By Banu Naraghi, Esq. Firm News March 27, 2018
Gerard Fox Law is a fierce advocate for artists, musicians, and songwriters. In 2016 the firm began representing the Songwriters of North America (“SONA”) in an effort to help songwriters reverse the injustice that has incurred as a result of the Department of Justice’s consent decrees. The firm recognized the vital and under-appreciated role that songwriters play in the music industry and sought to stand up against the Department of Justice’s interpretations of the consent decrees and fight for songwriters’ due process rights.
Since the firm boldly filed suit against the Justice Department, the Attorney General, and the head of the Antitrust Division in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Songwriters of North America et al. v. United States Department of Justice et al., No. 1:16-cv-01830 (D.D.C. filed Sept. 13, 2016)), Broadcast Music, Inc., one of three well recognized performing rights organizations in the United States, obtained a crucial victory in its own suit against the Justice Department. In September 2017, the U.S. Southern District of New York agreed with BMI and ruled that the consent decrees do not require full-works licensing and that fractional licensing, which has been the common industry practice for decades, is appropriate. This was an incredible victory for music creators and songwriters because fractional licensing requires a music user (i.e. a licensee) to obtain a license from each songwriter’s performance rights organization before the user has a right to use a song. This decision is essential to the health of the music industry and protects the songwriters from both knowing when their music is licensed and making sure that they are receiving proper royalty payments once their work is exploited.
The firm has continued its mission to serve as an advocate for songwriters and filed a suit on behalf of songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler against Taylor Swift and the co-writers for Swift’s song “Shake it Off” last September. “Shake it Off” notoriously reused the lyrics in Hall and Butler’s 2001 hit “Playas Gon’ Play” without asking the songwriters for permission and without providing them credit. The firm faces an uphill battle in the Ninth Circuit due to the Circuit’s interpretation of the Copyright Act, which inadequately protects copyright holders, but is dedicated to pursuing this matter until justice is served.
Gerard Fox Law is extremely passionate about the mistreatment of songwriters and truly believes that songwriters are the backbone of the music industry. The firm’s founder, Gerard P. Fox, has a long history of advocating for musicians stemming back to 2001, when he successfully represented the Isley Brothers in a copyright infringement action against Michael Bolton. Mr. Fox and the firm have since represented numerous artists and songwriters such as Anita Baker, Tom Waits, Janet Jackson, Madonna, The Units, Mickey Free, M.C. Hammer, Michael McDonald, and George Clinton. The firm is eager to continue to pursue these matters and make sure that songwriters receive the compensation, appreciation, and respect that they deserve.