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Kenneth Steinthal specializes in litigating matters in the intellectual property/media sector. Ken has been recognized for his leadership and expertise, including by National Law Journal as one of its 2016 IP Trailblazers, by Law360 as one of five 2015 Media & Entertainment MVPs, and on a consistent annual basis (including in 2021) by multiple legal publications including each of Legal 500, Chambers USA and the Daily Journal’s listing of Top Intellectual Property Lawyers.

Ken has four decades of experience litigating matters spanning the IP/media sector, in jury and bench trial settings and before copyright tribunals in the U.S. and internationally. Ken’s practice is focused on copyright, DMCA and antitrust/rate-setting cases involving the distribution of audio and audiovisual content. His litigation matters typically involve the defense of copyright infringement claims, the application of DMCA safe harbors and the establishment of structures and rates for the exploitation of copyrighted works in both traditional (e.g., cable, satellite, broadcast) and new media distribution environments. In just the last few years, Ken has led teams on behalf of Google, Peloton, the Radio Music License Committee (representing the interests of the U.S. broadcast radio industry), NPR/PBS, Amazon, The Orchard, ESPN and Pandora before different courts and tribunals (including the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board) in defense of copyright infringement claims and establishing rate structures governing his clients' exploitation of music licensed by publishers and labels (and their representative organizations).

In a constantly evolving media distribution environment, Ken and his team also regularly counsel clients regarding the licensing implications and risks associated with their existing or contemplated product offerings spanning both traditional and new media. He also has assumed an industry-leading role on behalf of the content distribution community (including Netflix, Viacom, ESPN, AMC Networks, Fox Cable Network Services iHeartMedia, Google/YouTube and many others) in connection with the Department of Justice’s periodic investigations of the ASCAP and BMI antitrust consent decrees governing the licensing of public performance rights in musical compositions.

Full Bio

Credentials

J.D., Fordham University, cum laude

B.A., Williams College, cum laude

California

New York

Supreme Court of the United States

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

IP Trailblazers


National Law Journal, 2016

One of Five Media & Entertainment MVPs


Law360, 2015

Top 10 Copyright Lawyers


The Daily Journal

Leading IP Attorneys: California


The Daily Journal (multiple years through 2021)

Leading Lawyer: IP/Media & Entertainment


Chambers USA and Chambers Global (multiple years through 2021)

Legal 500 USA


multiple years through 2021

Northern California Super Lawyer


Super Lawyers (multiple years through 2021)

Law Dragon

Power Lawyers: Top 100 Outside Counsel


Hollywood Reporter

Outstanding Antitrust Litigation Achievement in Private Law Practice: Finalist


AAI, 2014

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Recognition

IP Trailblazers


National Law Journal, 2016

One of Five Media & Entertainment MVPs


Law360, 2015

Top 10 Copyright Lawyers


The Daily Journal

Leading IP Attorneys: California


The Daily Journal (multiple years through 2021)

Leading Lawyer: IP/Media & Entertainment


Chambers USA and Chambers Global (multiple years through 2021)

Legal 500 USA


multiple years through 2021

Northern California Super Lawyer


Super Lawyers (multiple years through 2021)

Law Dragon

Power Lawyers: Top 100 Outside Counsel


Hollywood Reporter

Outstanding Antitrust Litigation Achievement in Private Law Practice: Finalist


AAI, 2014

Matters

Representative Copyright Litigations/Matters

In re Determination of Rates and Terms for Digital Performance of Sound Recordings … (known as the Web V proceedings). Ken leads the representation of Google in these Copyright Royalty Board proceedings against the labels/recording industry to determine statutory royalty rates for digital performances of sound recordings made by non-interactive music streaming services under sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act (for the statutory license term 1/1/21-12/31/25). A five-week virtual Zoom trial was held in August - September 2020 (which was one of the first virtual trials of that magnitude conducted during the global pandemic), and ultimately led to a 300-page decision issued in June 2021 largely rejecting the labels’ positions and adopting much of Google’s arguments to minimize any rate increases. The labels have appealed the decision, which appeal is ongoing.

In re Determination of Rates and Terms for Making and Distributing Phonorecords. Ken leads the representation of Google in the Phonorecords III Copyright Royalty Board proceedings against the music publishing industry that will determine the statutory license rates and terms for the five-year period 2018–2022; the case involves "mechanical" reproduction licenses associated with the distribution of interactive/on-demand streaming services and cloud locker services under section 115 of the Copyright Act. The case is currently on remand to the CRB after the D.C. Circuit’s rejection of the publishers’ core appeal positions while granting the services’ request to vacate and remand for further proceedings certain aspects of the rate structure adopted by the CRB in its Initial Determination after trial. Johnson v. Copyright Royalty Board, 969 F.3d 363 (D.C. Cir. 2020). This follows the CRB’s initial trial determination agreeing with Google (and other services) in rejecting the core position of the publishers who sought to establish a per-play royalty rate.

Defense of Amazon Copyright Infringement Actions. Ken led Amazon’s defense in a series of five copyright infringement suits brought in the Southern District of New York and Western District of Washington claiming that Amazon sold digital downloads of tracks through its online music store that contained musical compositions that had not been properly licensed. In particular, the suits sought damages for infringement on behalf of songwriters whose works were recorded by jazz and popular artists such as Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. The cases challenged various historical music clearance practices employed by digital music distributors and could have had impact well beyond the immediate parties to the lawsuit. Ken’s team was successful in securing multiple decisions rendered in 2020 and in January 2021 dismissing claims asserted by plaintiffs in four of these cases based on asserted causes of action for “making available” plaintiffs’ copyrighted works; the lawsuits were settled on favorable terms soon thereafter.

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Matters

Representative Copyright Litigations/Matters

In re Determination of Rates and Terms for Digital Performance of Sound Recordings … (known as the Web V proceedings). Ken leads the representation of Google in these Copyright Royalty Board proceedings against the labels/recording industry to determine statutory royalty rates for digital performances of sound recordings made by non-interactive music streaming services under sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act (for the statutory license term 1/1/21-12/31/25). A five-week virtual Zoom trial was held in August - September 2020 (which was one of the first virtual trials of that magnitude conducted during the global pandemic), and ultimately led to a 300-page decision issued in June 2021 largely rejecting the labels’ positions and adopting much of Google’s arguments to minimize any rate increases. The labels have appealed the decision, which appeal is ongoing.

In re Determination of Rates and Terms for Making and Distributing Phonorecords. Ken leads the representation of Google in the Phonorecords III Copyright Royalty Board proceedings against the music publishing industry that will determine the statutory license rates and terms for the five-year period 2018–2022; the case involves "mechanical" reproduction licenses associated with the distribution of interactive/on-demand streaming services and cloud locker services under section 115 of the Copyright Act. The case is currently on remand to the CRB after the D.C. Circuit’s rejection of the publishers’ core appeal positions while granting the services’ request to vacate and remand for further proceedings certain aspects of the rate structure adopted by the CRB in its Initial Determination after trial. Johnson v. Copyright Royalty Board, 969 F.3d 363 (D.C. Cir. 2020). This follows the CRB’s initial trial determination agreeing with Google (and other services) in rejecting the core position of the publishers who sought to establish a per-play royalty rate.

Defense of Amazon Copyright Infringement Actions. Ken led Amazon’s defense in a series of five copyright infringement suits brought in the Southern District of New York and Western District of Washington claiming that Amazon sold digital downloads of tracks through its online music store that contained musical compositions that had not been properly licensed. In particular, the suits sought damages for infringement on behalf of songwriters whose works were recorded by jazz and popular artists such as Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. The cases challenged various historical music clearance practices employed by digital music distributors and could have had impact well beyond the immediate parties to the lawsuit. Ken’s team was successful in securing multiple decisions rendered in 2020 and in January 2021 dismissing claims asserted by plaintiffs in four of these cases based on asserted causes of action for “making available” plaintiffs’ copyrighted works; the lawsuits were settled on favorable terms soon thereafter.

Four Jays Music Company, et al. v. Apple Inc., et al. Ken led the defense of The Orchard (a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment) in this copyright infringement suit in the Southern District of New York claiming that The Orchard distributed digital recordings to stores for sale (through digital service providers such as Apple and Google) where the “mechanical” reproduction rights associated with the musical compositions embodied in those recordings were not properly licensed. The suit sought damages for infringement on behalf of Harry Warren, whose works were recorded by jazz and popular artists such as Billie Holliday, Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis. The case challenged various historical music clearance practices employed by digital music distributors and was related to the Amazon litigations noted above. The case was settled on favorable terms in early 2021.

In re Determination of Rates and Terms for Performance or Display of Nondramatic Musical Works ... By Public Broadcasting Entities (known as “PB IV”).  Ken is lead counsel for Corporation for Public BroadcastingNPR and PBS in this Copyright Royalty Board proceeding against the music publishing industry that will determine the statutory license rates and terms (for the five-year period 2023-2027) for public broadcaster uses of musical works under Section 118 of the Copyright Act. Notices of Settlement with 3 of the 5 copyright owner representatives have been filed; if settlements cannot be reached with all the copyright owner participants, trial will be held in 2022. Ken also led the representation of CPB, NPR and PBS in the prior PB III proceedings resulting in favorable statutory rates for the public broadcasters during the five-year term 2018-2022.

DOJ Investigation of ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees. Ken led the representation of a consortium of audiovisual content distributors (including Netflix, Viacom/Showtime Networks, HBO/Turner Broadcasting,  AMC Networks, Discovery Communications, ESPN, Fox Cable Network Services and several other entities) engaged in the distribution of audio-visual content in connection with preparing and advancing comments responsive to the US Department of Justice investigation regarding whether the existing antitrust consent decrees regulating the conduct of music performing rights collectives Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) should be modified and/or terminated. In January 2021 the DOJ adopted the position advocated by Ken’s clients’ determining that there was no basis to modify or terminate the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. Ken’s client group had secured a similar result under the prior Administration in 2016 on behalf of a similar consortium.

Downtown Music Publishing, LLC v. Peloton Interactive, Inc. Ken led the defense of Peloton in a high-profile copyright infringement litigation brought by independent music publishers in the Southern District of New York in which the publishers sued Peloton on the eve of Peloton’s IPO seeking over $300 million based on claims that Peloton willfully infringed over 21,000 musical works.  Peloton in response impleaded third-party National Music Publishers’ Association (“NMPA”) and filed counterclaims asserting both antitrust law violations and tortious interference with business relations counterclaims.  The case was settled on favorable terms in early 2020.

SESAC v. Radio Music License Committee (“RMLC”). Ken was lead counsel for the RMLC, the representative body of the broadcast radio industry, in this first-ever arbitration proceeding to determine reasonable industry-wide rates and terms (during the three-year term 2016–2018) for some 7,000 radio stations' broadcasts and simulcasts of the musical works controlled by performing rights organization SESAC. The arbitration took place in 2017 and resulted in a favorable outcome for RMLC, reducing pre-existing SESAC fee levels by more than 50%.

ESPN v. BMI. Ken was lead counsel for ESPN in this litigation against performing rights organization Broadcast Music, Inc. under the BMI antitrust consent decree. ESPN directly licenses from writers and publishers the vast majority of the music it performs; and it sought a determination of reasonable license fees from BMI for the music in commercials or ambient music overheard in stadiums and arenas during sports telecasts, which ESPN is not in a position to directly license. This case would have been the first to challenge BMI’s off-the-shelf license structure and rates for audiovisual programming based on evidence of competitive direct licensing transactions and also involved the issue of whether performances of ambient music captured in connection with live sports broadcasts are fair use. The case was settled shortly before trial in 2017.

Pandora Media, Inc. v. ASCAP. Ken was lead counsel in this federal court trial and appeal on Pandora’s behalf culminating in the Second Circuit’s 2015 affirmance of rulings (i) upholding Pandora’s challenge to the efforts of major ASCAP publisher members to “partially” withdraw from ASCAP in an effort to avoid rate oversight by the court overseeing the ASCAP antitrust consent decree, and (ii) establishing rates consistent with Pandora’s position.

U.S. v. ASCAP, Application of MobiTV, Inc. Ken led the federal court trial before the judge supervising the ASCAP antitrust consent decree and ensuing successful Second Circuit appeal resulting in adoption of client MobiTV’s proposal, establishing favorable rates and terms for mobile distribution of TV/radio content (and rejecting ASCAP’s position that mobile/online content distribution entities should be subject to a far more onerous royalty structure than exists for entities distributing content via traditional media vehicles).

U.S. v. ASCAP, Application of RealNetworks Inc. and Yahoo!, Inc. Ken led the trial and argued the appeal on behalf of Real Networks and Yahoo! leading to this landmark Second Circuit decision in September 2010 (and denial of certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012) holding that transmissions of music downloads do not trigger public performance rights liabilities for entities engaged in content distribution (and rejecting the position of ASCAP and other copyright organizations to the contrary).

Arista Records, et al. v. Launch Media. Ken co-defended Yahoo! Music (f/k/a Launch Media) in a billion-dollar copyright infringement action brought by various record labels in the SDNY challenging the eligibility of Yahoo!'s Internet radio service for the statutory license under section 114 of the Copyright Act; Yahoo! secured a jury verdict in its favor (later affirmed by the Second Circuit).

“Napster II” (UMG Recordings, et al. v. Bertelsmann AG, et al). Ken led the defense of Bertelsmann against a series of music label and publisher copyright infringement claims brought in the SDNY and NDCA (asserting liability in excess of $20 billion) based on alleged direct, contributory and vicarious liability of Bertelsmann arising from its investments in and relationship with the original Napster file-sharing service; rulings on motions led to favorable settlements shortly before trial.

EMI Music v. Multiply Inc. Ken represented this social network service in a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement of works in EMI’s label and publisher catalogues asserting Multiply did not qualify for the DMCA safe harbor; representation enabled settlement shortly after lawsuit was ?led.

Sony/ATV Songs LLC, et al. v. MusicNet, Inc. Ken led the defense of MusicNet, an early pioneer in the digital on-demand music service industry, against copyright infringement claims based on the alleged failure of the service to secure musical work reproduction rights licenses; representation enabled settlement not long after suit was filed.

Coleman, et al. v. ESPN. Ken led the defense of ESPN against claims of ASCAP members asserting copyright infringement based on ESPN’s alleged unlicensed public performance of musical works audible in the background of ESPN’s broadcasts of sports programming and challenging ESPN’s assertion of the “fair use” defense to such uses.  The case was settled on favorable terms on the eve of trial after successfully defeating publishers’ summary judgment motion relating to the fair use defense.

Angel Music, Inc. et al v. ABC Sports, et al. Ken led the defense of the local television industry in this putative dual plaintiff/defendant class action copyright infringement lawsuit claiming that the ABC Television Network had infringed the publishers’ rights by failing to secure synchronization licenses for so-called “one time uses” of compositions that were used as background for Olympics sports “bio-pic” segments; successfully achieved dismissal of action.

Other “Rate Court” Proceedings against ASCAP and BMI. Ken is and/or has been lead trial counsel for numerous other ASCAP/BMI licensees engaged both in traditional and new media forms of content distribution; over the years, he has managed or co-managed the negotiations and, where necessary, trial teams in consent decree proceedings against ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and GMR on behalf of more than forty cable/satellite/broadcast/new media content distribution services and providers.

Antitrust litigation against ASCAP and BMI. Ken was deeply involved in the seminal antitrust cases brought by the local television industry in the early 1980s (Buffalo Broadcasting Co., et al. v. ASCAP, et al.) and the cable TV industry in the early 1990s (NCTA, et al. v. BMI, et al.), against both ASCAP and BMI, which set the framework for the consent decree litigations that have followed.

International Copyright Tribunal Matters. Ken has been granted “rights of audience” in the Copyright Tribunals of the UK and Hong Kong to litigate matters pertaining to the proper structure and rates for musical work public performances (and, in some cases, reproductions), on behalf of both new media/online distributors of content and traditional cable/satellite television distributors. For example, he was lead trial counsel in the precedent-setting UK Copyright Tribunal litigation on behalf of a consortium of music service providers (including AOL, Yahoo!, Apple, Napster LLC, RealNetworks and MusicNet) against the UK collective MCPS/PRS. Prior to that, he represented a consortium of cable and satellite providers in proceedings before the Hong Kong Copyright Tribunal against the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong (CASH), which resulted in a favorable industry-wide settlement on the eve of trial.

Representative Other Media/Entertainment/Sports Litigation

iJaal.com, Inc., et al. v. baazee.com, Inc., et al. Ken was lead trial counsel in this SDNY jury trial defending baazee.com (the “eBay of India,” in which News Corp’s Star TV was the primary outside investor before acquisition by eBay after trial) and its principals against claims of breach of oral contract, misappropriation of partnership opportunity, misappropriation of trade secrets and related claims; won complete defense verdict.

Persky-Bright Organization, et al. v. Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc., et al. Ken was lead trial counsel in defense of two $300 million actions brought in SDNY and CDCA, in which the plaintiff motion picture investment groups alleged a series of violations by Columbia Pictures of motion picture distribution agreements, together with RICO, fraud, antitrust/block booking and tax indemnity claims. The case spanned several years and included a mini-trial of non-jury issues that resulted in the substantial curtailment of issues to proceed before a jury, leading to a favorable settlement thereafter.

Robehr Films, Inc. v. American Airlines, Inc. Ken was lead trial counsel in this SDNY jury action brought by an in-flight film supplier alleging fraud and breach of contract by American Airlines. Plaintiff claimed American’s conduct had forced it out of business. A three-week jury trial resulted in a no-liability defendant’s verdict, which was affirmed on appeal to the Second Circuit.

European American Bank v. Film Finances, Inc., et al. Ken was lead counsel in defending this action brought by EAB under film loan agreements and a completion bond against clients Film Finances and production/distribution entities. After preliminary pre-trial proceedings and motion practice, the case was settled on a zero-liability basis.

North American Soccer League (NASL) v. National Football League. Ken assisted in representing the NASL in this antitrust trial in the SDNY in which the NASL successfully challenged the NFL’s “cross ownership” ban, which would have prevented “cross-owners” such as Lamar Hunt and Joe Robbie from maintaining their investments in the NASL.

New York Islanders Hockey Club LP v. SMG, et al. Ken was lead trial counsel for the N.Y. Islanders hockey team in federal and state court litigations against SMG and Nassau County seeking to terminate lease arrangements at the Nassau Coliseum on novel constructive eviction theories. After preliminary injunction trial proceedings and a series of appeals, the case settled on a favorable basis.

Representative Other Engagements

David Wilson et al. v. Airborne, Inc. Ken was lead counsel in representation of the Airborne defendants in this consumer class action (removed to Central District of CA under CAFA) alleging, inter alia, false advertising and violations of California consumer protection laws; led to a favorable class settlement.

In re CA Title Insurance Litigation. Ken was lead trial counsel for a national title insurance company in this putative class action alleging violations of CA UCL §17200; oversaw successful motion practice leading to dismissal and 2012 order compelling individual claim arbitration.

NNN Britannia Business Center, et al v. Grubb & Ellis Co., et al. Ken was lead trial counsel for defendants in these CA state court actions alleging violations of CA UCL §17200, fraud, etc., associated with the syndication of certain commercial real estate investments; successful motion practice resulted in substantial curtailment of claims at issue.

Risko v. First Aviation Services, Inc., et al. Ken was lead trial counsel in this jury trial in Oakland, CA Superior Court alleging fraud and breach of contract against First Aviation and its principals. The case was brought by a former First Aviation principal alleging, among other things, entitlements under an oral agreement, and threatened the continued viability of the client group. A two-week jury trial resulted in a no-liability defendants’ verdict.

PIA v. UBS Securities, Inc. Ken was lead trial counsel in defending lender liability, fraud and breach of contract claims brought in New York State Supreme Court by the owners of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City against UBS, stemming from UBS’ termination of an agreement to finance the renovation of the hotel. A three-week bench trial resulted in a no-liability defendant’s verdict. Appellate proceedings in the New York Appellate Division and Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court rulings in defendant’s favor.

Overnight Partners, et al. v. Ritz Carlton Hotel Co. Ken was lead counsel in defense of this $300 million “kitchen sink” action brought in the SDNY by the owners of the Ritz Carlton hotel properties located in New York, Washington D.C., Houston and Aspen CO, against client Ritz Carlton. The case involved fraud, breach of contract, RICO, trademark and other claims brought by the Saudi group owners of those properties. After protracted pre-trial proceedings, the case settled on a favorable basis, whereby plaintiffs were stripped of their right to operate Ritz Carlton hotels.

In re Hylsa, S.A. v. M.W. Kellogg Co. Ken was lead trial counsel for Grupo Industrial Alfa’s steel company, Hylsa, SA, in ICC arbitration involving hundreds of millions of dollars in claims and technology issues relating to construction of “HYL Process” steel plants for SIDOR in Venezuela. After a series of ICC hearings, case was settled on a zero-liability basis to Hylsa.

Matters

Representative Copyright Litigations/Matters

In re Determination of Rates and Terms for Digital Performance of Sound Recordings … (known as the Web V proceedings). Ken leads the representation of Google in these Copyright Royalty Board proceedings against the labels/recording industry to determine statutory royalty rates for digital performances of sound recordings made by non-interactive music streaming services under sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act (for the statutory license term 1/1/21-12/31/25). A five-week virtual Zoom trial was held in August - September 2020 (which was one of the first virtual trials of that magnitude conducted during the global pandemic), and ultimately led to a 300-page decision issued in June 2021 largely rejecting the labels’ positions and adopting much of Google’s arguments to minimize any rate increases. The labels have appealed the decision, which appeal is ongoing.

In re Determination of Rates and Terms for Making and Distributing Phonorecords. Ken leads the representation of Google in the Phonorecords III Copyright Royalty Board proceedings against the music publishing industry that will determine the statutory license rates and terms for the five-year period 2018–2022; the case involves "mechanical" reproduction licenses associated with the distribution of interactive/on-demand streaming services and cloud locker services under section 115 of the Copyright Act. The case is currently on remand to the CRB after the D.C. Circuit’s rejection of the publishers’ core appeal positions while granting the services’ request to vacate and remand for further proceedings certain aspects of the rate structure adopted by the CRB in its Initial Determination after trial. Johnson v. Copyright Royalty Board, 969 F.3d 363 (D.C. Cir. 2020). This follows the CRB’s initial trial determination agreeing with Google (and other services) in rejecting the core position of the publishers who sought to establish a per-play royalty rate.

Defense of Amazon Copyright Infringement Actions. Ken led Amazon’s defense in a series of five copyright infringement suits brought in the Southern District of New York and Western District of Washington claiming that Amazon sold digital downloads of tracks through its online music store that contained musical compositions that had not been properly licensed. In particular, the suits sought damages for infringement on behalf of songwriters whose works were recorded by jazz and popular artists such as Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. The cases challenged various historical music clearance practices employed by digital music distributors and could have had impact well beyond the immediate parties to the lawsuit. Ken’s team was successful in securing multiple decisions rendered in 2020 and in January 2021 dismissing claims asserted by plaintiffs in four of these cases based on asserted causes of action for “making available” plaintiffs’ copyrighted works; the lawsuits were settled on favorable terms soon thereafter.

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Matters

Representative Copyright Litigations/Matters

In re Determination of Rates and Terms for Digital Performance of Sound Recordings … (known as the Web V proceedings). Ken leads the representation of Google in these Copyright Royalty Board proceedings against the labels/recording industry to determine statutory royalty rates for digital performances of sound recordings made by non-interactive music streaming services under sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act (for the statutory license term 1/1/21-12/31/25). A five-week virtual Zoom trial was held in August - September 2020 (which was one of the first virtual trials of that magnitude conducted during the global pandemic), and ultimately led to a 300-page decision issued in June 2021 largely rejecting the labels’ positions and adopting much of Google’s arguments to minimize any rate increases. The labels have appealed the decision, which appeal is ongoing.

In re Determination of Rates and Terms for Making and Distributing Phonorecords. Ken leads the representation of Google in the Phonorecords III Copyright Royalty Board proceedings against the music publishing industry that will determine the statutory license rates and terms for the five-year period 2018–2022; the case involves "mechanical" reproduction licenses associated with the distribution of interactive/on-demand streaming services and cloud locker services under section 115 of the Copyright Act. The case is currently on remand to the CRB after the D.C. Circuit’s rejection of the publishers’ core appeal positions while granting the services’ request to vacate and remand for further proceedings certain aspects of the rate structure adopted by the CRB in its Initial Determination after trial. Johnson v. Copyright Royalty Board, 969 F.3d 363 (D.C. Cir. 2020). This follows the CRB’s initial trial determination agreeing with Google (and other services) in rejecting the core position of the publishers who sought to establish a per-play royalty rate.

Defense of Amazon Copyright Infringement Actions. Ken led Amazon’s defense in a series of five copyright infringement suits brought in the Southern District of New York and Western District of Washington claiming that Amazon sold digital downloads of tracks through its online music store that contained musical compositions that had not been properly licensed. In particular, the suits sought damages for infringement on behalf of songwriters whose works were recorded by jazz and popular artists such as Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. The cases challenged various historical music clearance practices employed by digital music distributors and could have had impact well beyond the immediate parties to the lawsuit. Ken’s team was successful in securing multiple decisions rendered in 2020 and in January 2021 dismissing claims asserted by plaintiffs in four of these cases based on asserted causes of action for “making available” plaintiffs’ copyrighted works; the lawsuits were settled on favorable terms soon thereafter.

Four Jays Music Company, et al. v. Apple Inc., et al. Ken led the defense of The Orchard (a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment) in this copyright infringement suit in the Southern District of New York claiming that The Orchard distributed digital recordings to stores for sale (through digital service providers such as Apple and Google) where the “mechanical” reproduction rights associated with the musical compositions embodied in those recordings were not properly licensed. The suit sought damages for infringement on behalf of Harry Warren, whose works were recorded by jazz and popular artists such as Billie Holliday, Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis. The case challenged various historical music clearance practices employed by digital music distributors and was related to the Amazon litigations noted above. The case was settled on favorable terms in early 2021.

In re Determination of Rates and Terms for Performance or Display of Nondramatic Musical Works ... By Public Broadcasting Entities (known as “PB IV”).  Ken is lead counsel for Corporation for Public BroadcastingNPR and PBS in this Copyright Royalty Board proceeding against the music publishing industry that will determine the statutory license rates and terms (for the five-year period 2023-2027) for public broadcaster uses of musical works under Section 118 of the Copyright Act. Notices of Settlement with 3 of the 5 copyright owner representatives have been filed; if settlements cannot be reached with all the copyright owner participants, trial will be held in 2022. Ken also led the representation of CPB, NPR and PBS in the prior PB III proceedings resulting in favorable statutory rates for the public broadcasters during the five-year term 2018-2022.

DOJ Investigation of ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees. Ken led the representation of a consortium of audiovisual content distributors (including Netflix, Viacom/Showtime Networks, HBO/Turner Broadcasting,  AMC Networks, Discovery Communications, ESPN, Fox Cable Network Services and several other entities) engaged in the distribution of audio-visual content in connection with preparing and advancing comments responsive to the US Department of Justice investigation regarding whether the existing antitrust consent decrees regulating the conduct of music performing rights collectives Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) should be modified and/or terminated. In January 2021 the DOJ adopted the position advocated by Ken’s clients’ determining that there was no basis to modify or terminate the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. Ken’s client group had secured a similar result under the prior Administration in 2016 on behalf of a similar consortium.

Downtown Music Publishing, LLC v. Peloton Interactive, Inc. Ken led the defense of Peloton in a high-profile copyright infringement litigation brought by independent music publishers in the Southern District of New York in which the publishers sued Peloton on the eve of Peloton’s IPO seeking over $300 million based on claims that Peloton willfully infringed over 21,000 musical works.  Peloton in response impleaded third-party National Music Publishers’ Association (“NMPA”) and filed counterclaims asserting both antitrust law violations and tortious interference with business relations counterclaims.  The case was settled on favorable terms in early 2020.

SESAC v. Radio Music License Committee (“RMLC”). Ken was lead counsel for the RMLC, the representative body of the broadcast radio industry, in this first-ever arbitration proceeding to determine reasonable industry-wide rates and terms (during the three-year term 2016–2018) for some 7,000 radio stations' broadcasts and simulcasts of the musical works controlled by performing rights organization SESAC. The arbitration took place in 2017 and resulted in a favorable outcome for RMLC, reducing pre-existing SESAC fee levels by more than 50%.

ESPN v. BMI. Ken was lead counsel for ESPN in this litigation against performing rights organization Broadcast Music, Inc. under the BMI antitrust consent decree. ESPN directly licenses from writers and publishers the vast majority of the music it performs; and it sought a determination of reasonable license fees from BMI for the music in commercials or ambient music overheard in stadiums and arenas during sports telecasts, which ESPN is not in a position to directly license. This case would have been the first to challenge BMI’s off-the-shelf license structure and rates for audiovisual programming based on evidence of competitive direct licensing transactions and also involved the issue of whether performances of ambient music captured in connection with live sports broadcasts are fair use. The case was settled shortly before trial in 2017.

Pandora Media, Inc. v. ASCAP. Ken was lead counsel in this federal court trial and appeal on Pandora’s behalf culminating in the Second Circuit’s 2015 affirmance of rulings (i) upholding Pandora’s challenge to the efforts of major ASCAP publisher members to “partially” withdraw from ASCAP in an effort to avoid rate oversight by the court overseeing the ASCAP antitrust consent decree, and (ii) establishing rates consistent with Pandora’s position.

U.S. v. ASCAP, Application of MobiTV, Inc. Ken led the federal court trial before the judge supervising the ASCAP antitrust consent decree and ensuing successful Second Circuit appeal resulting in adoption of client MobiTV’s proposal, establishing favorable rates and terms for mobile distribution of TV/radio content (and rejecting ASCAP’s position that mobile/online content distribution entities should be subject to a far more onerous royalty structure than exists for entities distributing content via traditional media vehicles).

U.S. v. ASCAP, Application of RealNetworks Inc. and Yahoo!, Inc. Ken led the trial and argued the appeal on behalf of Real Networks and Yahoo! leading to this landmark Second Circuit decision in September 2010 (and denial of certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012) holding that transmissions of music downloads do not trigger public performance rights liabilities for entities engaged in content distribution (and rejecting the position of ASCAP and other copyright organizations to the contrary).

Arista Records, et al. v. Launch Media. Ken co-defended Yahoo! Music (f/k/a Launch Media) in a billion-dollar copyright infringement action brought by various record labels in the SDNY challenging the eligibility of Yahoo!'s Internet radio service for the statutory license under section 114 of the Copyright Act; Yahoo! secured a jury verdict in its favor (later affirmed by the Second Circuit).

“Napster II” (UMG Recordings, et al. v. Bertelsmann AG, et al). Ken led the defense of Bertelsmann against a series of music label and publisher copyright infringement claims brought in the SDNY and NDCA (asserting liability in excess of $20 billion) based on alleged direct, contributory and vicarious liability of Bertelsmann arising from its investments in and relationship with the original Napster file-sharing service; rulings on motions led to favorable settlements shortly before trial.

EMI Music v. Multiply Inc. Ken represented this social network service in a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement of works in EMI’s label and publisher catalogues asserting Multiply did not qualify for the DMCA safe harbor; representation enabled settlement shortly after lawsuit was ?led.

Sony/ATV Songs LLC, et al. v. MusicNet, Inc. Ken led the defense of MusicNet, an early pioneer in the digital on-demand music service industry, against copyright infringement claims based on the alleged failure of the service to secure musical work reproduction rights licenses; representation enabled settlement not long after suit was filed.

Coleman, et al. v. ESPN. Ken led the defense of ESPN against claims of ASCAP members asserting copyright infringement based on ESPN’s alleged unlicensed public performance of musical works audible in the background of ESPN’s broadcasts of sports programming and challenging ESPN’s assertion of the “fair use” defense to such uses.  The case was settled on favorable terms on the eve of trial after successfully defeating publishers’ summary judgment motion relating to the fair use defense.

Angel Music, Inc. et al v. ABC Sports, et al. Ken led the defense of the local television industry in this putative dual plaintiff/defendant class action copyright infringement lawsuit claiming that the ABC Television Network had infringed the publishers’ rights by failing to secure synchronization licenses for so-called “one time uses” of compositions that were used as background for Olympics sports “bio-pic” segments; successfully achieved dismissal of action.

Other “Rate Court” Proceedings against ASCAP and BMI. Ken is and/or has been lead trial counsel for numerous other ASCAP/BMI licensees engaged both in traditional and new media forms of content distribution; over the years, he has managed or co-managed the negotiations and, where necessary, trial teams in consent decree proceedings against ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and GMR on behalf of more than forty cable/satellite/broadcast/new media content distribution services and providers.

Antitrust litigation against ASCAP and BMI. Ken was deeply involved in the seminal antitrust cases brought by the local television industry in the early 1980s (Buffalo Broadcasting Co., et al. v. ASCAP, et al.) and the cable TV industry in the early 1990s (NCTA, et al. v. BMI, et al.), against both ASCAP and BMI, which set the framework for the consent decree litigations that have followed.

International Copyright Tribunal Matters. Ken has been granted “rights of audience” in the Copyright Tribunals of the UK and Hong Kong to litigate matters pertaining to the proper structure and rates for musical work public performances (and, in some cases, reproductions), on behalf of both new media/online distributors of content and traditional cable/satellite television distributors. For example, he was lead trial counsel in the precedent-setting UK Copyright Tribunal litigation on behalf of a consortium of music service providers (including AOL, Yahoo!, Apple, Napster LLC, RealNetworks and MusicNet) against the UK collective MCPS/PRS. Prior to that, he represented a consortium of cable and satellite providers in proceedings before the Hong Kong Copyright Tribunal against the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong (CASH), which resulted in a favorable industry-wide settlement on the eve of trial.

Representative Other Media/Entertainment/Sports Litigation

iJaal.com, Inc., et al. v. baazee.com, Inc., et al. Ken was lead trial counsel in this SDNY jury trial defending baazee.com (the “eBay of India,” in which News Corp’s Star TV was the primary outside investor before acquisition by eBay after trial) and its principals against claims of breach of oral contract, misappropriation of partnership opportunity, misappropriation of trade secrets and related claims; won complete defense verdict.

Persky-Bright Organization, et al. v. Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc., et al. Ken was lead trial counsel in defense of two $300 million actions brought in SDNY and CDCA, in which the plaintiff motion picture investment groups alleged a series of violations by Columbia Pictures of motion picture distribution agreements, together with RICO, fraud, antitrust/block booking and tax indemnity claims. The case spanned several years and included a mini-trial of non-jury issues that resulted in the substantial curtailment of issues to proceed before a jury, leading to a favorable settlement thereafter.

Robehr Films, Inc. v. American Airlines, Inc. Ken was lead trial counsel in this SDNY jury action brought by an in-flight film supplier alleging fraud and breach of contract by American Airlines. Plaintiff claimed American’s conduct had forced it out of business. A three-week jury trial resulted in a no-liability defendant’s verdict, which was affirmed on appeal to the Second Circuit.

European American Bank v. Film Finances, Inc., et al. Ken was lead counsel in defending this action brought by EAB under film loan agreements and a completion bond against clients Film Finances and production/distribution entities. After preliminary pre-trial proceedings and motion practice, the case was settled on a zero-liability basis.

North American Soccer League (NASL) v. National Football League. Ken assisted in representing the NASL in this antitrust trial in the SDNY in which the NASL successfully challenged the NFL’s “cross ownership” ban, which would have prevented “cross-owners” such as Lamar Hunt and Joe Robbie from maintaining their investments in the NASL.

New York Islanders Hockey Club LP v. SMG, et al. Ken was lead trial counsel for the N.Y. Islanders hockey team in federal and state court litigations against SMG and Nassau County seeking to terminate lease arrangements at the Nassau Coliseum on novel constructive eviction theories. After preliminary injunction trial proceedings and a series of appeals, the case settled on a favorable basis.

Representative Other Engagements

David Wilson et al. v. Airborne, Inc. Ken was lead counsel in representation of the Airborne defendants in this consumer class action (removed to Central District of CA under CAFA) alleging, inter alia, false advertising and violations of California consumer protection laws; led to a favorable class settlement.

In re CA Title Insurance Litigation. Ken was lead trial counsel for a national title insurance company in this putative class action alleging violations of CA UCL §17200; oversaw successful motion practice leading to dismissal and 2012 order compelling individual claim arbitration.

NNN Britannia Business Center, et al v. Grubb & Ellis Co., et al. Ken was lead trial counsel for defendants in these CA state court actions alleging violations of CA UCL §17200, fraud, etc., associated with the syndication of certain commercial real estate investments; successful motion practice resulted in substantial curtailment of claims at issue.

Risko v. First Aviation Services, Inc., et al. Ken was lead trial counsel in this jury trial in Oakland, CA Superior Court alleging fraud and breach of contract against First Aviation and its principals. The case was brought by a former First Aviation principal alleging, among other things, entitlements under an oral agreement, and threatened the continued viability of the client group. A two-week jury trial resulted in a no-liability defendants’ verdict.

PIA v. UBS Securities, Inc. Ken was lead trial counsel in defending lender liability, fraud and breach of contract claims brought in New York State Supreme Court by the owners of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City against UBS, stemming from UBS’ termination of an agreement to finance the renovation of the hotel. A three-week bench trial resulted in a no-liability defendant’s verdict. Appellate proceedings in the New York Appellate Division and Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court rulings in defendant’s favor.

Overnight Partners, et al. v. Ritz Carlton Hotel Co. Ken was lead counsel in defense of this $300 million “kitchen sink” action brought in the SDNY by the owners of the Ritz Carlton hotel properties located in New York, Washington D.C., Houston and Aspen CO, against client Ritz Carlton. The case involved fraud, breach of contract, RICO, trademark and other claims brought by the Saudi group owners of those properties. After protracted pre-trial proceedings, the case settled on a favorable basis, whereby plaintiffs were stripped of their right to operate Ritz Carlton hotels.

In re Hylsa, S.A. v. M.W. Kellogg Co. Ken was lead trial counsel for Grupo Industrial Alfa’s steel company, Hylsa, SA, in ICC arbitration involving hundreds of millions of dollars in claims and technology issues relating to construction of “HYL Process” steel plants for SIDOR in Venezuela. After a series of ICC hearings, case was settled on a zero-liability basis to Hylsa.

Credentials

J.D., Fordham University, cum laude

B.A., Williams College, cum laude

California

New York

Supreme Court of the United States

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

IP Trailblazers


National Law Journal, 2016

One of Five Media & Entertainment MVPs


Law360, 2015

Top 10 Copyright Lawyers


The Daily Journal

Leading IP Attorneys: California


The Daily Journal (multiple years through 2021)

Leading Lawyer: IP/Media & Entertainment


Chambers USA and Chambers Global (multiple years through 2021)

Legal 500 USA


multiple years through 2021

Northern California Super Lawyer


Super Lawyers (multiple years through 2021)

Law Dragon

Power Lawyers: Top 100 Outside Counsel


Hollywood Reporter

Outstanding Antitrust Litigation Achievement in Private Law Practice: Finalist


AAI, 2014

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Recognition

IP Trailblazers


National Law Journal, 2016

One of Five Media & Entertainment MVPs


Law360, 2015

Top 10 Copyright Lawyers


The Daily Journal

Leading IP Attorneys: California


The Daily Journal (multiple years through 2021)

Leading Lawyer: IP/Media & Entertainment


Chambers USA and Chambers Global (multiple years through 2021)

Legal 500 USA


multiple years through 2021

Northern California Super Lawyer


Super Lawyers (multiple years through 2021)

Law Dragon

Power Lawyers: Top 100 Outside Counsel


Hollywood Reporter

Outstanding Antitrust Litigation Achievement in Private Law Practice: Finalist


AAI, 2014