bgtankHere is a marketing conundrum. How do you brand a $575,000 specialty vehicle, built on a Ford truck chassis, that is designed to look like a tank? If you answered “Name it after General George S. Patton” give yourself a 21-gun salute. But here’s the rub—in one of the most astute tactical moves of his storied military career, Patton died in the State in the California which, as we have seen before, is especially solicitous of the eternal publicity rights of anyone who ever died on its soil. In a lawsuit filed the federal court in Los Angeles, the heirs and assigns of “Old Blood & Guts” have brought this heavy artillery to bear on U.S. Specialty Vehicles.




beatles-articleLargeMusic professor, rock historian, and guitarist John Covach has suggested that tribute bands may play an important role in the future of rock music, keeping up a live performance tradition long after the original acts are gone, much as a symphony orchestra keeps the classical repertoire alive. If so, a newly filed case reported on in yesterday’s New York Times, pitting two of the most polished and theatrical Beatles tribute acts–“Rain” and “Let it Be”– may bear watching.



ruddStick around until the lights come up after any movie in which characters sing “Happy Birthday to You” (and there are probably a dozen of those every year), and one of the last credits you see will be a copyright notice for that song, noting that it was used with the permission of Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.  Warner traces its claim to the copyright in “the world’s most popular song” to some piano arrangements of it that were first published in 1935, a claim which, if valid, will not expire until 2030, thanks to various copyright term extensions. Warner’s permission to use the song in movies and other commercial settings does not come cheap. (more…)


One of the guilty pleasures of vinyl record collecting in the 60s and 70s was taking advantage of Columbia House Record Club’s introductory teaser offers, usually 12 records for a dollar, to  purchase in bulk. (Did I hear you say that there must be a catch? Of course, but I’d love to know what percentage of takers fulfilled the reciprocal obligation to buy 12 more at list price.) I am sure we gave no more thought to how the  artists were making out on the deal than do today’s file-sharers.  Now representatives of some of the leading recording artists of the 1930s-50s have filed a lawsuit that will require all of us former Columbia House abusers to do a little soul-searching.



  • Recent Posts

  • Unfair to Genius

    Unfair to Genius is an enlightening and entertaining romp through 60 tumultuous years of legal, artistic, and economic change in the American popular music industry, as seen through the lens of one of its most prolific copyright litigants and legendary outsiders, Ira B. Arnstein. "I suppose we have to take the bad with the good in our system which gives everyone their day in court," Irving Berlin once said, but "Arnstein is stretching his day into a lifetime."

    "Rosen paints a fascinating portrait of one of history's most fertile creative eras--the rise of Tin Pan Alley, or the 'Age of the Songwriter' as Rosen calls it--and the book brims with history relevant to today's disruptive technology climate."

    -Publishers Weekly

    "There's fun to be found in 'Unfair to Genius' as it leavens legal history with showbiz anecdote, and insight with amusement."

    -The Wall Street Journal

    “Superbly researched and written . . . Rosen deftly plots the rise of the music industry in America."


  • Categories

  • Gary A. Rosen

    Gary A. Rosen, a lawyer, has litigated copyright, patent, and other intellectual property cases for more than 25 years, and is a Lecturer in Legal Studies at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Before entering private practice, he served as a law clerk to federal appellate judge and award-winning legal historian A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. He holds a degree in physics from Haverford College and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. He and his wife Lisa, a physician, and their two children live outside Philadelphia.
  • Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: