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United States > Intellectual property > Copyright > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


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  1. Copyright
  2. Leading lawyers

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The ‘excellent’ practice at Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, PC in New York is best known for its strength in copyright advisory work, particularly in the music, book publishing and fashion industries, and is regularly involved in high-profile litigation. It has been representing Varsity Brands in its prominent dispute with competitor Star Athletica regarding the copyrightability of the client’s cheerleading uniforms; after a victory before the Sixth Circuit, the case has reached the Supreme Court. Also in the fashion industry, the team helped J Crew and Madewell register several jewelry designs and managed successful enforcement efforts against Walmart. Other highlights included the representation of Capitol Records in a dispute with ReDigi, which operated an online marketplace for secondhand digital music, and the defense of Rosen Book Works against Palmer/Kane regarding alleged unlicensed reproduction of photographs. Practice head Jonathan King, Richard Mandel and Eric Shimanoff are noted for their expertise in the music industry, while Richard Dannay and ‘copyright authorityThomas Kjellberg are especially strong in the book publishing area.

Jenner & Block LLP has an outstanding reputation for representing content owners in the music and motion picture industries and is regularly involved in litigation at the intersection of copyright and new technologies. Practice co-chair Andrew Bart in New York has a large number of recording companies as clients. He successfully represented Capitol Records in a long-running copyright infringement suit against now-defunct online music storage service MP3tunes. Co-chair Richard Stone in Los Angeles acts for many motion picture studios and TV broadcasters. He continues to represented Fox against several online services that retransmit TV content, such as FilmOn X and BarryDriller Content Systems. Kenneth Doroshow in Washington DC has been representing Getty Images in a dispute with photographer Carol Highsmith regarding the licensing of photographs that were donated to the Library of Congress. Other clients of the practice include the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America, the Authors Guild, the Entertainment Software Association, Paramount Pictures and Universal Music.

The ‘excellent’ team at Kirkland & Ellis LLP provides ‘spot-on copyright advice’ and is regularly involved in high-profile cases. For example, it continues to represent Fox News in the prominent dispute with the media monitoring company TVEyes, which defends its provision of TV news broadcasts for subscribers as fair use. Other highlights included acting for Oracle in its long-running dispute with Google regarding the use of Oracle’s Java source code in Google’s Android operating system, representing Cisco Systems in a software copyright infringement suit against Arista Networks, and the defense of Damien Hirst against allegations by a Canadian artist in a jewelry copyright matter. Other clients include IBM, Limited Brands and Take-Two. ‘Smart and responsive’ practice head Dale Cendali, Johanna Schmitt and Claudia Ray, all of whom are based in New York, are recommended, as is Diana Torres in Los Angeles.

Loeb & Loeb LLP is recommended for copyright advisory work in the music, motion picture and television industries, and also frequently handles prominent contentious matters. Highlights included the representation of Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios in a copyright infringement suit against the producers of a crowdfunded, non-profit Star Trek fan film, as well as acting for Sony/ATV, Warner Chappell Music and others in a copyright infringement case against online music archive Wolfgang’s Vault. On the defendant side, the team successfully represented 21st Century Fox against two screenwriters who claimed that the Fox series New Girl infringed their screenplay Square One, and acted for BMG Rights Management in a suit filed over copyright termination rights. Other clients include MGM, Warner Bros, and NBCUniversal. Practice chair Barry Slotnick and Jonathan Zavin in New York as well as David Grossman in Los Angeles are recommended.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s ‘top-notch’ team in New York has a ‘deep understanding of the issues that matter for tech clients’. It frequently represents distributors in first impression copyright litigation and has particular expertise in music licensing. Highlight included the representation of Sirius XM in music royalty rate-setting proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) against SoundExchange, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, the Recording Industry Association of America, and others, as well as the representation of Pandora Media against the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) in royalty rate proceedings before the CRB. In the book publishing sector, the firm continues to represent Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, SAGE Publications and the Association of American Publishers in a long-running dispute with Georgia State University regarding the digital distribution of book excerpts to students. On the defense side, it successfully represented Facebook and Instagram against copyright infringement claims by photographer Jennifer Rondinelli Reilly. Practice head Bruce Rich is recommended along with Benjamin Marks, Randi Singer and Todd Larson.

Newly merged firm Arnold & Porter has a copyright team that regularly acts for motion picture studios, TV broadcasters and sports leagues, often handling major copyright disputes. Highlights included the representation of several TV broadcasters, including ABC, Disney and NBCUniversal, in a long-running series of disputes with the online streaming service FilmOn and the representation of Joint Sports Claimants, a consortium including Major League Baseball, the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association, in proceedings before the CRB. Other clients include CBS, Walt Disney and Machine Zone. Practice head Robert Garrett in Washington DC as well as John Ulin and James Blackburn in Los Angeles are recommended.

Boutique Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, P.C. in New York is highly regarded for its copyright advisory work in the entertainment industry. James Weinberger, Roger Zissu and David Donahue are particularly recommended. The team counsels major motion picture studios on copyright protection, handles music licensing deals and assists with enforcement actions against online infringements. It also advises on author-publisher agreements, e-book rights and has niche expertise regarding ownership of literary characters and related infringement issues. Clients include the Alexander and Mabel Bell Legacy Foundation, DC Comics, and Warner Bros Entertainment.

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Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton’s broad practice handles a variety of advisory and contentious copyright matters. Recent work includes the representation of Sugartown Worldwide in a copyright infringement suit against Old Navy regarding the use of protected fabric designs and the representation of Sony Interactive Entertainment and its affiliates in music copyright litigation. On the advisory side of the practice, the team assisted Interface Inc with copyright protection of textile patterns and advised Dominion Enterprises on Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) matters. Silicon Valley-based practice head Joseph Petersen is recommended along with Larry McFarland in Los Angeles, Marc Lieberstein in New York and senior counsel Joseph Beck in Atlanta.

Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp is well known for assisting clients in the motion picture, television, music, video game and publishing industries with copyright matters. Practice head Karin Pagnanelli is recommended along with Russell Frackman, Robert Rotstein and Marc Mayer, all of whom are based in Los Angeles, as is Christine Lepera in New York. Highlights included the defense of Lionsgate and others against claims of copyright infringement regarding the motion picture The Cabin in the Woods and the defense of Fox against actor Frank Sivero, who claims that the character ‘Louie’ from the television series The Simpsons is based on characters that Sivero played in the films Goodfellas and The Godfather II. Other clients include Capitol Records, Sony Music and Blizzard Entertainment.

The ‘excellent’ team at Proskauer Rose LLP is recommended for copyright matters in the entertainment industry, and particularly for contentious matters in the music industry. Highlights included the successful defense of Madonna and Warner Bros against a copyright infringement claim by VMG Salsoul regarding the use of a 0.23-second sound sample, which was considered de minimis by the Ninth Circuit. Other clients include BMG, Sony Music Entertainment, Reed Elsevier and the Authors Guild. Practice head Sandra Crawshaw-Sparks is ‘very knowledgeable, responsive and proactive’. Other recommended lawyers include music industry expert Alexander Kaplan and Charles Sims, who has particular expertise in fair use issues and matters at the intersection of copyright and First Amendment law.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP’s litigation team regularly handles high-profile copyright disputes, particularly when it comes to defending online service providers against claims from copyright holders. For example, it successfully defended the video-sharing website Vimeo against copyright infringement claims brought by Capitol Records and others, and it continues to represent the media monitoring company TVEyes in its prominent dispute with Fox News. Other recent work includes the defense of Alibaba in a dispute with Freeplay Music involving music used for promotional videos, and the representation of Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and Clifford Harris Jr in a dispute with the heirs of Marvin Gaye. Practice head Robert Raskopf and Todd Anten in New York are recommended along with Rachel Herrick Kassabian in Silicon Valley.

Winston & Strawn LLP’s ‘excellent’ team is especially recommended for representing service providers in high-profile disputes at the intersection of copyright and new technologies. Highlights included the representation, respectively, of internet service providers Cox Communications and Charter Communications in multiple copyright lawsuits brought by Sony, Warner Bros, Universal Music Group and numerous other leading record labels alleging that the firm’s clients are liable for potentially billions of dollars in damages for allegedly turning a blind eye towards acts of alleged copyright infringement by their broadband customers. The team is also representing Bill Graham Archives (formerly Wolfgang’s Vault) in several matters, including another large-scale copyright infringement lawsuit involving sound and video recordings. Other clients include PepsiCo and Yahoo! Michael Elkin and Thomas Lane in New York are recommended, along with Jennifer Golinveaux in San Francisco and Erin Ranahan in Los Angeles.

Covington & Burling LLP’s practice is very experienced in online piracy and DMCA liability issues and regularly assists clients with their anti-piracy programs and targeted copyright enforcement. For example, it continues to assist the NFL in combatting the unauthorized re-transmission of game telecasts over the internet. Other recent work includes representing Microsoft in a software copyright infringement suit against Weidmann Electrical Technology and acting for PBS and its member stations in matters before the CRB regarding the distribution of statutory copyright royalties. The practice is chaired by Simon Frankel in San Francisco and of counsel Ronald Dove in Washington DC. Clara Shin, also in San Francisco, focuses on technology-related disputes.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s team has ‘extensive experience in copyright counseling and litigation’. It has been defending the NFL against claims by retired NFL players, who sought payment for the NFL’s continued use of game action footage. In a software copyright matter, it has been representing Rimini Street in seeking a declaratory judgment that the software maintenance services it provides do not infringe Oracle’s copyrights. Other clients include Bridgestone, Symphony Space and the New-York Historical Society. Practice chair Jeffrey Cunard in Washington DC is ‘very knowledgeable’ and Jim Pastore in New York is a ‘skilled litigator’.

Durie Tangri LLP in San Francisco is well known for defending technology companies in high-profile copyright disputes. Highlights included the successful defense of CoreLogic, a technology provider for real estate websites, in a class action suit regarding the removal of copyright management metadata from photographs originally taken by professional photographers for real estate agents and brokers. The team also continues to represent Google and its navigation subsidiary, Waze, in its dispute with PhantomALERT, which claims copyright infringement of user-generated data on speed traps and other camera and safety locations. Daralyn Durie and Joseph Gratz are recommended.

The ‘very good’ team at Fenwick & West LLP is particularly strong in copyright matters regarding new technologies and handles both advisory work and litigation. Highlights included the successful defense of Giganews against claims brought by adult website operator Perfect 10 regarding alleged copyright infringement on the Giganews Usenet service. The team also continues to represent General Motors in a lawsuit brought by the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies seeking royalties for entertainment systems that can store music files on a car’s hard drive. In San Francisco, litigator Andrew Bridges is very experienced in secondary liability disputes, while Jennifer Stanley chairs the non-contentious copyright practice, which advises clients such as Expedia, Airbnb and

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC in New York regularly advises clients in publishing, media, entertainment and advertising and is particularly noted for defending publishers and media companies against damage awards. Highlights included the defense of the educational publisher Scholastic against numerous copyright claims from photographers alleging the company used photographs in excess of license limits and the defense of Vice Media against copyright infringement claims brought by a music photojournalist. Other clients include Aaron Sorkin, Jenn Lee, Phil Johnston, Tom McCarthy and James Gunn. Practice chair Edward Rosenthal and Maura Wogan are recommended for litigation. Richard Heller is noted for his transactional and advisory work for authors.

King & Spalding LLP’s ‘excellent’ team is particularly recommended for matters at the intersection of copyright and new technologies. Highlights included the representation of Pandora Media, Netflix, Google and others in the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the antitrust consent decrees of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Inc (BMI) governing the licensing of public performance rights in musical compositions, and the successful representation of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in a suit against Public.Resource.Org regarding copyright protection for safety standards. Kenneth Steinthal and Joseph Wetzel in San Francisco are recommended.

Morrison & Foerster LLP’s team is best known for contentious copyright matters in the technology sector. Highlights included helping Autodesk to stop ZWCad Software from selling a cloned version of the client’s AutoCAD software and acting for VMware in a software copyright and breach of license dispute with Phoenix Technologies. The team also successfully represented the internet service providers Verizon Communications, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks in a dispute with AF Holdings regarding the downloading of copyrighted adult material by their customers; a matter in which disciplinary state bar proceedings are underway against the opposing party’s lead counsel. Michael Jacobs in San Francisco and Benjamin Fox in Los Angeles are recommended.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s team is very experienced in copyright matters in the motion picture and music industries. Key client Warner Bros is represented in several matters, including the successful defense against Ryan Brooks, who claimed the movie Trouble with the Curve infringed his screenplay Omaha, and in a dispute with the Estate of JRR Tolkien and HarperCollins regarding merchandising rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The team also continues to represent Sirius XM in several disputes with major record companies involving infringement claims relating to pre-1972 sound recordings. Matthew Kline in Los Angeles and David Eberhart in San Francisco are recommended.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s team has ‘excellent expertise’ in issues concerning copyrightability and fair use and is particularly strong in high-profile copyright disputes in the technology sector. It successfully defended Dish Network in its prominent dispute with several TV broadcasters and thereby preserved the client’s ad-skipping digital video recording service. The practice also counsels several clients on moving similar recording services into the cloud. Other highlights included acting for Oracle as plaintiff in a long-running dispute with Google regarding its use of parts of Oracle’s Java software in the defendant’s Android operating system. Annette Hurst and Gabriel Ramsey in San Francisco are recommended, as are New York-based Joshua Rosenkranz and Lisa Simpson.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is especially noted for its litigation expertise in the music industry but also regularly handles copyright matters for clients across the wider media and entertainment sector. Key client ASCAP is being represented in several proceedings and negotiations over royalty rates. The team also represented Harlequin Enterprises Limited 90 in a class action brought by authors who published romance novels from 1990 to 2004 and claimed that they were unfairly compensated for the later e-book editions of their works. Other clients include Huffington Post and the National Music Publishers Association. Jay Cohen and Lynn Bayard in New York are recommended.

Pryor Cashman LLP’s practice is particularly noted for its work in the music industry but also regularly handles matters for motion picture studios. It successfully represented Jay Z, Mike Dean, UMG Recordings and others in appeal proceedings initiated by plaintiff Joel R McDonald, who claimed that the defendants’ song Made in America infringed his song with the same title. The team also represented the National Music Publishers Association in successfully brokering a $30m settlement between Spotify and the client’s constituents over unmatched and unpaid song royalties. Other clients including EMI, Sony, BMG, Lionsgate, and The Weinstein Company. New York-based litigators Donald Zakarin, Frank Scibilia, Tom Ferber and Brad Rose are recommended.

Arent Fox LLP’s team is particularly known for its expertise in the music industry, but it also acts for a variety of clients in the entertainment, technology and fashion industries. Work highlights included the representation of Music Choice in royalty rate proceeding before the CRB, acting for Sirius XM in the DOJ’s investigation of the ASCAP and BMI antitrust consent decrees, and advising HBO on numerous copyright matters. Practice head Paul Fakler in New York and Anthony Lupo in Washington DC are recommended.

Baker & Hostetler LLP’s team has remarkable expertise in the music industry, but also regularly works for clients from the wider media and entertainment industry and the technology sector. Practice head Oren Warshavsky in New York successfully represented Freeplay Music in disputes with several multi-channel networks, while Dennis Loomis in Los Angeles has been engaged by ReDigi to handle its appeal to the Second Circuit challenging a summary judgment of copyright infringement in its dispute with Capitol Records.

Davis & Gilbert LLP’s team in New York has remarkable industry expertise in the advertising and marketing sector, where it regularly advises clients on copyrightability, licensing and protection of materials, as well as license-free fair use. The ‘detail-oriented, smart and responsiveAshima Dayal is particularly recommended for such advisory work, while Guy Cohen and Marc Rachman are recommended for litigation. Highlights included the representation of the heirs of the comedy duo ‘Bud’ Abbott and Lou Costello in a copyright dispute with the producers of Broadway play Hand to God.

At Greenberg Traurig LLP, Ian Ballon, who splits his time between the firm’s Los Angeles and Silicon Valley offices, focuses on litigation at the intersection of copyright and technology, including DMCA issues. Robert Rosenbloum in Atlanta regularly handles copyright counseling work for recording artists, record companies and motion picture companies, as well as digital media companies and service providers in the online space. Clients include, Groupon, Jennifer Lopez and Katy Perry.

Hogan Lovells US LLP acts for a variety of arts, media and entertainment clients in copyright matters. It has defended Fox News in two suits filed by North Jersey Media Group regarding claims of copyright infringement based on photos posted on Facebook. Other clients include Bloomberg, Al-Monitor, Anne Frank Stichting and Walt Disney. Dori Ann Hanswirth in New York heads the practice.

Newly merged firm Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP brings together two copyright practices, creating a broad offering that covers the registration of works, licensing, enforcement and litigation. New York-based Jonathan Reichman, from the legacy Kenyon & Kenyon firm, has a focus on the entertainment industry and particular experience regarding fictional characters. Jeff Dodd in Houston, formerly of Andrews Kurth, is an expert in the digital space and licensing matters. Recent work includes defending Mattel against copyright infringement allegations regarding the American Girl book series.

Irell & Manella LLP in Los Angeles is noted for its work in the media and entertainment sector. Highlights included defending CBS against ABS Entertainment, which demands royalties for the playing of pre-1972 sound recordings, and representing GDC Technology in a software copyright dispute with Dolby Labs regarding digital theater systems. Robert Schwartz is recommended and of counsel David Nimmer is noted for his longstanding reputation as a thought leader in the copyright space.

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP’s team is recommended for its industry expertise in the media and entertainment sector. Highlights included the defense of Cumulus Media in a copyright infringement suit brought by ABS Entertainment regarding pre-1972 music royalties. The team also defends Centric Group against copyright infringement claims by United Music Group regarding mix tapes in care packages for the incarcerated. Other clients include HBO, NBCUniversal and Universal Studios. David Halberstadter and Joel Weiner in Los Angeles are recommended along with Chicago-based Floyd Mandell.

Mayer Brown’s team has particular expertise in digital media copyright and regularly represents digital distribution companies in disputes with content owners, particularly from the music industry. Recent highlights include the defense of Spotify against two class actions by music composers claiming copyright infringement, and the representation of Google in a class action in which plaintiff Norman Blagman claimed that Google and other defendants failed to ensure that the music they make available for download is properly licensed. Practice head John Mancini in New York is recommended.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s team is particularly noted for its expertise in digital media and software copyright. Recent work includes successfully defending Amazon against copyright infringement allegations regarding CreateSpace, an Amazon subsidiary that allows authors to self-publish and distribute their works, and the successful representation of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) in a suit against Public.Resource.Org regarding copyright protection for safety standards. J Kevin Fee in Washington DC is recommended.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP’s practice is noted for its expertise in the entertainment industry and regularly handles copyright matters for a variety of clients. Highlights included the successful representation of the hip-hop group the Beastie Boys in a copyright infringement suit against Monster regarding the unauthorized use of its music in a promotional video, and defending Televisa against copyright infringement claims by Codigo Music. Paul Garrity in New York is a name to note and Los Angeles-based Seong Kim strengthened the practice with his arrival from Steptoe & Johnson LLP.

Wiley Rein LLP’s team in Washington DC has expertise in music licensing and online infringement matters. It has represented the National Association of Broadcasters in proceedings before the CRB to establish license fees for the online streaming of sound recordings, and it advised numerous online service providers on questions of secondary liability. Other clients include the United States Telecom Association and CenturyLink. Thomas Kirby is recommended.

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