Jonathan Goins Publishes Bloomberg Law Insight Article on Precedential Second Circuit Right of Publicity Opinion

October 16, 2020

Atlanta Partner and Vice-Chair of Lewis Brisbois’ Intellectual Property & Technology Practice Jonathan D. Goins recently authored an Insight article for Bloomberg Law titled “Second Circuit Sets Precedent in 50 Cent Right of Publicity Case.” The article discusses a recent decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that will have significant implications for future right of publicity matters, as well as the entertainment industry at large.

Atlanta, Ga. (October 16, 2020) - Atlanta Partner and Vice-Chair of Lewis Brisbois’ Intellectual Property & Technology Practice Jonathan D. Goins recently authored an Insight article for Bloomberg Law titled “Second Circuit Sets Precedent in 50 Cent Right of Publicity Case.” The article discusses a recent decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that will have significant implications for future right of publicity matters, as well as the entertainment industry at large.

In the article, Mr. Goins begins by explaining that the Second Circuit recently adopted the copyright preemption doctrine when it barred the right of publicity claim that Curtis Jackson (a/k/a 50 Cent) filed against William Roberts (a/k/a Rick Ross) almost five years ago. In describing the significance of the court’s seminal, 66-page decision, Mr. Goins explains that the ruling creates a further circuit split on the issue of copyright preemption and also potentially complicates longstanding music licensing practices.

After opening with a brief statement on the importance of the Second Circuit’s decision, Mr. Goins delves into the underlying facts of the matter and both the trial and appeals courts’ analyses. The case in question began when Mr. Jackson sued Mr. Roberts after Mr. Roberts recorded and made publicly available a remix version of Mr. Jackson’s most popular song, “In Da Club.” Mr. Jackson’s complaint alleged that Mr. Roberts’ use of Mr. Jackson’s voice in the song and stage name in the track’s title violated Mr. Jackson’s right of publicity under Connecticut common law. Although both the trial and appeals courts decided in favor of Mr. Roberts, they did so on different grounds, with the Second Circuit determining that statutory preemption by the express provision of Section 301 of the Copyright Act barred Mr. Jackson’s right of publicity claim.

As the article describes, the Second Circuit’s analysis provides “a blueprint for deciding cases involving right of publicity claims based on the use of copyrighted music.” In addition, the decision creates a further circuit split on this issue for the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve because the Second Circuit “now joins the Eighth and Ninth Circuits in adopting the copyright preemption doctrine to right of publicity claims in the entertainment context.” Furthermore, Mr. Goins notes the importance of a “surprising twist” in the Second Circuit’s dicta, which appears to suggest that an artist’s right of publicity claim could possibly survive the expiration of a recording agreement. According to Mr. Goins, the survival of such a claim could upend music licensing processes throughout the entertainment industry.

Mr. Goins is vice-chair of Lewis Brisbois’ Intellectual Property & Technology Practice. He served as lead counsel for Mr. Roberts in the litigation that formed the basis for this Bloomberg Law article, and has also been interviewed by Billboard regarding the case. Earlier this year, Mr. Goins was appointed to Law 360’s Intellectual Property Editorial Advisory Board for the second consecutive year. With over 17 years of experience, Mr. Goins serves as lead counsel in litigating federal cases nationwide for a wide range of clients, from Fortune 500 companies to profitable start-ups, on matters involving trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, right of publicity, breach of contractual technology disputes, and related business torts.

You can read the full Bloomberg Law article here.