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Blog & News

August 15, 2013

Move Music Festival

Filed under: Entertainment Law, General — Paul Czech & Associates @ 3:31 pm

Mr. Czech was a panelist at Move Musical Festival on April 27, 2013 in Albany, NY.

“The MOVE Music Festival is an ILMG and Avid Entertainment production. The festival will consist of approximately 100 acts performing at venues across Albany, New York on April 26-27, 2013. The main purpose of this event is to give exposure to regional talent through live performances at select venues and provide musicians with insight on how to conduct their careers in today’s independent music scene.”

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March 18, 2010

Intellectual Property Symposium

Filed under: Copyrights, Entertainment Law, General, News — Paul Czech & Associates @ 3:41 pm

Paul Czech recently sat as a panelist for a Symposium discussion on Intellectual Property hosted by the Albany Law School Intellectual Propery Society.  The topic for discussion was the Music Industry, Now and Into the Future.

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Paul Czech featured IP Speaker

Filed under: Copyrights, Entertainment Law, News — Paul Czech & Associates @ 3:38 pm

Paul Czech was recently a guest lecturer at Albany Law School.  He was invited by Professor A. Kahler to speak to her Intellectual Property class.  Paul educated the class on copyright and copyright infringment cases from a practitioner’s perspective utilizing the Harrisongs cases and its progeny to highlight the discussions.

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September 7, 2009

Ask the Attorney-September 2009

Filed under: Columns from Our Towne Magazine, Entertainment Law — Paul Czech & Associates @ 3:59 pm

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here before, but, aside from my usual work in my law firm, writing this column, and my various speaking and teaching engagements, I also host a radio show.  The show is called “Crumb’s Nite Out” and my co-host, Paul Rapp and I, tape the show each month at WAMC’s performance space and recording studio known as “The Linda” on Central Avenue in downtown Albany.  Paul and I (affectionately known as “the 2 Pauls”) invite guests in to have a roundtable discussion on various music industry related topics such as copyrights, licensing, recording agreements, etc.  We tape before a live audience so we allow questions and during last month’s taping there was an interesting one.  Our panel’s topic was “gigging” or, for the layperson, performing in clubs, and the question, presented by a young musician, was, “should I ask a club owner for a contract when I perform in their club?”.

Now that’s a pretty straight forward question that got a very straight forward answer but it made me think about how most people view contracts. Like our musician for example – when he goes off and “gigs” at a bar or club, he usually makes the arrangements directly with the owner.  If the musician can command pay, it’s usually very small, somewhere in the $50 to $150 range for the show.  He’s told when to show up and get onstage and told that he’ll be paid when he’s done.  Sometimes he gets paid and sometimes doesn’t.  If he had gotten a written contract for the show beforehand, would that be something that could be used to force the club owner to hand over the money?

The answer, of course, is no.  And that’s because the club owner not only knows the value of the document he signed but he also knows how much it will cost to enforce it.  For example, let’s say the contract guaranteed our musician $150 after he completes the performance.  When he doesn’t get paid, he’s going to find a lawyer to take his case for him.  Lawyers don’t work for free (and they shouldn’t) and our musician is likely going to have to pay a consultation fee to talk with his potential representative.  The case will have to be brought to small claims court and tried before one of the many Town Justices in the area.  Lawyers will charge fees of anywhere from $500 on up for such services depending on how seasoned an attorney they are.  The fee could potentially be as high as $1500 for the musicians day in court.  So far it looks like our musician friend is paying a lot of money for legal services with no guarantee that he will prevail in court which means that there is no guarantee that he will recoup any monies whatsoever.

I refer to situations like this as legal “grey areas”.  Legally, a contract like this is binding and valid.  The problem is, the contract guarantees such a small amount that it’s not worth anyone’s while to take legal action.  And, as far as the Courts are concerned, that’s a good thing.  Courts across the country are filled with litigants trying cases every day that involve matters that have a significant enough dollar value.    Can you imagine what kind of backlog there would be in the Courts if cases worth $50, $75, $100 were being tried on a regular basis?  Such actions would do nothing but paralyze an already slow moving judicial system.  And are you willing to designate your tax dollars to pay for the court staff required to adjudicate all of these cases?  I didn’t think so.

So, the truth is, the law doesn’t really have an answer for our troubled musician.  So the best thing that can be done is for our musician to develop some business savvy when dealing with club owners or anyone else for that matter.  No document in the world could ever replace common sense and street smarts.  If it stinks, it’s probably bad and, contract or no contract, there’s not a lot you can do to change it.

-Paul Czech,Esq.

September Edition of Rensselaer ‘Our Towne’ magazine

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