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Taylor Swift has hired her outside counsel — a litigator who helped her prevail in a high-profile 2017 court fight with a radio personality she accused of groping — as general counsel of her Nashville, TN-based management company, 13 Management. According to The Wall Street Journal, Douglas Baldridge, who has represented the pop sensation for nine years, will succeed Jay Schaudies, who is retiring after 11 years with the company. Baldridge has been a partner for 17 years at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Venable and is a former chair of its litigation group covering Washington and Virginia. The company has a substantial entertainment practice and has represented clients as varied as Barry Manilow and Snoop Dogg. 13 Management and Baldridge did not respond to requests for comment from Entertainment Law & Finance affiliate Law.com. Baldridge first represented Swift, 33, a 12-time Grammy winner, in 2014 after the U.S. clothier Blue Sphere filed a lawsuit alleging her use of “Lucky 13“ violated the trademark for Blue Sphere’s Lucky 13 clothing line. 13 Management and Blue Sphere settled in 2015 with terms undisclosed. In 2017, Baldridge represented Swift in a lawsuit alleging that radio personality David Mueller groped her during a photo opportunity. Mueller was the first to sue, denying wrongdoing and saying the allegation had wrongly led to his firing. A jury found Mueller had indeed groped Swift. But it awarded her just $1 in damages after Mueller informed the court that Swift only wanted to send a message, not to bankrupt him. 13 Management reportedly will continue to tap Venable as outside counsel after Baldridge departs the firm this fall and moves in-house at 13 Management. … Everpass Media, a National Football League-backed startup that streams live sports and entertainment, has appointed Viviana Betancourt Vasquez as its first general counsel. Betancourt Vasquez joins Everpass from World Wrestling Entertainment, where she was vice president for business and legal affairs. Previously, she served in senior attorney roles at AMC Networks, Major League Baseball and DirectTV. New York-based Everpass launched in March with backing from RedBird Capital Partners and 32 Equity, the strategic-investment arm of the NFL. It distributes live sports and entertainment content to commercial venues such as bars and restaurants. Out of the gate, its marquee offering will be the commercial-venue rights for NFL Sunday Ticket, a subscription service that carries all the out-of-market games produced by CBS and Fox. The NFL and RedBird launched the venture after the NFL parted ways with satellite broadcaster DirecTV, which had held the commercial and residential rights for Sunday Ticket for nearly three decades. YouTube last year struck a seven-year deal with the NFL for residential rights to Sunday Ticket in a deal valued at $2 billion annually, but it didn’t acquire the commercial rights, which The Wall Street Journal has valued at about $200 million a year. … Tegna general counsel Akin Harrison departs the broadcast television giant, the company revealed in a securities filing. Originally part of newspaper giant Gannett, Tysons Corner, VA-based Tegna became a stand-alone company in 2015. It is the largest owner of NBC-affiliated stations in the United States and has a total of 66 stations in 54 markets. Tegna promoted Harrison from associate general counsel to general counsel in 2019, following the retirement of chief legal and administrative officer Todd Mayman. It wasn’t clear why Harrison was leaving. He did not respond to requests for comment, but Tegna said he is pursuing opportunities elsewhere. “We have the highest esteem for him as a colleague and wish him success and fulfillment in his new endeavors,” a spokesperson for Tegna said. Much of Harrison’s tenure as legal chief focused on an unsolicited takeover offer from activist investor Soo Kim and his Standard General in 2020. Tegna ultimately agreed to be acquired for $5.4 billion, but the deal ran aground amid Federal Communications Commission concerns that it would trigger price increases for consumers as TV stations raised the amounts charged cable providers. Critics also feared it would reduce local content on TV stations. Tegna has 6,300 employees. In 2022, it earned $631 million on $3.3 billion in revenue.
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By Stan Soocher
Reversing and remanding, the Ninth Circuit emphasized: “The district court’s approach of reducing choreography to ‘poses’ is fundamentally at odds with the way we analyze copyright claims for other art forms, like musical compositions.”
By Katherine A. Baker, Jeffrey M. Kelly and Joshua L. Kirschner
The gaming and wagering sector has begun to cross paths with artificial intelligence technology in ways both predictable and unforeseen. As with other industries, AI technology inevitably has found its way into various components of the gaming experience. What is striking, however, is how AI is revolutionizing gaming for operators, regulators, suppliers and patrons alike.
By Jeffrey Campolongo and Scott M. Badami
Does the ability to receive remuneration for being a college athlete mean that the students are deemed employees of the university? Do employment laws apply? Are labor laws enforced? Does OSHA enter the equation? What about HIPAA concerns relating to medical conditions and injuries?
By Entertainment Law & Finance Staff
Notable court filings in entertainment law.