Music

Everyone loves doing the Harlem Shake, the latest dance craze to take YouTube by storm. Your friends have done it, law students have done it, and even Justin Timberlake has done it on Saturday Night Live. It’s a cultural phenomenon, and everyone wants to get involved, but eventually, the fun has got to stop — and as is usually the case with these viral videos, that stopping point comes quicker than a former Biglaw partner having a mid-life crisis.

This time, the fun is stopping because the ultimate party-killers are now on the scene to assess the damage. That’s right: lawyers are poking their noses into the Harlem Shake because of — you guessed it — copyright violations.

Let’s talk about the underlying legal claims before you feel the need to put on a Halloween costume in March and violently flail around to a 30-second music clip on film….

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Ed. note: This post appears courtesy of our friends at Techdirt. We’ll be sharing law-related posts from Techdirt from time to time in these pages.

Last week, we wrote about some of the copyright issues around the whole “Harlem Shake” meme (and, yes, we know it’s not the “real” Harlem Shake, so don’t even bother commenting about that). However, a few days ago, I was talking to an old friend who also happens to be an IP lawyer, and he pointed out one of the nuttier things about our copyright system. Yes, he said, Baauer is making tons of money by monetizing all of those Harlem Shake videos with ads. But Baauer actually had almost nothing to do with the popularity of the song or the meme itself. This isn’t a Psy situation, where his video/dance created the meme. Instead, as we discussed, there was this video, which led to this video, and then this video and then this video… and then tens of thousands of copycats bloomed.

Yes, they all use 30 seconds from Baauer’s song (which itself included many samples from others, some of which do not appear to be licensed, based on Baauer’s own statements), but the popularity was because of the original video by “Filthy Frank,” and then TheSunnyCoastSkate (TSCS) building on that to create the basic framework, quickly followed by PHLOn NAN and the folks at Maker Studios. In many ways, this reminds me of Derek Sivers’ popular discussion of the importance of the “First Follower.”

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Yesterday, we brought you the story of Garrett Waltzer. The former Skadden partner sent around a thrilling departure memo explaining to his colleagues that he was leaving the firm to help the music career of his wife, R&B artist and near-reality show star TaQuita Thorns. If you missed yesterday’s story, I’ll wait here while you catch up.

Yeah, that happened.

So when I say former Skadden partner, boy do I mean “former.” Skadden has already removed his bio from their website. That firm doesn’t play.

But Waltzer is still talking. After yesterday’s story, he opened up a little bit about his personal life to Vivia Chen of The Careerist.

Oh, and I did I mention we’ve got a clip of TaQuita Thorns on her reality show?

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Ed. note: The following piece was authored by The Legal Tease, of Sweet Hot Justice fame. Check out her other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.

Has your soul winced at all today? The kind of wince that feels like your junk has retreated deep into your abdomen in a way that makes you mostly nauseous… but also a little excited? No? Well, YOU’RE WELCOME, because here’s your chance. Actually, though, don’t thank me — thank a partner at one of Biglaw’s biggest and baddest firms, whose departure memo will leave track marks in your brain for at least the next three days.

Our partner, Garrett Waltzer, started off with the usual sentiments: After 24 years practicing at Skadden, in both Los Angeles and Palo Alto, he’s grateful for the professional opportunities, the terrific mentoring, the millions of dollars friendships he’s made, yada yada yada. Then he starts to tease us:

I have decided to start a new phase of my life. I do not plan to practice law.

Hm. OK. Well, Waltzer, what do you plan to do then? The answers await you after the jump, in what will likely heretofore be known as Chapter 1 of the Mid-Life Crisis Manual handed out to all new associates at Skadden and beyond….

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Like many of today’s celebrities, Britney Spears has had her fair share of legal troubles — except hers are a little crazier than your average Lohan-esque criminal case. From child custody hearings to conservatorships, our favorite pop tart has seen it all. Given that she’s been in and out of court so many times, you knew that she’d eventually become romantically entangled with a lawyer.

As luck would have it, Brit-Brit was caught by the paparazzi last week while out on a romantic Valentine’s Day date with a mysterious suitor. This time, as opposed to being a back-up dancer or an agent, Ms. Spears’s new love interest is reportedly (gasp!) an average joe, who just so happens to work for a law firm.

So what does he do? Well, that’s actually up for debate….

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‘Read me some Camus to cheer me up.’ — Hayley Franklin, 3, after hearing new birthday song.

Ever notice that movies and TV shows go out of their way never to sing “Happy Birthday To You” on-screen? Well that’s because Time Warner owns the copyright and rides that cash cow to the tune (hah!) of $2 million every year. Every unauthorized rendition of the song is technically worth $700 in royalties payable to Time Warner.

Time Warner’s zealous enforcement has even raised concerns that YouTube may have to take down videos of kiddie parties singing the song.

How can we break Time Warner’s stranglehold over our annual celebration of our own impending mortality? A New Jersey radio station (WFMU) decided to write a new song to replace “Happy Birthday To You” and brought in Harvard professor Larry Lessig to judge the competition.

A video of the new song that you’ll come to love appears after the jump. And by love I mean, “listen to, laugh, and hope to purge from your memory”….

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To clarify, this picture is an album, not a handjob joke.

Yesterday, musician Chubby Checker, née Ernest Evans (the man loves his alliteration), filed a $500 million lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard and Palm over a Palm Pilot app that was downloaded a mere 84 times.

Why?

Because the Palm Pilot app store apparently sported an application known as the “Chubby Checker” that allowed inquiring minds the ability to figure out penis sizes based on shoe size.

This case shocked me: did you know Palm still had assets?

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When videos go viral online, sometimes law students decide to let their freak flags fly and have some fun on film. Such is the case with the recent Harlem Shake phenomenon. If you’ve ever seen our Law Revue Video Contest, these videos are kind of like that, only shorter (and seemingly taped while all of the participants are tweaking out of their minds).

Don’t know what the Harlem Shake is? You’re about to find out….

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‘If you really wanna party with me…’

Most professional conferences for lawyers are painfully boring. You register, engage in awkward small talk with other attendees, and the time spent listening to the speakers’ presentations is often interrupted by incessant watch-checking to see if time is, in fact, going in slow motion. We’re willing to bet that most lawyers would rather subject themselves to the evils of document review than continue to suffer through another monotonous, days-long conference.

But what if in exchange for all of that never-ending boredom, the conference host was gracious enough to provide all of the lawyers present with the concert experience of their lives?

That’s a respite from torture that everyone would be willing to pay for….

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RBG, Law Diva

People ask me, “If you could be whatever you wanted to be, what would you be?” My first answer is not “a great lawyer.” It is, “I would be a great diva.” But I totally lacked that talent, so the next best thing is the law.

– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, commenting on her true career ambitions during a recent interview about opera on New York Public Radio station WQXR’s “Operavore” program. (In Italian, a diva is a celebrated opera singer.)

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