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San Francisco Civil Litigation Blog

Key considerations in digital evidence management

Finding evidence alone is not always enough to be successful in a case. All evidence must be carefully analyzed, categorized and managed so that the most compelling evidence can be used efficiently. As digital technology becomes more advanced, it can be possible to manage this evidence digitally. This makes it easier to quickly retrieve certain pieces of evidence, and it also means that potentially thousands of pieces of evidence can be analyzed for trends and significance.

If you are using or considering using digital evidence software, you must pay attention to the following considerations. Digital software needs competent direction from its users, and informed decisions must be made so that integrity can be maintained.

Music industry reeling after Katy Perry copyright verdict

Songwriters, producers, entertainment lawyers and other people in the music industry have reacted with disbelief at the verdict in a recent copyright lawsuit against the pop star Katy Perry. Last month, a jury found that Perry and her co-writers had infringed on the copyright of Christian rapper Flame when they wrote Perry's 2013 hit "Dark Horse."

The lawsuit alleged that "Dark Horse" lifts a brief, minor-key musical phrase from Flame's song "Joyful Noise," which was a hit on Christian radio a few years earlier. In the trial, Perry claimed she had never heard Flame's song, and her lawyers tried to argue that the two songs were not substantially similar. The jury disagreed, and awarded Flame $550,000 in damages.

Senate considers aggressive law to deal with streaming piracy

Many of us remember a time not long ago when peer-to-peer file sharing sites like Napster threatened to financially ruin the music industry. While the law has clamped down on illegal downloading for copyright violations, the market has changed in response. Although illegal downloads have dwindled over recent years, many Americans are now turning to streaming piracy. Many view this practice as harmless, but the truth of the matter is that it still violates the rights of entertainers and copyright holders.

Streaming piracy is a criminal offense, but it is only charged as a misdemeanor, which is a significantly less serious than the offense of downloading piracy. Fortunately, this discrepancy has caught the eyes of lawmakers. In fact, A Senate committee recently sent a letter to the U.S. Copyright Office seeking guidance on its view of illegal streaming services. Responding to that letter, the U.S. Copyright office indicated that it believed that illegal streaming violates copyright holders' right to public performance. It also voiced concern over how illegal streaming may infringe upon a copyright holder's right to control reproduction and distribution.

If a case is complex, get the right advice or refer it on

As an attorney, one of the hardest things to handle is when a client won't listen or when a case simply isn't going to plan. Sometimes, your best efforts aren't going to be enough, and you need to have a back-up plan. That's why it's a good choice to have a relationship with another legal expert who can help in the most trying civil litigation cases.

Whether you're looking for a consultation or another attorney to work with or take on your case, it's a smart choice to find an attorney you can rely on early on.

Copyright law and the mechanical license

An individual who creates a musical composition or lyrics automatically obtains a copyright over those works. This instills that individual with a number of rights, including the right to record and sell the composition, license it for use in commercials and film and television, and to record the music and sell those recordings.

As simple as that sounds, copyright law with regard to music compositions and lyrics is rather complicated, which is why individuals are usually better off if they can discus copyright law issues with an experienced attorney.

Common questions regarding copyright law

Copyrights are designed to protect various types of creative works, including but not limited to movies, music, books, software and business materials.

While filing for a copyright isn't necessarily a challenging process, there are a variety of questions you must address. Here are some of the most common questions:

  • What is the difference between a copyright and patent? Many people confuse the two, but there's one primary difference. A copyright covers creative work itself, while a patent covers processes and products.
  • Is a copyright a necessity? You're under no legal obligation to file for a copyright, but it's in your best interest if you want to protect against another party copying your creative work. For example, if you're in the business of developing software, there may be times when you want to protect your intellectual property rights.
  • What are some of the things that a copyright doesn't protect? A copyright is unable to protect ideas, facts or discoveries. Instead, it's only meant to protect the way these things are described.
  • Who is the owner of a copyright? This depends on many factors, but it's typically the person who creates the work. In the event that an employee creates the work as part of their job, the employer may own the copyright.
  • Does a copyright last forever? Generally speaking, the answer is yes. For an individual, a copyright lasts for that person's entire life, plus another 70 years. For anyone considered a non-person, the copyright lasts for the shorter of 120 years from creation or 95 years of first publication.

Misappropriation of likeness and the right of publicity

Marketing is ubiquitous in society nowadays. Social media, targeting online marketing, and massive television campaigns are commonplace. Oftentimes, companies utilize endorsements to help sell their products and services. However, since access to information about individual's is easy to obtain in today's world, these companies often misappropriate likenesses and violate rights of publicity.

The misappropriation of one's name or likeness occurs when a personal attribute, such as one's name or personal appearance, are utilized without that individual's permission. In order to succeed on a claim for such misappropriation, certain legal elements must be shown. First, it must be demonstrated that permission was not given for the use, then that some protected aspect of one's name or appearance was used. Third, the party that misappropriated the name or likeness must have done so to his or her benefit.

Outside representation may help fulfill your fiduciary duty

As an attorney, you fill a very important and specific role in the lives of your clients. They depend on you to have experience and knowledge in handling cases like the one they have brought to you. Attorneys can build their careers around a tiny niche area of the law, making them able to advocate better for their clients.

When it comes to civil litigation, many attorneys choose to have a broad practice that allows them to work with clients for a number of different kinds of legal concerns. You might rely on your negotiating skills or other assets as an attorney to outweigh your lack of specific experience in a particular area of law.

Strategies for jury selection

The best civil litigators engage in a hands-on approach and familiarize themselves with every aspect of the case. They develop strategies for every aspect of the litigation, even those that happen before the trial formally begins. For example, they develop a strategy for the evidence-gathering process known as discovery, where they question witnesses and subpoena relevant documents.

Another area where the lawyer must be prepared is in jury selection. Civil trials are not always decided by a jury. If there is going to be a jury, the lawyer uses the jury selection process to weed out potential jurors who may be biased against the client.

Basketball star, Kawhi Leonard, files copyright suit against Nike

While Kawhi Leonard is fighting against the Golden State Warriors for the NBA title, the NBA superstar has also entered a legal battle with a juggernaut from the business world.

Recently, reports came out that the Toronto Raptor filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Nike. The dispute involves a logo that Kawhi Leonard drew in college.

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