Archive for the ‘Entertainment Law’ Category

Happy Tax Day

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Wow, 2014 is flying by so far. Can’t believe it’s already tax day. It’s been a busy spring for me so far, this month has taken me to Arlington, Virginia for the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law Annual Meeting, as well as to Fort Lauderdale for the Nova Southeastern Law Sports and Entertainment Law Society Annual Symposium.  Both events included interesting content on current issues in intellectual property, entertainment and sports law.  I particularly enjoyed taking part in the panel at the Symposium on IP and right of publicity issues in video games, and the impact of the recent decisions in the O’Bannon, Keller and Hart cases on the NCAA and its players. 

 In addition to it being the time of year to get your taxes in if you haven’t already, it’s also an important time of year in most states for corporations.  As you may know, one of the major benefits of incorporating your business as a corporation or similar business entity is that it provides a means of protection for the company’s owners from potential personal liability for the actions of the corporation.  Part of keeping this protection involves not only registering with the state, but also maintaining it by filing the company’s annual report with the Secretary of State for that particular state.  The annual report is important because if it is not filed in a timely fashion, the company will be what is called administratively dissolved.  This means that if you don’t file the annual report, you could lose the protection from personal liability from corporation actions during the time the company is out of compliance.  Here in Florida, the deadline is May 1st to file an annual report with the Department of State.  I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the deadline in your state if you have a business, and make sure that your paperwork is filed by the respective deadline for that state, or consult with an attorney in your area to help you do so.  

Hot Topics in Entertainment Law for 2012- Part I

Friday, May 25th, 2012

So 2012 seems like it will be another interesting year in entertainment and intellectual property law.   I discussed my predictions for the year in terms of hot topics in social media and the law over at the Social Media Club Clubhouse, and will be posting a midyear update soon, so I thought I would discuss some hot topics I’ve noticed in entertainment law over here. 

A big topic to keep an eye on is termination of copyright grants.  You may have read about the recent court decision in favor of Village People singer Victor Willis allowing him to terminate his portion of the grant of copyright rights to Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions, the companies who administer the music publishing for the group’s songs.  You will likely be seeing more litigation in this area, as 2013 will be the first year in which songwriters and recording artists who made grants of their copyrights to publishers or record labels can terminate those grants under the copyright law.  In 1978, an extension of the copyright act went into effect that granted artists the right to terminate their copyright grants 35 years after that grant under section 203.  There are some strict requirements to send a termination notice, and the notice must be sent not less than two years before the termination date, and not more than 10 years before that date.

Think of the artists who would have been making these copyright grants 35 years ago…some big names come to mind: the Eagles, Bob Dylan, the Village People, Tom Petty, the list goes on and on.  Losing the right to license these songs or recordings could be a big blow to a record label or music publisher, which is why you will likely see a lot of litigation next year trying to prevent these terminations from going through.  Another wrinkle that arises when you are talking about termination is whether sound recordings fall within the termination provisions of the copyright law.  This has its roots in the provisions in most record contracts that states that any recordings created during the term of that contract are works made for hire that would be owned by the record label, and the fact that sound recordings are not one of the categories of works that can be works made for hire.  If the recordings were found to be works made for hire, under the copyright law they would be seen as having been authored by the record company, and giving the termination right to the label rather than to the artist. 

I think that’s a good place to start, enjoy the food for thought.  Up next, I’ll discuss recent developments in right of publicity cases, especially in music video games.  

New Books, Stage Collapses and Milestones, Oh My!

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Howdy folks, sorry to have fallen off the blogging wagon for a while there.  The last few months have been pretty hectic with a move to an in-house position with a technology company in Orlando and all the fun that comes with moving and getting settled.  But things are settling down, and I’m hoping to get back to posting on a more regular basis.

To start, I am proud to announce the publication of a book that I contributed a chapter to, The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Video Game Development.The American Bar Association's Legal Guide to Video Game Development

I contributed chapter 2, which is about business and finance issues to consider when starting a video game company.  I am really excited that it is out, and want to thank my colleague Ross Dannenberg, who edited the book, for the opportunity to take part in the project.  Ross also is one of the principal authors of the blog Patent Arcade, which covers video game IP law, I encourage you to check it out.

Also, in the midst of all that has been going on, I missed celebrating the two year birthaversary of my firm, can’t believe how fast the time has gone.  I’m looking forward to another year of working with creative and interesting clients.

Next, in light of all the scary stage collapse stories in the news in recent months, I wanted to take some time to talk about stage riders.  @catherinereach had inquired about them in response to a tweet I had posted about the unfortunate stage collapse and resulting deaths at the Pukkelpop festival earlier this month, and whether safety requirements are typically part of the contracts bands sign.  The answer is typically yes, though it depends on the level of festival or event involved, as well as the sophistication of the parties.  As you can see in Metallica’s rider for their 2004 tour, there is a provision on page 9 giving the band the right to cancel their performance in the event that they feel the band or fans would be subject to bodily injury.  It also calls for the party booking the band to provide general liability insurance, and abide by applicable health and safety regulations.   Now a bigger band like Metallica will have a crew traveling with them to handle matters like the rigging of lights and sound, which provides them with some means of protecting against disaster, but as Warped Tour creator Kevin Lyman noted in a recent interview with Alternative Press, there is nothing you can do to completely safeguard a festival.  It’s an interesting read, as is this article published by The Hollywood Reporter on the recent festival disasters.  It provides an interesting perspective on the infamous Van Halen rider request that no brown M&Ms be placed in their dressing room.  This request was included, as many rider requests are, to ensure that the promoter had read the contract and complied with its requirements, including following the safety requirements for setting up the stage.  The best bet for a band is to ensure that stage safety requirements are set out in its rider, and that the contract calls for the promoter to have adequate insurance in the event of an accident.  But even with a contract in place, don’t forget to trust your instincts as well.  It has been reported that a last minute decision by Sugarland’s tour manager to keep the band from going on stage may have made the difference in preventing the band from being harmed in the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.  So, to sum it up, get your requirements in writing and trust your instincts when it comes to stage safety.

And finally, speaking of festivals, do check out Fest 10 via the ad in the sidebar.  Looks like it will be another amazing 3 days of music invading Gainesville this year.  Check out the free comps and all the other Fest goodness over at their site.

Band Operating Agreements

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

So 2010 is quickly coming to a close, and I thought I would get one last post in to wrap up the year here at the PunkLawyer blog.  There has been quite a bit of hubbub online about the departure of founding members Josh and Zac Farro from the band Paramore, including dueling blog accounts of the circumstances surrounding said departure.  To read the posts and view the videos, check out the coverage over at Alternative Press.   While I’m not familiar with the actual operation within the band Paramore, I thought that this would be a good time to discuss band partnership or operating agreements.

More bands than you would think have operating agreements in place.  These agreements can vary somewhat according to the type of business entity such as a corporation or limited liability company that a band chooses.  The decision to create a business entity is important, and something I will cover in a future post.  Depending on the particular entity you choose, an operating agreement can be required.  This agreement will typically cover who is on the board of directors of the company, when, where and how often they will meet, how they can vote, and otherwise run the company.  For a band, such an agreement can also address what rights members have to make purchases beyond a certain dollar amount on behalf of the band, as well as to enter into contracts on its behalf.

A particular area of importance to address in a band partnership or operating agreement is what happens when a member leaves.  This is also an important issue for startup companies, where like a band a member can leave and potentially wreak havoc on the company if a procedure for the departure of that person is not in place.  Think of the bands you have seen that tour with only one or two of the original members but still use the same name.   While in some instances this may be done without the permission of the original members, in others it comes down to who owns the rights to the band name.  A famous example is Guns N’ Roses, who have continued to exist in various incarnations with Axl Rose as the only remaining original member.  The story goes that when the band was renegotiating its contract with Geffen Records, Axl had language added to the contract stating the he alone would own the name of the band.  Once the band members signed that contract, Axl had the legal right to use that name.  This would mean he can perform under that name with different members, license it for merchandise, you get the idea.

So how would you want to structure your band agreement to avoid later disputes as to the ownership of the band name, particularly after a band member leaves?  You would want to include language that states what a departing member would receive in terms of compensation, and that he or she leaves with no rights to the band name, image and the like.  Or your band may have a different view, but generally it is best to spell these type of issues out so that when you’re in the midst of the upheaval that can surround a band member’s exit you know that the issues are clear and in writing.   An entertainment attorney can help your band draft such an agreement, as well as assist you in the process of incorporating or forming another type of business entity.  Of course, you hope you never have to deal with these issues, but as a lawyer I like to try and plan for the worst but hope for the best.  Hope that you all have a happy new year, I look forward to sharing more insights with you in 2011.

Can You Register the Undead for Copyright Protection?

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Hey there interwebs, sorry for the not posting for a bit.  I’ve been keeping busy with clients, writing projects and the punk rock awesomeness of Fest 9.  Fest was amazing as always, what a great weekend of music, hangs and just great community.  Among my favorite sets were Larry and His Flask poolside at the Holiday Inn on day 1, Dear Landlord dressed as Juggalos, as well as the always entertaining Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. It was great to catch up with old friends and meet new friends.  Heard there were some amazing room shows, a secret show by Off With Their Heads, and even a lobby show by Frank Turner, a good time definitely seemed to be had by all.  Kudos to Tony and his Fest crew for another great year.

My post today is about copyright.  I was working on a column for the Scriptwriters’ Network newsletter on the subject, and used vampires and zombies to illustrate a point and thought I would share it here as well.  The copyright law makes distinctions as to what can and cannot receive copyright protection.  One such area is what are called scenes a faire, and it refers to those common elements of a theme such as characters, plots, scenes or other elements that are so indispensable to creating a work that to allow them copyright protection would make it nearly impossible to create another work on the subject.  You’ve probably noticed that when a particular trend is hot, a lot of movies and TV shows come out featuring that trend.  As of late the hot trend was and still somewhat continues to be vampires, though the new hot undead trend seems to be zombies.  Think of the common elements in zombie movies and television shows.  Your list probably includes people who have been bitten by zombies and are now undead, that also have a desire to eat brains, at night time, and attack humans to acquire said brains.  Now imagine trying to make a zombie movie or television show without those elements.  Could be pretty hard, right?  That’s the idea behind scenes a faire and similar doctrines of copyright law, is that to allow those common elements needed to make a zombie movie to be protected by copyright themselves could prevent new original works from being made using those elements.  What copyright does protect is the original expression that results from using those elements to create a work, not the elements themselves.  So the original expression that is ‘Evil Dead’ using those elements is protected by copyright law, but the idea of zombies itself would not be.

Just imagine where the show ‘True Blood’ or ‘Twilight’ books and movies would be if undead people who suck blood, have fangs, burn in sunlight (unless you’re a daywalker), sleep in coffins, and the like were all protected individually by copyright such that you would have to license all of them to create a new work using them.  It’s definitely interesting to think about.  Of course, whether an element is seen as a scene a faire or an infringement by the courts typically depends on whether the element is an expression or an idea.  The closer it is to an idea, the less likely it is to found to be protected, while the closer it is to an expression, the more likely it is to be found to be protected.  There can be instances, however, where an idea and expression are so closely intertwined that the expression can be found to not be protected under copyright because to protect the expression would prevent others from making original works using the elements that are ideas.  So in short, you can’t register the undead for copyright protection.  Hope you have a rad weekend.

Adventures in Austin

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

I spent part of last week at Game Developers Conference Online in Austin.  I’ve been trying to fit in one of the GDC conferences for the past few years, so when I lucked out and won a pass in the online scavenger hunt, I jumped at the chance to attend.  In addition to punk rock, an area I am really passionate about is the intersection of new technology and the law, and attending certainly fed right into that.  Tuesday started off with summits on game narrative, iPod game design, and 3-D stereoscopic gaming.  I had noticed that the game narrative summit featured a session on storytelling in the Rock Band games a while back on Twitter, and made a beeline for it Tuesday morning.  It was a great session, Design Director Chris Foster and Senior Writer Helen McWilliams from Harmonix discussed how they developed the narrative of the game, and a big theme was that they wanted to keep the game as true to the dream of being in a band we all have.  If you didn’t know, a lot of the people at Harmonix either are in bands or were in bands, including Ben Carr of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  The writers capitalized on this treasure trove of anecdotes, and as research recorded the musings of their coworkers one night at a local watering hole.  In addition to designing the game to follow the path a band’s career would take, such as moving on to better transportation and playing bigger venues, the writers also incorporated vignettes that would convey what it would be like to embark on that first trip as a band with a van.  They not only highlighted what was included in the game narrative, but also discussed some of the features that were removed, such as characters that would guide you through the game, as well as a global network of venues.   Narrative was of particular importance in developing the Beatles: Rock Band title, where Chris mentioned that they took great care to not have any virtual Beatles interacting or appearing too close to live footage from their careers.  It was also clear that the writers also took great care to respect the history of the band while creating a game that was fun to play.  Having written and spoken about licensing issues in music video games, it was really cool to get a look behind the scenes at the creative aspects of developing them.

I mostly stuck with the monetization track on Wednesday, and the talk was all about social gaming, virtual goods and how to make money with them.  The numbers on these games are fascinating, one speaker was saying that with a social game, 95 percent of users will not pay for the game, and of the remaining five percent, you really have to focus on the 1 percent who are your ‘whales’ as they say in the casinos.  Forget the 80-20 rule, apparently for social games it’s the 99-1 rule.  If you look at the growth of Zynga in terms of users and dollars, it’s incredible to think that such a small percentage of users is driving it.  Though when you multiply that by the more than 500 million users of Facebook, it’s clear that even a small percentage of such a huge audience can add up to big business.  There was also a lot of discussion of how to keep players engaged and coming back, the strategy and planning that goes into those games is incredible, especially if you consider that the average Facebook game only lasts 45 days.  The quickening pace of game development cycles was also a hot topic at GDC Online, for game apps on the iPhone and iPad the idea is to ship a game every three months.  Given how much time and work goes into programming and developing those games, I cannot imagine how you can turn it around in those short time frames, but companies and individuals are doing it.

Another panel I was excited to attend was the program on legal issues associated with selling virtual goods.  If you didn’t know, I co-edited a book that was released this year on intellectual property issues in computer gaming and virtual worlds that was published earlier this year by the American Bar Association.  Side note, another benefit of the conference was meeting people who responded to that sentence with “that’s awesome” instead of a glazed over look.  I also made a guy’s evening at the kickoff party by saying I liked his “Misfits/Danzig-y’ look.  Hey he did have that look going on.  Getting back to legal matters, Greg Boyd gave a great presentation on the veritable minefield of issues that can arise from selling virtual goods in games, from potentially violating state lottery and sweepstakes laws to SEC and banking regulations.  And that’s in addition to the additional layer of regulations game developers are subject to if their game is targeted at children.  Having recently spoken about some of these issues as part of a presentation on keeping kids safe in virtual worlds for Social Media Club Southwest Florida, I was certainly interested in hearing the presentation.  There were a lot of interesting questions from the audience, which I think there will continue to be as the virtual goods and social gaming areas grow.  Look for more posts on issues with virtual goods and other techie issues to come.     What a week, after GDC Online I was off to an entertainment law meeting, definitely left me feeling like some of my touring musician friends with all this travel.  Or George Clooney in ‘Up in the Air’.  Austin was a blast, I was definitely tempted to stay for the Austin City Limits Festival to see Muse and some of the other great bands on the lineup.

Hey That’s My Band Name!

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

This post comes at the request of Brian over at Punk on Deck, a fun blog about punk rock and baseball.  Do check it out, particularly if you’re a Cardinals fan.  Brian suggested a post about claiming band names, and who has priority if there is a claim by another band that you’re using their name.  Great suggestion, you’ve probably read about this happening to bands and wondered why this happens.  It’s happened to bands like Blink 182 and The Academy Is….  To start, this is an issue of trademark law.  I’ve heard people talk about bands having to change their names because of copyright law, and that’s not the case.  I want you to know what you’re talking about, in part because I want to educate you, and in part because it’s a pet peeve of mine.  Generally, a trademark refers to marks protected in association with goods, and service marks refer to those marks for services.  Trademark law protects word marks, logos, some slogans, even certain scents and colors.

Trademark protection exists on 3 levels: common law, state, and federal protection.  The strongest level is federal registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which gives the trademark owner the right to enforce that mark in every state in the U.S.  To register for federal trademark protection, you have to register for each class of goods or services you will be using the mark.  So for example, for a band, you could register for “providing live musical services,” “clothing, including t-shirts, baseball caps, and sweatshirts,”  and “recorded music on CDs, records” you get the idea.  Federal registration can get expensive as you get into multiple classes of goods and services.  State registration protects, as you would imagine, only in the state or states in which you register.  The benefit of state trademark registration is that it gives you proof to use in court that you have been using the mark since a certain time. However, with the Internet, I’m not sure how well state trademark protection will protect a band name, since the Internet can be accessed worldwide.  You can still enforce a trademark like a band name without registering it for either federal or state protection under the common law, the challenge that often arises is proving the date of first use in commerce.

Why does first use in commerce matter?  Well let’s take a band, perhaps they’re like your band.  After hours of debating potential names, perhaps fighting with your bandmates in the process, agonizing over the perfect name, you settled on what you think is a great name.  So you start touring, selling your music online or in physical product, and start getting a following.  Then, just as you start getting successful, you get a letter in the mail from another band with the same name threatening to sue you if you don’t stop using the name.  This is where first use in commerce and being able to prove it comes into play.  The standard for who has priority to use a mark is who was either the first to use the mark in commerce or the first to file an intent to use application for the mark with the USPTO.  Hopefully you and your bandmates have been keeping flyers, CDs, or other items along the way since you started using the name that would prove when you first used the name in commerce.  Or you registered the mark yourselves online, or perhaps you have consulted an attorney knowledgeable in this area of the law to help you register your name for federal registration.    If you indeed were using the mark first and can prove it, you would be able to fight off the other band and keep on truckin’ under that name as the Dead would say.

But what if you are what is known as the junior user, and weren’t using the name first?  Ideally before starting to use a name, you would have hopefully run a Google search for the name, perhaps set up an alert to see if anyone else is using it, and perhaps consulted an attorney to run a full search.  But even having done all of the above, you could still end up with another band firing off a cease and desist letter to your band demanding that you stop using the name.  If either you weren’t the first user of the name, or you just don’t want to spend the time, money and hassle of fighting to protect the name or paying to license it from another band, it may just be easier to change your name.

The decision of what steps to take as a band vary from group to group.  I’ll discuss band partnership agreements, entity selection and other measures you can take in future posts.  If you visit the USPTO site and perform a basic search of some of your favorite bands, you can see that some bands have chosen to register their band names for federal protection and others who haven’t.  While federal registration gives you the strongest level of protection, it doesn’t automatically do so.  Enforcing a trademark means monitoring for other uses of your mark, and having your attorney send cease and desist letters to those other users in your class of goods or services ordering them to stop using the name.  Some bands just don’t want the hassle and expense of doing so.

So what’s the best course of action in choosing a band name and trying to protect it in the future?  Here are some tips:

  • Run a search engine search for the name, set up an alert like Google alerts to see if any other bands using the name come up
  • Also check sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, as well as domain name registration sites to see if any bands are using the name
  • Run a basic search on the USPTO site to see if the name is registered
  • Consult with an attorney knowledgeable in trademark law to run a search on the name and possibly register it for federal protection
  • If you opt not to register for federal trademark protection, document, document, document the use of the name by your band with corresponding dates so you can prove
  • Address who owns the band name as part of your band partnership agreement or other internal agreement (this can save you a lot of headache later)

Well Brian I hope that answered some of your questions.  If any of you out there have suggestions for topics you would like covered here, please don’t hesitate to send them my way.

So You Want to Be A Rock Band Network Star?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Yesterday I had the opportunity to tour the film department at the University of Central Florida and meet some of the faculty.  I enjoyed seeing some of the new technology the students are using, it’s amazing how small the cameras and sound recording devices are getting.  I didn’t get a chance to get over to their downtown facility, hopefully the next time I’m up there I will get to check out the sound stage and motion capture facility.  After all of the writing and speaking I have been doing about music video games and avatars, I would totally be up for trying out one of those motion capture suits just to see what it’s like.  I know, I’m a nerd, it happens.

Speaking of music video games, this week has brought the release of the set list for Rock Band 3, as well as the announcement of Rock Band Network 2.0.  Harmonix and MTV Games have made some improvements to the Rock Band Network experience, you can read more about the changes here. From the time table released, it looks like new software for submitting tracks to RBN2 will be available starting in October, with song submissions starting early next year and tracks becoming available in the first quarter of 2011.  I know there was quite a bit of excitement about the initial launch of Rock Band Network, I imagine there will be more of the same as the release of Rock Band 3 and the launch of RBN2 get closer, as well as questions as to how to get in on the action.  So if you’re an act interested in getting your tracks on Rock Band Network, what do you need to do?

First of all, you need to check on the status of the copyrights to your track.  A song has two copyrights: one in the underlying composition and one in the sound recording.  In order to submit content to Rock Band Network, you need to either own the rights to both the composition and sound recording, or get permission from the label or publisher who has the rights.  Also, Rock Band Network does not accept covers, or songs with samples, so stay with original tracks.  Keeping tracks clean is a good idea too.

Next, you need to decide if you want to try authoring the tracks yourself or have an authoring company do it for you.  If you’re good with recording technology, it might be simpler to try authoring it yourself.  But be warned, it can be time consuming- the estimated time to author one track for RBN is 40 man hours.  You will need the Reaper and Magma software, as well as an XBox 360, a Gold Level XBox Live Membership, and a Creators Club membership to complete the process.  For more details read up on what’s involved here.  Harmonix is also putting on a series of Rock Band Network authoring training sessions and networking events around the country, check it out here.  If you want to go the authoring company route, shop around.  There are differences in pricing and deals, TuneCore initially was charging $999 to author a song for submission to RBN, though they are now charging $2,500 for authoring a song.  Other companies like RockGamer Studios charge by the minute for authoring.  Also look at if the authoring deal calls for the company to get a percentage of your sales of the track.  Once the track is authored and submitted to Rock Band Network, it must then go through peer review and receive a certain amount of positive feedback before it is made available for purchase.   Once the track is made available for purchase, acts receive 30 percent of the track sales.  The prices range from $1-3, so you can do the math as to how that works depending on the price.  It seems like a great way to get exposure for your music.  If you have tracks up on RBN, how is it going?  What do you think?  I’d be interested to hear from you.

Happy birthday!

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Friday marks an important milestone here in PunkLawyer land, it marks one year since I started my practice.  Not sure if it’s a birthday or an anniversary for the business, but I’m proud to have made it to this point.  It’s been a crazy year at times trying to get a business up and running, but when it gets down to it and I get to practice entertainment law for my clients, I love it.  Negotiating content licenses in this fast changing technological and entertainment environment has been fascinating and has brought me to really think outside the box.  It’s not just knowing what the technology does and can do, but also figuring out if those possibilities match with how the client wants his or her content used.  It’s a tough road, but at the end of the day I’m living my dream, helping clients manage the potential minefields of entertainment and hopefully make a living doing what they love.  As some of my law school classmates like to say, I practice ‘fun law,’ but for me I take it just as seriously as they would a criminal defense case.  So thanks to those who I have met this year, who offered advice, helped me out, and of course thanks to my clients.  I look forward to meeting more of my readers and Twitter followers in the future, it’s been fun getting to know a lot of you online.

In other news, I’ve been working to expand my skill set this week by attending a mediation certification training course.  If you’re not familiar with mediation, it is a form of what is called alternative dispute resolution, where parties can meet with a mediator to work to try and resolve their issues instead of going to court.  Mediation can be used in a variety of settings, from before a lawsuit has been filed to right before it is set to go to court, and in some instances can end up costing less than going to trial.  It also can be used in almost all areas of law, and can avoid having to discuss personal or embarrassing aspects of a dispute in open court before a judge and jury.  I’m excited to apply the skills I’ve learned not only in formal mediations, but also in informal dealings to help my clients work through disputes that may arise in the sometimes crazy world of entertainment.  Look for more on this topic, and if you have questions feel free to send them my way here, on e-mail or via Twitter.  Cheers, and have a great weekend!

Kids in Virtual Worlds, Vinyl and the Kitchen Sink

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

So I was out most of last week in San Francisco at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting. It was great meeting, I do a lot of work for the Section of Intellectual Property Law, so having the opportunity to meet face to face with my colleagues to plan for the year was really helpful. I also got to catch some great programs on current issues in virtual worlds, licensing issues in entertainment law, and potential pitfalls for clients in social media. I also got to see the city a bit, and hang out with Lisa from Amp Magazine. It was so rad to hang with another punk rock girl, there certainly aren’t a ton of us in the scene. I had such a great time out there I almost didn’t want to come back, thank you San Fran.  I feel more alive than I have in a while, can’t wait to go back.

So speaking of virtual worlds and social media, for those of you here in Florida, I encourage you to come to Social Media Club Southwest Florida’s event Monday night. I will be speaking about tips for parents to help keep their kids safe in virtual worlds and social gaming, and a Sergeant from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office will be speaking on online safety for kids and parents. Here is a link with more information, please check it out and register if you can make it: http://www.smcswfl.org/events/august-16th-2010-kids-and-cyber-safety/. I know even some of you punk rockers have kids now, and keeping them safe online is important. Look for more on these and other issues here at the blog.

And also to follow up on the guys in Protagonist, Vinnie Fiorello and the Paper and Plastick gang are putting on a vinyl auction to help the guys try to recover the $22,000 in gear they lost. Please check it out and if you can, bid on some test pressings for a good cause. Here’s more from the Paper and Plastick crew on the auction:

A major ethos in the punk rock community is to rally around causes and help each other in one’s time of need. One instance of the scene supporting itself is when fans help their favorite bands get back on their feet by donating money after suffering the all-too-common gear theft. Boca Raton’s PROTAGONIST suffered a similar fate in June when $22,000 worth of gear was stolen from their trailer just outside of their hotel room, as they were about to enter the studio with Stephen Egerton(Descendents, ALL) to record a new album. In order to help one of its own, PAPER + PLASTICK RECORDS has established an eBayauction of 43 rare Paper + Plastick vinyl test-pressings, and will donate all proceeds to the band.
“When you’re a young band, you are scraping for everything. Any roadblocks, large or small, seem like they might be, and in some cases, can be the end of the road,” confides Paper + Plastick founder Vinnie Fiorello, who has experienced it all with his band Less Than Jake. “Having all of your gear and trailer stolen would fit in the “Uh oh we’re fucked” category of problems a band has to deal with, but in the face of that, Protagonist goes on. With no bitching, they just move forward, not defeated. This auction is my way of helping them keep moving forward.”

TIME IS RUNNING OUT SO PLACE YOUR BIDS AND SPREAD THE WORD Check it out here.

See below for full listing of test-pressings:
• A Wilhelm Scream – s/t
• Anti-Flag – Queens and Kings 7″
• Blacklist Royals – Semper Liberi
• Coffee Project – Moved On
• The Dopamines – Expect The Worst
• Farewell Continental – s/t
• Flatliners/Snips – split 7″
• Foundation – Chimborazo
• Frank Turner – The First Three Years
• fun – Aim and Ignite
• Greenland Is Melting – Our Hearts Are Gold, Our Hearts Are Blue
• Saint Alvia – Joxner
• Slackers – Lost and Found
• Spanish Gamble – It’s All Coming Down
• The Have Nots – Serf City USA
• The Riot Before – Rebellion
• The Swellers – Ups and Downsizing
• Tumbledown – s/t
• We Are The Union – Great Leaps Forward
• West Bound Train – Come and Get It