Public Lecture Series—Hot Topics in Music Copyright Law

Managing Complexity for Those Who Create and Exploit Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings

Starts:  4/10/2017  12:00 PM
Ends: 4/10/2017 1:00 PM
Location: Collaboratory, third floor, One Palace Road

Copyright law as it pertains to music is notoriously complex. Those who seek to use musical works—both for commercial and non-commercial purposes—must navigate a Byzantine rights landscape. Musical compositions and sound recording are subjects of separate bundles of rights, and responsibility for rights management is divided among a number of different legal and business entities. Some licensing decisions (including, in some cases, the rates charged for licenses) are established by law; others are left to the unregulated market. Digital consumption and distribution of music and the demands of those who seek ready access to musical works for a variety of uses online have shone a light on historic industry practices that have been slow to catch up with modern realities. Both content owners and content licensees could benefit from streamlined processes and clarity around legal rights and responsibilities. This talk will address the current state of the music rights ecosystem, offering a summary of the architecture of the industry and its legal and business underpinnings. It will describe the origins of our modern day music licensing systems and offer thoughts about paths forward toward resolution of some of the more vexing questions faced by rightsholders and those who seek rights to use music. The talk may be of interest to those who create musical works, those who seek to use music in connection with commercial projects or archival initiatives, and those with an interest in developing rights management systems and online tools to facilitate the resolution of concerns about intellectual property rights.

Christopher T. Bavitz is the WilmerHale Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he co-teaches the Counseling and Legal Strategy in the Digital Age seminar and teaches the seminar, Music & Digital Media. He is also Managing Director of HLS’s Cyberlaw Clinic, based at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. And, he is a Faculty Co-Director of the Berkman Klein Center. Chris concentrates his practice on intellectual property and media law, particularly in the areas of music, entertainment, and technology. He oversees many of the Clinic’s projects relating to copyright, speech, advising of startups, and the use of technology to support access to justice, and he serves as the HLS Dean’s Designate to Harvard’s Innovation Lab. Prior to joining the Clinic, Chris served as Senior Director of Legal Affairs for EMI Music North America. From 1998-2002, Chris was a litigation associate at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and RubinBaum LLP / Rubin Baum Levin Constant & Friedman, where he focused on copyright and trademark matters. Chris received his B.A., cum laude, from Tufts University in 1995 and his J.D. from University of Michigan Law School in 1998.

The Public Lecture Series was started in 2004 by Prof. Benoît as a venue inviting faculty, staff, students, practitioners, and the entire College community to share their ideas.