I am thrilled to announce that I will join the tenured faculty of The University of New Hampshire School of Law this fall as a Full Professor.
UNH Law, formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center, is a leader in intellectual property law, social justice, sports law, and innovative practical preparation and is ranked 82nd by US News & World Report. It is also home to the preeminent Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property (FPCIP) and the UNH Sports and Entertainment Law Institute (SELI).
I look forward to serving as an integral part of both FPCIP and SELI, and I will also continue my work in the areas of Trusts & Estates and Inclusion & Equity.
I am excited to announce that my hiring class includes Ryan Vacca. He is the David L. Brennan Professor of Law at The University of Akron School of Law, where he also serves as the Interim Co-Dean and Director of the Center for Intellectual Property Law & Technology.
My departure from Widener Law Commonwealth is bittersweet; I have loved my time here! WLC has been a tremendous place to evolve as an educator and scholar in the legal academy while surrounded by wonderful, supportive colleagues and inspired by fantastic students (whom I will miss most of all!). Thank you for the well wishes I’ve already received.
Article Alert: Statutory Heirs Apparent explores copyright termination right succession in the entertainment industry
My latest article, Statutory Heirs Apparent: Reclaiming Copyright in the Age of Author-Controlled, Author-Benefiting Transfers (119 W. Va. L. Rev 297 (2016)), explores the intersectionality of estate succession laws and copyright and the unintended conflict between a deceased author’s testamentary freedom and the right of the decedent’s statutory heirs to terminate the decedent author’s lifetime transfers.
A number of notable songwriters have successfully reclaimed control over their copyrights from recording companies: Bruce Springstein, Loretta Lynn, Tom Petty, and an original “Village People” member, Victor Willis, for that perennial Karaoke favorite “YMCA”. They all lived long enough to see the copyright termination window open for their respective rights.
However, some authors are not so fortunate.
Case in point: The Ninth Circuit recently heard Ray Charles Foundation v. Robinson, 795 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 2015). That case presents facts analogous to the problem the proposed amendment seeks to resolve; that is, when a statutory heir asserts a termination interest clearly contrary to the decedent author’s wishes.
In that case, Charles named his private charitable foundation as sole heir of his rights and recipient of his royalties during his life and thereafter. In fact, the Foundation is totally funded by the royalties and is prohibited from receiving any other means of support. Separately, he negotiated with his children (all 12 of them) to waive any right to his estate in exchange for half million dollars into an irrevocable trust for each. He died before the termination window opened. The perfect storm. Read more…
Media Alert: SmartTalk Feb. 1 interview re: Black History Month event Nat’l Parks & America’s “Untold Stories”
In honor of Black History Month, on February 8th, Widener Law Commonwealth will host “National Parks & America’s Untold Stories”, led by Alan Spears, Director of Cultural Resources at the National Parks Conservation Association. This event is sponsored by WLC, Black Law Students Association (BLSA), and the Environmental Law and Sustainability Center.
Mr. Spears will explore why maintaining an inclusive and relevant National Park System is critically important to the future of our parks. He will share stories of African American history in our national parks and how National Parks Conservation Association is advocating to create and maintain a park system that reflects all of America. I will discuss the broader role of African-American history as American History.
In anticipation of this event, on February 1, 2017 9:00 AM-10:00 AM ET, Mr. Spears and I will do a SmartTalk WITF segment to discuss the event and some of the untold stories he will share at the event.
Perhaps it’s surprising that Pastor Shirley Caesar never registered her name as a source-indicating mark before now. Thankfully, trademark rights attach even to unregistered marks [NOLO.com] used in connection with sale of goods or, in her case, entertainment services as a world-renowned gospel recording artist.
And now after the “U Name It” Challenge [BET.com w/ sound] became a thing and gave new meaning to the phrase “going viral” recently, Caesar and her legal team realized that securing trademark rights in her name is as important as protecting her copyright interests.
About the “You Name It” Viral Clip
The video clip making viral rounds on social media is an excerpt from a live performance of “Hold My Mule.” The legendary gospel sermon has been edited to revolve around Caesar’s chant, “beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes,” in response to the question, “Grandma, what are you cooking for Thanksgiving?” – BET.com
Associate Professor Tonya M. Evans joins the law school’s senior leadership team as the Associate Dean of Inclusion and Equity.
Dean Evans’ new role includes overseeing the law school’s implementation of its strategic plan, practices, and policies related to diversity, inclusion, and equity in the classroom and legal profession.
Her goal is to inspire and sustain a law school community that champions a culture of respect, civility, professionalism, and inclusivity.
To that end, Dean Evans will oversee and implement the greater University’s strategic goals regarding diversity to:
- Continue to foster a campus climate that values multiple perspectives and experiences.
- Prepare all students for success in a diverse and global society.
- Expand and promote access, equity, and success for disadvantaged and underrepresented students, faculty, staff, and administrators.
- Create and sustain institutional structures and processes to support a culture of inclusivity.
- Promote scholarship related to diversity and inclusive excellence.
She will continue to teach in the areas of intellectual property, property, wills and trusts and entertainment law.
“We are preparing our students for success in a diverse and global society,” said Widener Law Commonwealth Dean Christian Johnson. “I know that Associate Dean Evans will work to create and sustain a campus environment that will promote access, equity and success for underrepresented students, faculty, staff and administration as well as the greater legal community.”
Insight into Diversity and Widener
Recently, Widener University was named, along with a select group of institutions nationwide, to receive an INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine‘s 2016 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, which recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Widener is one of only 83 institutions in the United States to receive the award this year, and the only one in the Philadelphia region.
“As a leading metropolitan university, Widener has made a concerted effort to create a campus community that is dedicated to diversity and inclusion, and I’m very pleased that we are being recognized with the HEED Award,” said Widener President Julie E. Wollman.
A Note About Diversity at Widener
Widener celebrates diversity and embraces multiculturalism as it strives to maintain an inclusive and welcoming campus community. Widener encourages all students, faculty, staff, and guests on campus to respect the dignity of every individual and honor the value of their contribution to its community.
Widener University leadership is also aware that incidents of bias and hate crimes have increased on college campuses around the country. It condemns such acts and encourages all members of our community to follow its bias protocol.