Music

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.)

Lady Gaga

Back in September, we declared that Lil Wayne was the best celebrity deponent of all time, but now we may have to take back that title and hand it over to Lady Gaga, who recently proved herself to be a gigantic bitch on the record in sworn deposition testimony.

In case you were unaware, Lady Gaga is the queen of all things fabulous. She can get away with wearing things — like dresses made entirely of meat, plastic bubbles, and Kermit the Frogs — that not even Madonna would consider. Her little minions monsters span the globe, and will jump to defend her highness at a moment’s notice. Her lyrics are powerful and awe-inspiring, and she’s a major proponent of gay rights, worldwide.

And last, but certainly not least, she’s a true New Yorker, as is evidenced by the f**k-laden deposition transcript that the New York Post got its grubby little hands on….

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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.

We’ve covered the Stephanie Lenz / dancing baby / fair use case for years — but now it looks like there’s finally going to be a trial to consider if Universal Music can be punished for sending a DMCA takedown notice on a video of Lenz’s infant son dancing to 29 seconds of a song by Prince, which Lenz asserts was clearly fair use.

If you haven’t followed the case, it’s been argued back and forth for years. At one point, the court ruled that a copyright holder does need to take fair use into account before sending a DMCA takedown, but that there needs to be “subjective bad faith” by Universal Music in sending the takedown. In other words, Lenz (and the EFF, who is representing her) needs to show, effectively, that Universal knew that it was sending bogus takedowns. The EFF has argued that willful blindness by Universal meant that it had knowledge (amusingly, using precedents in copyright cases in the other direction, where copyright holders argue that willful blindness can be infringement)….

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It’s the last day of December, so it’s a good time to look back on the year that was. We’ll do what we’ve done for the past three years (wrap-up posts from 2009, 2010, and 2011 can be found here, here, and here) and identify the ten biggest stories of the past year as decided by you, our readers. With the help of Google Analytics, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten posts for 2012, based on traffic (as represented by pageviews).

By the way, for the third year in a row, the most popular category page on Above the Law was Law Schools. People have now been intensely focused on the declining value proposition of going to law school for as long as it takes to earn a Juris Doctor degree. Isn’t it time that we graduate from the current educational model?

The second and third most-popular categories on ATL in 2012 were Biglaw and Bonuses. Although this year brought us the largest law firm failure ever, nearly all other firms indiscriminately doled out offers to summer associates, and bonus season looked better for the first time in years. While the legal profession is still in transition, things are certainly looking up, and through the highs and the lows, we’ve been there to cover it all.

So what were the ten most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2012? Let’s find out….

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I certainly do not quarrel with such dispositive authority.

– Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the D.C. Circuit, commenting on the invocation of the Schoolhouse Rock song, “I’m Just a Bill,” as to the degree of ease in which a bill can become a law.

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