Friday, October 23, 2009

Endorsements, Bloggers & The Federal Trade Commission: New Rules

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") has just released new rules and guidelines that will govern the disclosures advertisers must make about endorsements contained in their ads and any payments that are made by the advertiser for the endorsement. The rules include bloggers and place a greater duty on celebrity endorsers to be truthful about their connection to products they endorse. Here is a brief FTC summary of the new guidelines. Our initial thoughts about the new rules: be upfront and disclose who is really behind the advertisement, blog, etc. This is going to be interesting and challenging. More to follow.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Copyrights & Music:Does a Cell Phone Ringing in Public Violate Copyright Law?

In an important ruling for the millions of cell phone users whose ringtones play in public - and for the cell phone companies that provide the ring tones - a federal court in New York just ruled that merely playing the ring tone in public for personal (not commercial) purposes is not a "public performance" that would trigger a royalty payment to the copyright owner of the song the ring tone is based on. One of the keys to the decision was that it is limited to personal uses of ringtones "without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage". Thus to the extent someone might be interested in playing ringtones in public for commercial purposes - let's say a "Battle of the Ringtones" contest - this ruling would not apply. Beyond that, one of the interesting tidbits that came out of the court ruling is confirmation of the amount of money the cell phone companies pay in royalties for reproducing the song to begin with: 24 cents. Here is a summary of the court opinion and for those who are really ambitious, here is a copy of the court opinion itself.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A New Kind of Musical Rhapsody: Brian Wilson Set to Complete Some of Gershwin's Unfinished Works

The L.A. Times reported today that Brian Wilson - the legendary songwriter and co-founder of The Beach Boys - has been granted permission to complete some of the unfinished musical works that George Gershwin left behind when he died prematurely at age 38 about seventy years ago. The newspaper story goes into some detail to explain how this came about after all this time and why Gershwin and Wilson may not be the strange musical bedfellows they appear to be at first. This kind of extraordinary creative endeavor holds great promise. We will look forward to the results with great anticipation. is a link to one of our favorite Brian Wilson/Beach Boys compositions of all time which wasn't necessarily a hit: "The Warmth of the Sun". [Brian W. reportedly wrote it the day of the JFK assassination].