Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sony Rescinds Settlement Agreement Involving Nina Simone Case

Nina simoneSony Music has recently filed paperwork to rescind a settlement agreement in a case involving Nina Simone’s estate that has been ongoing for 25 years.  The lawyers for Sony have been adamant about keeping the details of the settlement agreement private. 

Steven Ames Brown, who was Nina Simone’s attorney, had been assigned 40% of the rights to Simone’s music that he had previously recovered.  Brown claims that he only conveyed to Sony the reproduction rights to Nina Simone’s music and not the rights to the physical embodiment of the recordings.  Steven Brown and Sony Music had entered into a settlement agreement which Sony is now rescinding on claims that Brown has not lived up to his end of the bargain.

See Ian Holubiak, Nina Simone’s Secret 25-Year Lawsuit With Sony Comes To A Head, Classicalite, May 11, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

B.B. King's Daughters Want To Help With Late Musicians Memorial

Bb kingI have previously discussed the dispute between three of B.B. King's daughters and his manager and guardian Laverne Toney.  The three sisters now hope that Toney will include them in the planning in creating a memorial for the late blues legend.  The daughters were devastated when their father passed away before they ever got a chance to say a final goodbye.

See B.B. King’s Daughters Urge Manager To Let Them Help With Memorial Plans, World Entertainment News Network, May 16, 2015.  

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

 

May 19, 2015 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Guardianship, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Heirs' Copyright Termination Rights Challenged by Ray Charles Foundation

GavelA soon to be decided case heard by the 9th Circuit last month will decide an important issue regarding an author's heirs right to terminate copyright assignments to a third party. Ray Charles willed royalty rights to the Ray Charles Foundation, but his children are attempting to terminate those rights under Section 304(c) of the U.S. Copyright Act. The foundation is appealing a district court decision in favor of the Charles children and finding the foundation lacked standing to challenge the termination, and is asserting a defense of first impression that they have standing to challenge because Charles' compositions at issue were "works made for hire."

See Jonathan B. Altschul, Ray Charles Case to Set Important Copyright Termination Precedent, Pay or Play, March 20, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 25, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Decade Long Bankruptcy Case Seeks Royalty Earnings From Musician's Estate

Billy_PrestonThe bankruptcy case against musician Billy Preston has been ongoing for 10 years, long after his death. The Houston, Texas native known as "The Fifth Beatle" died in 2006 due to damage done to his heart after sustained drug abuse. His manager, Joyce Moore, has fought the bankruptcy suit for the past decade. She claims the entire case is fraudulent. Moore is accused by the bankruptcy trustees of hiding financial records of Preston Music Group Inc. in which she serves as CEO, and withholding gains from Preston's intellectual property and royalties from Preston's creditors.

See Nate Jackson, The Bitter Battle Over "Fifth Beatle" Billy Preston's Estate, Houston Press, March, 11, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 12, 2015 in Estate Administration, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 9, 2015

AEG Victory in Michael Jackson Case Affirmed

JacksonAfter the death of Michael Jackson in June of 2009, Katherine Jackson, Jackson's mother, sued the promoter agency AEG Live for negligence and breach of contract in connection to them hiring Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's doctor at the time of his death. After a jury heard five-months worth of evidence they found for AEG, and Katherine appealed.

In Jackson v. AEG Live, LLC, a California appeals court affirmed the jury verdict, finding that AEG did not breach any duty to Jackson.

See Tim Hull, Appellate Victory for AEG Live on King of Pop's Death, Courthouse News Reporter, Jan. 30, 2015.

February 9, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Country Music Widow Wants to Revive Old Concert Series

Musician1Donna Dean Stevens, widow of country music singer Jimmy Dean, is seeking to resume a concert series in Richmond that took place in the 1940s and 1950s called the Old Dominium Barn Dance. The plans include multiple concerts to take place this year with the first scheduled for Feb. 21, 2015. According to her Federal complaint, she is facing threats and requests for payment from Willis Pittman, Old Dominion Barn Dance Inc., and the Old Dominion Barn Dance Foundation for the Performing Arts, and is requesting a declaratory judgment that her use of the concert's name is not trademark violation because the defendants loss their trademark after more than 20 years of non-use.

See Kevin Lessmiller, Widow Says Barn Dance Must Go On, Courthouse News Service, Dec. 3, 2014.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

January 10, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Post-Death Millionaire Musicians

MusicianForbes' list of top-earning deceased musicians for 2014 has been released, and while the named musical icons may not be surprising, the earned annual incomes may be. Here are the results of this year’s list:

  • In First Place is Michael Jackson at $140 million.
  • Elvis Presley takes second at $55 million.
  • Finishing in third is Bob Marley at $20 million.
  • Runners up include Tupac Shakur, Richard Rogers, Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix.

See Zack O’Malley Greenburg, The Top-Earning Dead Musicians of 2014, Forbes, Oct. 31, 2014.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

November 8, 2014 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Family of Marvin Gaye Survive Summary Judgment Motion

Marvin_GayeAs I have previously discussed, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have brought a lawsuit seeking declaratory judgment against the family of Marvin Gaye that their song Blurred Lines did not infringe on the family’s rights to Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.  The California district court denied Thicke and Williams’ summary judgment motion on Thursday, finding that the Gaye Family has enough of a case to move forward. This is expected to be an exciting case, as already shown by Thicke’s confessions of drug use and public lies in his deposition.

See Eriq Gardner, Judge Rejects Bid of Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams to Win ‘Blurred Lines’ Lawsuit, The Hollywood Reporter, Oct. 30, 2014.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

November 2, 2014 in Estate Administration, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

'Thriller' May Be Coming to a Theater Near You

JacksonAs I have previously discussed, John Landis, director of the music video for Michael Jackson's 'Thriller,' settled his lawsuit with Jackson's estate over unpaid debt in connection to the video in 2012. With litigation over the video complete, Landis has moved forward with his project to re-release 'Thriller' in 3D. The video is expected to hit big screens and DVD next year.

See, Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' to be Released in 3D, News4, Sept. 9, 2014.

October 2, 2014 in Estate Administration, Film, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lou Reed’s Executors Request Surprisingly Low Payment

Lou ReedAs I have previously discussed, the estate of Velvet Underground singer Lou Reed has increased to $20 million since his death last year and is now worth $30 million. Compared to executors of other famous estates, Reed’s executors will be paid a small sum for fees, as they are requesting a total of $220,000. In contrast, the executors for Michael Jackson’s estate are being paid 10 percent, which results in a huge sum considering just one business deal of the estate with Sony was for $250 million.

See Bonnie Kraham, Trusts Can Keep an Estate Private, Times-Herald-Record, Aug. 28. 2014.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 2, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)