Close-Ups

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On December 11, 2020, Alan Epstein was quoted in the Wall Street Journal on the tax benefits at play in the sale of Bob Dylan’s songwriting catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group. According to the article, the price of the sale hasn’t been revealed but is said to be between $300 million and $400 million, making it the latest and largest of a spate of similar deals this year that come with significant tax benefits, both for…
While the COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on commercial real property markets in much of the country, an ever-increasing demand for streaming content has caused existing studio space in Los Angeles and elsewhere to become even more valuable, and the demand for studio space continues to rise. In this Q & A, Venable partner Andrew Schmerzler discusses some of the long-term trends that have contributed to this increased demand, tech companies making a…
A leading voice on politics, race, and sexual orientation, Keith Boykin – a former White House aide to President Bill Clinton – will bring his unique insight to Venable’s Diversity and Inclusion Speaker Program on December 3. The discussion will center on Keith’s personal struggles in coming out as a gay man; his efforts to promote inclusivity and tolerance for other gay men of color; and the importance of minority groups moving away from the…
On November 17, 2020,  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated William Briggs to serve on the city’s Board of Police Commissioners. “Our city is leading the movement to reimagine public safety, revitalize our commitment to racial justice and support our courageous police officers who keep our city safe. And I’m confident that William Briggs will bring an extraordinary record of leadership and commitment to the fight for fairness, equity, and a safer Los Angeles,” said…
As we pass eight months since COVID-19 was first declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, those in media, entertainment, and the arts continue to grapple with the virus’s impact on their business.  Companies in the broader media and entertainment industry have adjusted as best they can to life during the pandemic, offering everything from virtual concerts to new, quarantine-special shows.  Still, many in the industry have suffered dramatic losses…
Well known for their highly publicized interactions with the legal system, Rose McGowan and her former defense attorney Jose Baez faced off this year over conflict of interest allegations in Baez v. McGowan, 2020 Ill. Cir. LEXIS 458 (2020).  Jose Baez is best known for his successful defense of Casey Anthony, a young woman tried for the murder of her two-year-old daughter in 2011, while actress, activist, and author Rose McGowan famously accused media…
Lauded as the “the most important law protecting free speech”[1] and the law that “gave us the modern internet,”[2] Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (Section 230) has been a fixture of recent internet policy debates and blamed for everything from the proliferation of sex trafficking[3] to enabling anti-conservative social media bias[4]. Section 230 says, “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the…
The District of Columbia Circuit Court recently dismissed attorney John Szymkowicz’s defamation lawsuit against the author of the website “Legal Profession Blog,” finding that Szymkowicz failed to demonstrate that his potential damages met the $75,000 threshold required to establish federal jurisdiction. In Szymkowicz v. Frisch, No. CV 19-3329 (BAH), 2020 WL 4432240 (D.D.C. July 31, 2020), Georgetown University Law Center professor Szymkowicz brought a claim for defamation, invasion of privacy—false light, and intentional infliction…
In a now famous Oscar speech from 2018, Frances McDormand encouraged more diverse hiring in the film industry. “I have two words to leave you with tonight,” she told the audience as she accepted her Best Actress trophy,—“Inclusion Rider.” Most viewers had no idea what she meant, prompting immediate online searches of the term. Prior to this, April Reign had created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in response to the lack of diversity at the 2015 Oscars,…
On July 27, Melissane Velyvis successfully argued that a Domestic Violence Protective Order (the Order) was an unconstitutional prior restraint on her freedom of expression. Marin County Superior Court Judge Roy O. Chernus sustained Velyvis’ demurrer to a misdemeanor complaint brought against her for violating the Order in People v. Velyvis, Case No. CR211376A. The Order prohibited Ms. Velyvis from posting anything on social media, blogs, or the internet regarding her ex-husband, Dr. John…