This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings and all the fun stuff in between.
This week: Billboard reveals its yearly list of the top lawyers in the music industry; experts weigh in on the recent copyright infringement lawsuit against the Rolling Stones; Tory Lanez asks for a new trial following his conviction for shooting Megan Thee Stallion; and much more.
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THE BIG STORY: The Lawyers Behind The Music Biz
Billboard revealed its yearly list of top attorneys in the music industry this week, breaking down not only the best dealmakers and litigators at the country’s elite law firms, but also the key players from in-house legal departments at record labels, streamers, concert promoters and more.
Among other things, we asked this year’s honorees to name the pressing concern facing the music business in 2023. One of the most common responses from the folks who get paid to worry about future legal problems? The rise of so-called generative artificial intelligence tools like the popular ChatGPT.
“Those of us representing human artists and songwriters will have to stay ahead of the curve to ensure our clients have the opportunity to evolve in tandem with technology,” said Farrah A. Usmani, an attorney at the firm Nixon Peabody.
To read this year’s full list of Top Music Lawyers – featuring dozens of names with short blurbs on why they matter in 2023’s music industry – go read the entire thing here.
Other top stories…
NO SATISFACTION LIKELY FOR STONES ACCUSER – I took a deep dive last week into the recent copyright lawsuit claiming that the Rolling Stones copied their 2020 song “Living In A Ghost Town” from two little-known tracks, chatting with musicologists and litigators to understand the allegations and whether they’re likely to succeed. Go read what they said here.
MORE ROLLING STONES LITIGATION – In unrelated news, a new trademark lawsuit was filed that centers on the famed “tongue and lips” logo used by the Stones since 1971. The case was filed by a clothing chain that says it was threatened by a UMG-owned merch company with “unfounded” infringement litigation after it featured a similar design on t-shirts. (The band itself is not involved in the litigation and is not accused of any wrongdoing.)
TORY LANEZ DEMANDS NEW TRIAL – Attorneys for the rapper asked a Los Angeles judge for a new trial after he was convicted in December in the 2020 shooting of Megan Thee Stallion, calling the guilty verdict a “miscarriage of justice.” Such requests are standard procedure for someone who has lost at trial, but they are very rarely granted.
NICK CARTER COUNTERSUIT MOVES AHEAD – A Las Vegas judge refused to dismiss a countersuit filed by Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter against Shannon “Shay” Ruth, a woman who has accused him of rape. Ruth claimed that Carter’s defamation case was a so-called SLAPP suit that aimed only to “harass and intimidate” her, but Judge Nancy Alff was not convinced.
COACHELLA SETTLES ‘COACHILLIN’ LAWSUIT – The organizers of the annual festival agreed to drop a trademark lawsuit against Coachillin Business Park, a development site located just a few miles to the north of the grounds. Under the terms of the settlement, Coachillin said it would “cease any and all use” of the name going forward.