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An interim legal chief has control of GameStop Corp.’s legal department following the quiet departure of the gaming and electronics retailer’s former top lawyer. Mark Robinson stepped up from his assistant general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer roles, and took over as interim GC during the summer, according to his LinkedIn profile. He succeeds Dan Reed, who had been with the Grapevine, TX-based company for 15 years. GameStop did not respond to a request for comment and had not publicly announced the transition, which Bloomberg Law first reported. The legal department leadership switch occurred in June, around the same time that GameStop appointed former Amazon.com Inc. executives Matt Furlong and Mike Recupero as CEO and chief financial officer, respectively. GameStop has closed hundreds of stores as it attempts to transform into a sleeker technology and e-commerce company. Last year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread lockdowns, traders on social media, primarily Reddit, rallied around the company’s stock and sent shares soaring, making GameStop the first meme stock. Reed, whose profile appeared to have been removed from GameStop’s website, joined the company in 2006 as associate general counsel and reached the GC seat in 2018. He took on the additional role of corporate secretary in 2019. Robinson arrived at GameStop in 2015 as senior counsel and was appointed assistant GC and chief ethics and compliance officer last year. He also serves as secretary of the company’s audit committee. He began his legal career in 2003 as a partner at Jones Day and also worked as a senior counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright before he went in-house for GameStop. … Los Angeles media and entertainment lawyer Jeff Biederman has joined Greenberg Traurig as a shareholder. Biederman was previously a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips’ Los Angeles location. In recent years, Biederman’s work has included more than $1 billion worth of music catalogue sales, according to Greenberg Traurig. In an interview, Biederman said COVID is partly responsible for the boom in copyright deals because the pandemic shut down live shows and tours. “Major deals came from Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks and others,” said Biederman, who represents country artist Dierks Bentley and the estate of Miles Davis. “In addition to legacy publishers buying catalogues, venture capital companies are buying. It was a really frothy market.” Digital media licensing has also picked up over the past year as streaming platforms demanded more and more content. Last year, Biederman worked with Founder6, a Hong Kong-based company that helps fashion influencers develop their brands on social media. The move represents a homecoming long in the making for Biederman, who was a Greenberg Traurig associate in 1998 and 1999. He’s also the second notable entertainment and media hire for Greenberg in recent months. In June, the law firm hired former SoundCloud GC and Facebook music licensing lawyer Neil Miller in London. … The Walt Disney Co. appointed Jill Ratner to take over as the next deputy general counsel of litigation, succeeding Edward Nowak, who retired after nearly four decades with the Burbank, CA-based media giant. Ratner, who joined Disney in 2019 with the company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox, will continue to manage intellectual property, digital antipiracy and technology, and corporate social responsibility for the media giant, adding litigation to her roster of responsibilities when she assumed her expanded in September. At 21st Century Fox, Ratner most recently served as executive vice president and deputy general counsel overseeing litigation, employment and content protection for all of the company’s worldwide operations. She joined 21st Century Fox in 2004 as vice president of litigation and held a number of senior executive positions during her tenure with the company. Prior to that, she worked as litigation counsel at Hogan Lovells and at the Motion Picture Association. During Nowak’s 36-year tenure at Disney, he managed several legal groups including litigation and employment, employee benefits, environmental affairs, product safety, immigration and minors’ employment. He was involved as both a lawyer and an executive in dispute prevention and the resolution of complex business issues throughout the company. Prior to joining Disney, Nowak practiced law with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York, where he specialized in litigation and trial work for many companies and a prominent family services agency. … NASCAR associate general counsel Katie Hoffman has left the racing world to drive the legal department at athlete marketing tech firm Opendorse. After two years as an in-house leader for NASCAR, Hoffman began working in September as the first general counsel at Lincoln, Neb-based startup Opendorse. Opendorse launched in 2012 and has grown rapidly — more than 50,000 athletes and 2,000 sports organizations now use the tech platform to help “understand, grow and monetize their brand,” according to the company’s website. Opendorse recently began offering “end-to-end endorsement management” for athletes and, earlier this year partnered with Twitter to give student-athletes a way to monetize their video content on Twitter. Opendorse has stated the company’s first in-house lawyer will report to the senior vice president of operations. Hoffman’s path to NASCAR’s legal department began in 2018, when she joined International Speedway Corp. ahead of its $2 billion merger with NASCAR the following year. Earlier in her career, Hoffman worked in the NFL as a partnership activation manager for the Kansas City Chiefs following a stint in private practice as a civil litigator in California. … After the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) changed name, image and likeness (NIL) rules for student athletes in July 2021, lawyers across the country stepped up to let the athletes know they’re ready to help them earn money from their personal brands. That includes the multi-state Burr & Forman, which announced it launched BurrSportsLaw.com with information and free consultations with 12 multidisciplinary sports lawyers, including former University of Alabama All-American Kermit Kendrick and Orlando-based tax and estate planning partner Scott Miller. “Since a lot of what I do with my athletes is endorsement-type contracts, NIL opportunities for college athletes dovetails into that,” said Miller, a licensed NFL player agent. “I’m making sure the athlete is protected going forward, that they’re not giving away some future right to advertise in a particular space.” The previous NCAA rules barred student athletes from engaging attorneys and sports agents for the purpose of promoting their personal brands, from which they also weren’t allowed to profit (though states can implement their own rules prohibiting those activities). … The New York-based Klaris law firm — which describes its practice areas as “publishing, documentaries, pre-publication review, licensing, distribution, art, technology, virtual reality, podcasting, and film and TV production” — has hired several attorneys to join its roster: Robert A. Bertsche, Lance Koonce and Katherine Surprenant come aboard as partners; Jocelyn Hanamirian as counsel; and Louise Carron and Josef Ghosn as associates. Bertsche specializes in First Amendment law and media litigation. He was previously at Prince Lobel Tye LLP, where, according to a Klaris firm statement, his clients included “print and online publications, broadcasters, documentary filmmakers and websites.” Koonce arrives from Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, where he was a partner leading that firm’s litigation, technology and blockchain practices, and represented “authors and artists as well as startups and multinational corporations in industries including film, television, music, publishing, consumer products, art and software.” Surprenant, who will head up commercial transactions for Klaris, concentrates on social media and digital advertising, and has worked as general counsel for National Media & Marketing and in “content rights acquisitions and licensing, custom publishing, video production, and website development.” Jocelyn Hanamirian, who focuses on “content creators, brands, and digital ventures,” joined Klaris from the Boston University/MIT Technology Law Clinic. She has also served as in-house counsel at the Walt Disney Company. Louise Carron is former executive director of the Center for Art Law, “where she advised artists, start-ups, and nonprofits across creative industries, with a focus on contractual matters, copyright and new technologies.” Josef Ghosn was a Media Law Resource Center fellow and focuses on First Amendment, copyright and privacy.
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By Stan Soocher
Composers of pre-1978 works often assigned both the initial and renewal copyright terms in their works when signing songwriter agreements with music publishers. But what happens when a grant of the copyright renewal term of a pre-1978 work has been made post-1977?
By Bruce Love
With a significant amount of NFT activity arising from the entertainment and sports industries comes an inevitable need for legal services. But taking advantage of this economic growth is no simple matter for entertainment, media and sports lawyers. It requires an understanding not just of NFT transactions, but also of data security, intellectual property, public policy, and a whole raft of regulatory and compliance issues.
By Ben Thompson and Robert Moorman
There are frequent battles over trademark rights in the entertainment industry. Trademark publication can be an anxious part of the federal application process, with fear of aggressive opposition and costly proceedings looming in the background. But many trademark oppositions, whether they are only threatened or actually filed, afford the applicant a discussion with an opposer that can ultimately be helpful in nonobvious ways.
By ELF Staff
Notable court filings in entertainment law.