Copyright Law Update: Burbank HS Choir Boosters Not Liable for Alleged Copyright Violations

Previously, I wrote and have covered in the TLO live webinars an interesting copyright case that could affect scholastic and independent music programs nationwide.  That case is Tresona Multimedia, LLC v. Burbank High School Vocal Music Association, Inc., et al. in federal court in the the Central District of California.

One of the most startling claims that Tresona alleged was that the choir’s booster organization can be held liable for alleged copyright infringement involving the school ensemble's performances.  This was a novel theory and to my knowledge never tested before.  

Fortunately, sanity has intervened in this case.  The booster organization in this case filed a motion for summary judgment, which if granted, would have excused them from the case.  They were successful. 

On February 22, 2017, US District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled that the boosters’ motion for summary judgment was granted.  The legal standard for granting a summary judgment motion in federal court is basically that if the judge or jury assumed all the facts that the plaintiff alleged were true, that no reasonable jury would agree with the plaintiff’s legal theory.  In other words, that the plaintiff’s legal theory was so substantively weak that no one could rule in their favor. 

In so doing, Judge Wilson rejected Tresona's legal theory that a booster organization can beheld liable for copyright infringement alleged against a performing ensemble which the boosters’ financially support.  This is sound policy and can be summed up by the following quote from Judge Wilson’s opinion:  

"To find that the Boosters Club exercised control over Greene and Carroll would be analogous to finding that a high school football team's boosters club could tell the coach what plays to run."

To read the entire opinion, click here.

Bryan Tuk Named to Board of Directors of Pittsburgh Youth Chorus

Bryan Tuk has been named to the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus.  "We are delighted to welcome Bryan Tuk to our board of directors." said Edwina French, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus.  "His legal expertise, coupled with his knowledge and personal experiences working with non-profits, will be a tremendous asset to Pittsburgh Youth Chorus as we work to increase our outreach in the Pittsburgh region."

"Engaging in the community is incredibly important.  With TLO's continuing expansion into Pittsburgh, this is a terrific opportunity to support a worthy nonprofit arts organization that is doing great work there," said Bryan Tuk. 

As the Pittsburgh region’s leading and premier choral ensemble for young singers, Pittsburgh Youth Chorus is dedicated to enriching lives through professional-level choral education and performance.  Pittsburgh Youth Chorus provides opportunities for a diverse group of children to realize their innate artistic potential and share experiences that enrich their lives while benefiting their families and communities. Over the years, more than 2200 children and teens have participated in PYC's progressive program of choral education, mastering challenging choral repertoire in a variety of genres and languages and receiving a solid education in music theory and vocal production.

Nonprofit Law Update: Pennsylvania Creates Nonprofit LLCs and Benefit Companies

Nonprofit leaders have some new options when it comes to how to organize their business.  Recent changes to Pennsylvania law have paved the way for the easier creation of charitable entities. 

On February 21, 2017, PA Act 170 of 2016 went into effect with the stated purpose modernizing, clarifying, and replacing outdated laws.  Act 170 amends Title 15 (Associations Code) and Title 54 (Names) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.  

In general, Act 170 replaces the 1914 version of general partnerships, limited partnerships and limited liability companies with the Uniform Partnership Act (UPA), the Uniform Limited Partnership Act (ULPA) and the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (ULLCA). These changes create better consistency between an LLC and Corporation, and clarify taxation and owner protection. 

The big news for nonprofit leaders, however are the provisions of Act 170 which are specifically related to nonprofits, namely the creation of Nonprofit LLCs and Benefit Companies.

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Copyright Law & Marching Arts: The School Concert Exemption

Over the past few months, I have had in depth conversations with WGI, DCI and DCA ensemble directors about Copyright Law and how the changing legal landscape is affecting the Marching and Pageantry Arts.   One of the main discussions is about when performing ensembles fit into the School Concert Exemption of the Copyright Act. 

Let's rewind: The Copyright Act (the "Act") is a federal law that regulates the rights of creators and the rights of third parties to use licensed (i.e. copyrighted) content.  The basic rule is that one cannot legally reproduce, perform or distribute the copyrighted work of another person unless: 1) you have obtained a written license from the rights holder to do so, or 2) your particular use fits into one of the exemptions contained in the Act.  

Note: For the purposes of this discussion, we are not going to talk into the Fair Use Doctrine, which is a subject unto itself. 

One of the exemptions contained in the Act is known as the School Concert Exemption

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Election Law Update: TLO Scores Another Victory for the Luiz Garcia for Mayor Campaign in PA Commonwealth Court

In an eleven page opinion, which you can read below, The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed last week's decision by Lehigh County President Judge Reibman to dismiss the Petition to Set Aside which was filed against TLO Client Luiz Garcia, who is running for the GOP nomination for candidate for Mayor of Allentown.

President Judge Reibman's ruling focused on the Court's lack of jurisdiction to consider the Petitioner's allegations.  The Commonwealth Court opted to decide the appeal on the merits, and noted that "there is no legal authority supporting Objector's petition."

For the full decision, see below: