Category Archives: Tennessee

Lawsuit Filed Over “On the Good Ship Lollypop” in Nashville

Earlier this week, Deborah Bush Gervash, individually and on behalf of the Estate of Richard A. Whiting, sued Warner/Chappell Inc., a division of Warner Music Group, in federal court in Nashville, Tennessee. Her complaint alleges that the label breached a royalty agreement entered into back in 1936, when Shirley Temple was the Miley Cyrus of her day. That agreement was between Whiting and Music Holders Publishing Corp., a predecessor to Warner Music, and was signed only two years before Whiting died in 1938. Whiting, who also wrote “Hooray for Hollywood,” was posthumously inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1970. It would be interesting to know how much in royalties these two songs are currently earning. Whatever the amount, Ms. Gervash says it isn’t enough and wants Warner Music to pony up some more. Warner hasn’t answered yet so we don’t know its side of the story. At any rate, its clear that–for the time being, at least–“The Good Ship Lollipop,” is no longer headed to the” sunny beach of Peppermint Bay.”

New Amazon Facilities Are Expected to Add 1300 jobs to Middle Tennessee.

Now that Amazon has reached an agreement with the State of Tennessee over the collection of sales tax, it has confirmed its plans to add two new facilities in Middle Tennessee–one in Murfreesboro and one in Lebanon. The new facilities are expected to add 1300 new jobs to the area. The retailer already has existing facilities in Hamilton and Bradley counties in East Tennessee. Under its new agreement with the state, Amazon will start collecting sales tax in Tennessee in 2014.

ESPN Reporter Erin Andrews Sues Nashville Hotel For Negligence, Invasion of Privacy over Stalking Incident and Stalker’s Release of Secret Video on Web

ESPN reporter Erin Andrews filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit in Davidson County Circuit Court last week accusing the West End Marriot of invasion of privacy, negligePicturence, and emotional distress stemming from a well-publicized incident in which an individual named Michael Barrett secretly videotaped her in the nude in 2008 and publicized it on the Internet. Barret, who is also a defendant in the lawsuit, was convicted of stalking Ms. Andrews in 2010, and was sentenced to two and half years in federal prison. Andrews is seeking $10 million in damages in the suit–$6 million from the Marriot and $4 million from Barrett. The Complaint alleges that Barrett called the Marriot and was told Ms. Andrew’s room number which enabled him to rent the room next to hers. Barrett then removed the peephole from Andrew’s hotel room door and filmed her without her knowledge as she was changing clothes. Andrews initially filed the lawsuit last year and withdrew it in order to file separate lawsuits in each of the cities where she was stalked and recorded by Barrett.


Tennessee Supreme Court Launches New Website to Give the Average Person Access to Justice

Picture

The Tennessee Supreme Court has launched an excellent new website, http://www.justiceforalltn.com, that aims to make justice more accessible to the average Tennessean. While the introduction to the website states that it is always best to talk to a lawyer about your particular legal problem, the website offers resources for those that have no choice but to represent themselves in the Tennessee court system. It contains the applicable statutes, rules, and forms for many common problems that Tennesseans face: child support and divorce, worker’s compensation issues, entitlement to unemployment benefits, the loss of one’s driver’s license, and immigration issues, just to name a few. The page also contains general information about Tennessee’s court system and how to find a lawyer. Lawyers will find it useful as well. It is a central repository for many court forms and contains links to all of Tennessee’s major bar associations. The court also encourages folks to provide suggestions as to additional material that should be included so let them know if you see something missing. I have added it to this blog’s links and encourage you to check it out.

Music Row Companies Spend Big Money On Lobbying to Promote Legislation that Protects Intellectual Property Rights

According to the Tennessean, Music Row business have spent close to $4 million dollars in the last three months lobbying Tennessee politicians like Bob Corker, Marsha Blackburn, and Jim Cooper for help on industry-friendly IP initiatives such as the Performance Rights Act (which would expand the royalties available for radio play), the Songwriters Tax Simplification Reauthorization Act (a bill for songwriters which simplifies their taxes), and the controversial  Stop Online Piracy Act or (“SOPA”)(the Senate version is called Protect IP). The entertainment industry originally tried to fight piracy by filing lawsuits against illegal down-loaders, but this ended up as a public relations debacle and did little to curb infringement. Consequently, the industry is now targeting its money and its efforts towards promoting legislation like SOPA, which the industry views as a reasonable and necessary weapon to protect IP rights. This route has its own challenges–much of the technology sector and Internet titans like Google and Facebook hate the bill and the fight will undoubtedly get bloody. It remains to be seen what we will end up with in the ever-shifting landscape that is modern copyright law.

Tennessee Court of Appeals makes it easier for Fisk to Sell the Georgia O’Keefe Art Collection

After a decision by the Tennessee Court of Appeals handed down on Tuesday, Nashville’s Fisk University is one step closer to being able to sell the gorgeous art collection bequeathed to it by artist Georgia O’Keefe. A little background is in order to understand this controversy. In 1949, O’Keefe donated 97 pieces to Fisk from the estate of her late husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz. The collection contains works by Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, Marsden Hartley, Alfred Maurer and Charles Demuth, among others. O’Keeffe, who died in 1986, also gave the school four of her own paintings as part of the gift, which was made to Fisk because the school educated blacks at a time when the South was segregated. The gift carried the stipulation that it could not be sold or broken up. But Fisk has long maintained that it cannot even afford the yearly costs of displaying the collection and that it needs to monetize the artwork to keep its doors open. In 2005, Fisk announced plans to sell O’Keeffe’s “Radiator Building” and Hartley’s “Painting No. 3.” The state attorney general opposed the sale because that office oversees charitable giving for the State. The parties have been litigating about the collection ever since.

Fisk wants to enter into a joint venture with the Crystal Bridges Museum of Benton, Arkansas, wherein Fisk would sell a 50% stake in the collection in exchange for $30 million dollars. The Fisk O’Keefe collection would then move between Fisk and the Crystal Bridges Museum every two years. Crystal Bridges also houses a collection amassed by Walmart heiress Alice Walton and features pieces like Asher Durand’s landscape painting “Kindred Spirits” and Norman Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter.”

The trial court had placed a condition on the transaction that Fisk had to reserve two thirds of the proceeds, or $20 million dollars, to ensure future upkeep of the collection amid the university’s shaky financial circumstances. The Court of Appeals held that the trial judge did not have the authority to impose this reserve and that the proposed sale could go forward without the reserve requirement. Judge Frank Clement dissented, arguing that the record indicated that it was never Georgia O’Keefe’s intention to give Fisk the collection in order “to pay its general operating expenses.”

While the Court of Appeals ruled out the reserve requirement, it did not preclude the court from approving one or another “dedicated source of support” for the collection. It also requires Fisk to outline how it will use a $1 million pledge from Walton to upgrade the display space and describe plans to spend the $30 million proceeds from the transaction.

The state attorney general’s office has not yet indicated whether to seek an appeal to the state Supreme Court and it has thirty days to make that decision.

The decision is In re Fisk University, No. M2010-02615-COA-R3-CV, decision dated November 29, 2011.

Judge Richard Dinkins, delivered the opinion of the court, in which Judge David Farmer joined. Judge Frank Clement filed a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

John P. Branham, Stacey A. Garrett, C. David Briley, and C. Michael Norton, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Fisk University.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Joseph F. Whalen, Associate Solicitor General, Janet M. Kleinfelter, Deputy Attorney General, and William N. Helou, Nashville,Tennessee, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Nashville’s Hammock, Inc. Reinvents Itself as Content Developer/Provider for the Health Care Industry

The Tennessean had an interesting profile of Hammock, Inc’s CEO, Rex Hammock, in the Technology section of today’s paper. For most of its twenty years,  Hammock, Inc. was a successful custom magazine printing business. Mr. Hammock found himself reinventing the company after weathering the loss of one of its largest clients–a client that comprised about 40% of its business. Since re-imaging the business as a health-care content provider, Hammock, Inc. has several major clients in the health care business, including some of Nashville’s biggest health care companies, like HealthStream and HealthTrust. Hammock, Inc. now creates on-line content and apps for this sector, producing videos and launching technology-based platforms for corporate clients that include a few non-healthcare based companies. Rather than simply printing magazines, Hammock now uses technology and the content it develops to helps its customers develop deeper relationships with their customers after the sale is made. Rex Hammock describes a wiki Hammock is developing for Healthstream that allows it to connect all the different kinds of information that it has compiled with the people within its hospitals that actually need that information. The HealthStream Competency Statement Wiktionary should be up and running early next year.

But Rex Hammock has other interests as well. He is widely regarded as technology pioneer, jumping into Twitter early enough to have the Twitter handle, “R,” and having the foresight to acquire the domain name “smallbusiness.com,” an on-line wiki he runs that has generated more than 26 million page views since he launched it five years ago. He uses smallbusiness.com as a laboratory to work on other types of businesses and to learn how customers want to see and access information. His thoughts on using social networking to develop relationships with his customers and other CEOs are well worth the read.  And while you’re at it, check out Hammock.com’s website. To celebrate its 20th birthday, it is giving away a free 2012 Content and Marketing Budgeting Guide that you might find useful.