This is big: In a potentially highly damaging day for the US content industries, the New York District Court has ruled that digital music 'cloud' lockers don't need licences from record labels to store recorded music and that the operators of digital locker services are protected by the ‘safe harbour’ provisions of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, something that will bring cheer to both Amazon and Google who launched their cloud storage services without licences from record labels or music publishers. Read more over at the 1709 Blog.


We have a new website…

Welcome to the new and improved! Special thanks to Scott Stephanoff and Roberto Ty at Futuramic Media and Dave Silcox at Blochead Creative.


Safford & Baker PLLC is highlighted in Metromode this week in this article: Attorneys Ralph Safford and Donald Baker had hit the top of their profession in the late 1990s, making partner in prominent local law firms and aspiring to serve Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial economy. Problem was, their firms didn't share that sentiment; accordingly the pair decided to break out and start Safford & Baker, a law firm geared towards entrepreneurs. The Bloomfield Hills-based practice got its start in 2000 and has since grown to four employees. It serves start-ups and entrepreneurs almost exclusively, representing and consulting with dozens of them across southeast Michigan. The firm has been able to carve a niche by molding its practice to suit client needs. Safford & Baker accommodates by keeping overhead low and offering reasonable quotes. It offers flat fees so new companies will be certain on costs. Plus, the three lawyers love the positive aspects of the practice and can avoid the drudgery of bankruptcy law or litigation.


On Saturday, April 3, 2010, the Arts, Communications, Entertainment & Sports (“ACES”) Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan is co-hosting with the Right to Write Fund, in association with the Stanford Fair Use Project and Grand Valley State University, a lecture on copyright law basics for creative artists followed by a panel discussion on the recent fair use case Rowling v. RDR Books. Lee VanOrsdel, Dean of University Libraries, will be providing introductory remarks.  The copyright lecture will be lead by Grand Rapids copyright lawyer Jeff Nelson of Warner Norcross.  I'm moderating the panel discussion and will be joined by Roger Rapoport, owner of RDR Books, and Julie Ahrens, Associate Director of the Stanford Fair Use Project.  The program will run from approximately 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the DeVos Center, 401 West Fulton, Lecture Hall 136 E, Grand Rapids, MI 49504. The seminar will provide information and materials for Michigan creative artists and lawyers on important issues of copyright law, fair use, and the First Amendment.  The cost of the event will be $30 per participant ($20 for students), which includes a lunch.  A reception will follow the conference and sponsored by the Right to Write Fund and ACES. About Rowling v. RDR Books.  Muskegon publisher Roger Rapoport, owner of RDR Books, and writer Steve Vander Ark, founder of “The Harry Potter Lexicon” fansite, became embroiled in a copyright battle with J.K. Rowling, author of the hugely popular Harry Potter books, and Warner Bros., producers of the hit ...


Safford & Baker Joins Tech Brewery

This notice is a little late in coming (and didn't make it into our Year in Review post last week) but, let it be known, that Safford & Baker has taken a desk at the Tech Brewery in Ann Arbor (1327 Jones Dr.). What is the Tech Brewery exactly?  It's a self-described "community of technologists, entrepreneurs, and startups."  It started as a small group of individuals but eventually desks got pushed together, companies formed, and the place now boasts eighteen full or part-time tenants.  A complete list can be found on the website and includes startup guru/serial entrepreneur Dug Song's newest venture Scio Security, Inc. -- which also happens to be one of S&B's newest clients. I work from the Brewery on most Fridays, generally from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  If you have a startup company, or just a business idea and a dream, please make an appointment with me for a free consultation. You can either email me or just make an appointment on my page here.  I'll next be in Brewery on February 26th. If you're interested in visiting the Brewery, feel free to drop by on Fridays for Beer :30.  Festivities begin at 4:30 p.m.  BYOB.


Copyright Law for Musicians and Composers

On Wednesday, August 12, 2009, I'll be presenting a copyright law lecture for musician and composers through VSA Arts of Michigan at the Russell St. Bazaar in Detroit (7500 Chrysler, Detroit, MI 48211) from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.  The lecture will cover copyright law basics with a focus on protecting and exploiting musical works.  The fee is $10 (scholarships are available for artists with disabilities).  A more detailed description of the program can be found here.  For more information about this program contact the VSAMI office at 313-832-3303 or email at


Discussion on Public Performance Rights Bill

U.S. copyright law does not recognize a public performance right for sound recordings.  When you hear a record over terrestrial (AM/FM) radio, the broadcaster only pays performance royalties to the composer of the musical composition, while no performance royalties are paid to the owner of the sound recording.  Why?  Well, for long and complicated reasons but, essentially, because congress wanted to reward the poor composer hunched over his piano but decided that radio play was free record promotion for the owner of the sound recording -- and, hence, no need for additional payment since they were making their money through record sales.  The United States has lagged behind the rest of the world, which predominantly recognizes this right. The musicFIRST coalition describes itself as "a partnership of artists and organizations in the music community who support compensating performers for their work when it's played over the air."  As such, the coalition is dedicated to securing a public performance right for sound recordings. TODAY, musicFIRST is inviting recording artists, performers and music industry professionals, to join Congressman John Conyers and Sam Moore, former Motown Artists Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, and Duke Fakir and others for Awareness for Fairness: A Discussion about the Performance Rights Act, H.R. 848, Tuesday, June 2, 2009, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., Wayne State University, 471 W. Palmer, Detroit, MI  48202. For more information about musicFIRST please visit:


Mackinac Policy Conference

I will be attending the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual Mackinac Policy Conference this week.  Despite the fact that the economy is ensuring that this year's event will be a little bit lighter on attendees, the event's agenda is as robust as ever.  As time allows, I will try to post on all of the legal, tech, and startup-related happenings.


Remixing the Rules

This YouTube video is making its way through the blogosphere.  It is a very impressive mash-up of homemade music clips, each of which the author carefully credits.  This video is a terrific illustration of the mash-up art movement -- a movement that is frequently at odds with our current copyright policy. If you are interested in this topic, myself and others will be addressed it as part of the "Remixing the Rules" panel discussion taking place on Thursday, March 26, 2009, from 1 - 2:30 p.m. at the WORK Gallery in Ann Arbor.


I'm giving a presentation on copyright law basics for VSA Arts of Michigan next Thursday, February 12, 2009.  Here's a brief description of the lecture from the VSA website: In today's world with the web and mass production, artists can advance their careers like never before. But these very tools that can be great assets to the artist can actually cause problems. Copyright is an issue that today's artists need not only to be aware of but also need to understand. VSA Arts of Michigan is pleased to present this needed topic to advance the careers and abilities of artists. The presentation will focus on an overview of basic copyright issues and then go into the specifics for musicians, visual artists, and writers. This workshop will make you aware of current rights you have and how to protect your work. As an artist in the 21st century you need an understanding of copyright issues, so this presentation cannot be missed. More information can be found on the VSA website.  I hope to see you there.