Named in 2019 as one of the city's Top 50 Litigators & Trial Lawyers by Los Angeles Business Journal, Jeff is known for handling “groundbreaking copyright infringement litigation” and “some of the most complex copyright cases in the entertainment industry.” He has been honored as one of the nation’s premier entertainment litigators by Variety, listed among the nation’s top copyright litigators by Legal 500, and awarded an Honorary Gold Record by the Recording Industry Association of America for his success in the seminal Napster case. A “key figure in numerous high-stakes intellectual property fights,” Jeff is perennially recognized as one of California’s Top 75 intellectual property lawyers by the Daily Journal, most recently in 2020, and as a Southern California Super Lawyer (representing the top 5% of practicing attorneys) by Thomson Reuters (2004-20). His clients have included all of the world's largest record companies and music publishing companies, Apple, Coca-Cola, Muhammad Ali, Eminem, and Dr. Dre.
A “veteran of high-stakes music industry skirmishes,” Jeff is “among the nation’s top music litigators.” He has litigated hundreds of music cases involving more than 30 Billboard #1 records, more than 30 Grammy Award winners (including The Beatles, Prince, Ariana Grande, Stevie Wonder, Cher, Mariah Carey, Olivia Newton-John, and Michael Jackson), and more than 30 members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (including U2, Nirvana, Tupac Shakur, Pearl Jam, The Temptations, Parliament/Funkadelic, The Allman Brothers Band, and Crosby Stills Nash & Young).
Jeff litigates nationally, and his practice is evenly divided between representing plaintiffs and defendants. He has litigated cases against the world’s largest airline, search engine, toy company, e-commerce retailer, and electronics retailer, as well as against some of the world’s largest drug companies, beer companies, automakers, and entertainment conglomerates. His cases have figured prominently in the development of modern intellectual property and entertainment law, resulting in more than 150 reported judicial decisions, which have been cited in thousands of other reported decisions. His scholarship on intellectual property issues has been featured in publications such as the National Law Journal, The Sedona Conference Journal, Cyber Esq., and the Journal of Internet Law.SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE AND SUCCESSES
Jeff has tried both copyright and trademark cases to juries, judges, and arbitrators with great success, but, recognizing that clients "want outcomes that have practical results," more often achieves complete vindication of his clients' rights without the expense of a trial or arbitration. "You have to be tenacious and never stop thinking about different angles, different ways to obtain results for your client even when they don’t appear obvious on the surface." For example, Jeff has:
Obtained summary judgment for copyright defendants in numerous actions involving popular music, on a variety of grounds:
- John Newman’s Love Me Again. Apps v. Universal Music Group, Inc., 763 Fed. Appx. 599 (9th Cir. 2019) (lack of originality, lack of substantial similarity).
- Nelly Furtado and Timbaland’s Do It. Kernel Records Oy v. Mosley, 694 F.3d 1294 (11th Cir. 2012) (failure to properly register foreign work).
- K’naan’s Wavin’ Flag. Hermosilla v. Coca-Cola Co., 446 Fed. Appx. 201 (11th Cir. 2011) (email consent overcame statute of frauds).
- U2’s Vertigo. Lester v. U2 Limited, 2009 WL 10673938 (C.D. Cal. 2009) (parent/subsidiary liability).
- 50 Cent’s In Da Club. Lil’ Joe Wein Music, Inc. v. Jackson, 245 Fed. Appx. 873 (11th Cir. 2007) (lack of originality).
- Truth Hurts’ Addictive. Lahiri v. Universal Music & Video Distribution, Inc., 513 F. Supp. 2d 1172 (C.D. Cal. 2007) (work for hire under copyright law of India).
- Ice-T’s 99 Problems. Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Rhyme Syndicate Music, 376 F.3d 615 (6th Cir. 2004) (statute of limitations).
- Eazy E’s Eazy-Duz-It. Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. DJ Yella Muzick, 99 Fed. Appx. 686 (6th Cir. 2004) (license).
- Patience & Prudence's Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now. Mappa Music Co. v. Universal-Polygram Int'l Pub. Inc., 62 U.S.P.Q.2d 1582 (C.D. Cal. 2001) (laches, statute of limitations).
- Tupac Shakur’s R U Still Down? (Remember Me) album. Hafiz v. Interscope Records, Inc. (C.D. Cal. 2000) (lack of co-authorship).
- Hoyt Axton’s Joy To The World. Jackson v. Axton, 25 F.3d 884 (9th Cir. 1994) (laches).
- Lil Jon, Ludacris and Usher's Lovers and Friends. Rondor Music Intern. Inc. v. TVT Records LLC, 2006 WL 5105272 (C.D. Cal. 2006).
- Over 4,500 counts of willful copyright infringement by an airline music supplier. UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Global Eagle Entertainment, Inc., 2016 Copr. L. Dec. ¶ 30,919 (C.D. Cal. 2016).
- Over 3000 counts of copyright infringement by a flea market. UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Sinnott, 300 F. Supp. 2d 993 (E.D. Cal. 2004).
- Over 240 counts of copyright infringement by a make-your-own-ringtone website. Arista Records LLC v. Myxer Inc., 2011 WL 11660773 (C.D. Cal. 2011) (ownership and fair use defense).
- Over 800 counts of copyright infringement by a flea market. Arista Records, Inc. v. Flea World, Inc., 78 U.S.P.Q.2d 1339 (D. N.J. 2006).
Obtained six-figure awards of attorneys’ fees and costs for successfully defending copyright and contract suits, including directly against a plaintiff’s attorney for litigating in bad faith:
- Over $500,000 against a plaintiff songwriter. Hermosilla v. Coca- Cola Co., 492 Fed. Appx. 73 (11th Cir. 2012).
- Over $400,000 against a plaintiff record company. Kernel Records Oy v. Mosley, 2014 WL 12495289 (S.D. Fla. 2014).
- Over $350,000 against a plaintiff music producer as the “alter ego” of the corporate plaintiff. Overrated Prods. v. Universal Music Group Recordings, Inc., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52136 (C.D. Cal. 2020).
- Over $250,000 against a plaintiff’s attorney. Lahiri v. Universal Music and Video Distribution Corp., 606 F.3d 1216 (9th Cir. 2010).
Successfully represented music clients in important cases of first impression, including many of the most significant cases in the evolution of the music business from physical to digital delivery:
- Defending the world’s largest record company in a class action concerning digital download royalties, which the Hollywood Reporter described as an “important chapter in the legal history of the music business.” James v. UMG Recordings, Inc., 2013 WL 5402045 (N.D. Cal. 2013), 2014 WL 555179 (N.D. Cal. 2014).
- Establishing that digital copies are covered by the broad grant of rights in most recording agreements of the 1960s and 1970s. Silvester v. Time Warner, Inc., 763 N.Y.S.2d 912 (2003), aff'd, 787 N.Y.S.2d 870 (2005).
- Establishing the boundaries of copyright liability for facilitating infringement on the Internet. A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc., 239 F.3d 1004 (9th Cir. 2001); Perfect 10, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., 508 F.3d 1146 (9th Cir. 2007).
- Establishing the constitutionality of the federal anti-bootlegging statute. U.S. v. Moghadam, 175 F.3d 1269 (11th Cir. 1999).
- Establishing that a record company owns the copyright in a bootleg recording made during the term of the company’s recording contract with an artist. Sony Music Entertainment, Inc. v. Best Buy, Inc. (1998).
- Establishing that copyright owners possess a "synchronization right." Agee v. Paramount Communications, Inc., 59 F.3d 317 (2d Cir. 1995).
- Establishing that a foreign defendant that authorizes a copyright infringement in the U.S. is subject to nationwide personal jurisdiction. Universal Music MGB NA LLC v. Quantum Music Works, Inc., 769 Fed. Appx. 445 (9th Cir. 2019).
Successfully represented music clients in trademark infringement actions:
- Obtaining summary judgment for a major record company on First Amendment grounds in an action brought by a leading toy company concerning the hit song Barbie Girl. Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894 (9th Cir. 2002).
- Obtaining dismissal on the pleadings of a trademark claim arising from the copyright registration of a Mariah Carey song. Zekkariyas v. Universal Music-MGB Songs, 2011 WL 13220325 (C.D. Cal. 2011).
- Obtaining dismissal on the pleadings of a trademark claim brought by a musical group alleging that the title of a Jackson Five album was infringing. Woodard v. Jackson, 2004 WL 771244 (S.D. Ind. 2004).
- Obtaining summary judgment dismissing trademark claims based on the failure to credit the plaintiff. Williams v. UMG Recordings, Inc., 281 F. Supp. 2d 1177 (C.D. Cal. 2003); Lahiri v. Universal Music & Video Distribution Corp., 2006 WL 6030551 (C.D. Cal. 2006).
- Defending record companies in numerous trademark actions concerning artists and record labels with identical names.
- Successfully represented clients in defamation and right of publicity matters:
- Establishing that the value of O.J. Simpson’s right of publicity was properly considered by the jury in awarding $25 million in punitive damages for the killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Rufo v. Simpson, 86 Cal. App. 4th 573 (2001).
- Helping Muhammad Ali develop a comprehensive enforcement regime to protect and enhance the value of his right of publicity, paving the way for his sale of the right for $50 million.
- Obtaining dismissal of a libel action by a famous actor and director against a tabloid after worldwide jurisdictional discovery. Costner v. Hello! Ltd. (Cal. 1997).
- Negotiating retractions and modifications of published material about clients from publications such as The New York Times and the National Enquirer.
Successfully represented entertainment clients in major contract and business litigation:
- Representing record companies and music publishing companies in high-profile royalty disputes involving prominent artists such as Cher, Rick James, The Carpenters, Al Green, Bill Withers, Olivia Newton-John, and The Temptations. E.g., Overrated Prods. v. Universal Music Group Recordings, Inc., 2019 WL 6729718, 2019 WL 7195327 (C.D. Cal. 2019).
- Representing music clients in many other contract and business disputes involving major artists such as Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Beck, Courtney Love, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Three Dog Night, The Rascals, and Blink-182.
- Representing director Spike Lee in litigation concerning his right to use footage from the LAPD’s Rodney King incident in his film Malcolm X.
- Representing Oscar- and Emmy-winning actors and directors such as Jack Nicholson, Robert Altman, James Brolin, and Marlon Brando in high-profile lawsuits.
J.D., University of California Hastings College of the Law, 1991
B.A., Economics, University of California, Los Angeles, 1988
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
U.S. District Court, Central District of California
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California