Spring, the Pro Bono Committee and the Brooklyn Arts Council co-sponsored a pro bono lecture on copyright and trademark basics for artists and art organizations, at the DeKalb branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, held a Pro Bono Clinic for the Dramatists Guild (co-sponsored by the IP Section and hosted by the Intellectual Property Society at New York Law School), and offered a highly successful non-CLE program focusing on setting up and running an art business, which was held at the School of Visual Arts. More information about these and future EASL Pro Bono Committee programs and Clinics can be found in the Pro Bono Update. Please mark your calendar for future events!

Our summer season has also offered a wide range of programs. In July, EASL’s Music and Recording Industry Committee co-sponsored the New Music Seminar (NMS), held on three days in New York City. The program included several invitation-only summits which provided a high-level forum for dialogue about the challenges the music industry is facing. In one summit, panelists (Tom Silverman, Adam Ritholz, Jim Cooperman and venture capitalist David Pakman) discussed key developing legal and deal-making issues, such as emerging structures of recorded music agreements and emerging economic models. Please see the “New Music Seminar Report” by EASL’s blogger extraordinaire, Monica Pa, for a terrific overview of the event. Kudos to Alan Barson and Christine Pepe, Co-Chairs of the Committee on Music and the Recording Industry, for developing this exciting co-sponsorship opportunity. Look for the Committee’s expanded involvement with NMS in 2011!

On August 6th, the In-House Counsel Committee and Lawyers in Transition Committee held a breakfast panel on the transition to in-house careers. In-house jobs are in high demand and, among other topics, this panel discussed how to get an in-house position, how to best prepare, and what you can expect as in-house counsel. The program was led by In House Counsel Chair Kim Shariff and EASL Lawyers in Transition Co-Chair, Saryn Leibowitz. Panelists included Tracey Knuckles, General Counsel, New York City, Department of Cultural Affairs and Meg Louis, Director of Legal Affairs/Senior Counsel for NYC Media. This program was held at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein and Selz, PC.

Looking forward to the fall, the Pro Bono Committee and Fine Arts Committee are co-sponsoring a joint program with Cardozo’s Intellectual Property Program and Cardozo’s Art Law Society, on legal issues in producing and presenting public art. Our speakers will be Katie Hollander, Deputy Director of Creative Time and Judi Church, Counsel to Creative Time. This non-CLE program and reception will be held at Cardozo on September 15th from 6-8 p.m.

This year, EASL’s ADR Committee, co-chaired by Judith Bresler and myself, is co-sponsoring a full day CLE program with the NYSBA Dispute Resolution Section. The program, which will be held on October 12th at Fordham Law School, will offer six CLE credits, including one Ethics credit. The morning session will be devoted to mediation on an art-related topic, and will feature highly trained mediators in an interactive role play with members of the audience rotating in as the disputing parties. An experienced mediator will serve as a commentator and stop the action in a “freeze frame” fashion at teachable moments throughout the mediation and invite discussion. After lunch, an entertainment law-related program on arbitration will be conducted in a similar teaching format. We hope that this highly interactive, largely unscripted program will provide excellent training for all levels of ADR practitioners.

Our Fall Meeting will be held on October 22nd, our fourth year in conjunction with the CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival. There will be panels on ethics, right of publicity, copyright termination rights, mobile apps and gaming, international issues in digital licensing overseas and distribution, and agreements with minors. Breakout panels will include the latest developments in mobile tv issues and film deals. Hope to see you there!

As most of you know, it is a priority of mine as Chair to vitalize EASL throughout the State and have appointed a District Representative in each of the 13 Judicial Districts in New York State. To accomplish my goal, I share the good news that I have appointed two District Representative Leaders – Leslie Greenbaum for Upstate and David Faux for Downstate – to serve as points of contact for District Representatives if they have any questions on how to go about organizing a program in their District. Both Les and David have done extraordinary work in creating programs and making connections in their Districts. I would like all District Representatives to be involved in this manner, and I am delighted that Les and David have agreed to help in this effort. Les will be the point of contact for the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Districts. David will be the point of contact for the 1st, 2nd, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th Districts.

Another wonderful piece of news is that I have appointed Kathy Kim to serve as Co-Chair of the Young Entertainment Lawyers Committee with Stephanie Khalifa. Kathy will also continue as Co-Chair of the Pro Bono Committee. In addition, EASL welcomes two liaisons from the Young Lawyers Section – Jason Aylesworth and Ezgi Kaya. I hope that our Sections will plan interesting and valuable programs for our Members.

Hope you had a wonderful summer!

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