Explore IP/arts externships:
Teri Silvers and Karen Sandler, Lecturers-in-Law, 4 credits (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)
This course provides students with practical experience in intellectual property, entertainment and nonprofit law as they assist staff attorneys at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) in their representation of artists and nonprofit arts organizations. Through class discussions and journals, students reflect on the wide variety of clients and issues they encounter in their fieldwork, and engage in critical thinking about the role that law and lawyers play in the arts and entertainment world.
Students attend weekly two-hour seminars designed to reinforce and expand on their work at VLA through discussion of cases, agreements, reflections from student journals and analyses of the concepts from various readings. We cover topics such as copyright, trademark, not-for-profit law, music rights and intellectual property licensing, as well as practical skills students need to work effectively at VLA, such as client interviewing, client counseling, and contract negotiation. There are assigned readings and journals or short papers due each week.
In a typical 14-week semester, students spend 11 hours each week working at VLA, for a total of 144 hours for the semester. The work is split over two days, in two shifts that must fall between VLA's working hours of 10-6 pm. VLA's clients are low-income artists and nonprofit arts organizations. Their legal concerns fall primarily into the areas of copyright, not-for-profit incorporation and tax exemption, trademarks, the music industry, and other arts and entertainment related areas. Clients typically seek assistance reviewing, negotiating and/or drafting contracts; resolving disputes; protecting copyrights and/or trademarks; and becoming a nonprofit tax-exempt organization. Students will prepare for and participate in client intake, clinics and consultations. They will spend at least half their time on substantive research projects assigned by VLA staff attorneys, on issues arising from client representation, VLA educational programs and advocacy. Students participate in two role-playing exercises: a client counseling session and a negotiation.
Students receive four credits – two academic credits for the seminar and two clinical credits for the fieldwork. The seminar will be graded with letter grades. The fieldwork will be graded Credit/No Credit. Grades will be based on class participation, written work and performance in the simulated exercises. Performance in the fieldwork portion of the course can influence the grade for the seminar by half a grade in either direction (e.g. poor performance at VLA will lower an A- to a B+).
Ben Gross, Lecturer-in-Law, 4 credits (2 for seminar; 4 for fieldwork)
Founded in 2009, Genius is the world's most popular destination for song lyrics and music knowledge—reaching more than 100 million fans every month. Genius is a leading brand in music online, producing popular video series like Verified, Deconstructed, Genius News, and Open Mic. Genius’s mission is to celebrate “more than the music”—the lyrics, the stories behind the songs, and the connections that drive culture forward. Students participating in this externship will provide pro bono educational and legal services to artists navigating their early careers in the music industry. This externship is an extension of Genius’s BEAT program. Launched in August 2020, Genius BEAT—Business Education for Aspiring Talent—offers aspiring artists free educational seminars covering core topics in the music business. Through the externship, these artists will have access to personalized legal advice and representation in connection with their music careers. As part of Genius’s ongoing commitment to Black communities, the externship and Genius BEAT will both specifically seek to serve young Black artists, especially those living and working in New York City. The goal of the externship is to give CLS students an opportunity to gain real experience while serving a population that is historically underserved and exploited. This externship is taught by Ben Gross, Genius's General Counsel.
The weekly seminar will cover core topics in the music business, including music publishing, label agreements, negotiation, management arrangements, appearances, sponsorship, and more. Students will: learn how music rights interface with the actual music industry, take a deep dive into a real-life label agreement (Kanye’s!), participate in simulated negotiations, and more.
Students will team up with a supervising attorney to represent and advise local artists. Students will help their clients: protect their work, structure collaborations, evaluate manager/label/publisher agreements, and more. Students will also work with Genius’ artist relations & legal team to build out materials for future Genius BEAT seminars.
The course will be limited to 6 students and is open to JD and LL.M. candidates. There are no prerequisites to take this course