William (“Bill”) Hart is a well-known New York City copyright lawyer with deep, long-standing experience as both a litigator and transactional lawyer in complex copyright matters across a range of industries: music publishing, literary works, fine art, architecture and technology, among others.
Many of his cases are considered landmarks in the law and he has been lead copyright counsel in the acquisition, sale and valuation of some of the most significant music catalogs in the world. Bill retired from lawyering in November 2014, after 33 years of very active practice.
Bill now consults in the music and technology fields. He has over four decades of experience in the audio recording arts and writes extensively on modern music history and recordings. Bill is also an adjunct professor at UT Law School in Austin, Texas where he teaches an Advanced Copyright/Media Rights course and a basic Copyright Law course. Bill and his wife Liz recently relocated to Austin, TX. as their permanent residence.
PRINCIPAL, FLYINGREPTILEMEDIAGROUP 2012-
Project development in various creative arts and media: music, books, film and the Internet.
PUBLISHER/EDITOR, THEVINYLPRESS.COM, 2015-
Music history, essays, articles and interviews with a focus on analog recording arts from the 1950s-1970s, including essays published in the National Recording Registry maintained by the U.S. Library of Congress to acknowledge sound recordings that are of historical and cultural importance.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS LAW SCHOOL AT AUSTIN, 2012-
Adjunct Professor-Advanced Copyright/Media Rights Workshop; Copyright Law
EXPERT WITNESS-2012-15: THE BEATLES “LOST CONCERT”
Bill Hart served as an expert witness on U.S. Copyright law in a case in London involving rare concert footage of The Beatles—the so-called “Lost Concert”—providing written reports to the court on the copyright status of the film and its relationship to the separate rights in the musical compositions. At trial, Mr. Hart was called to testify on a subset of issues concerning the “fair use” doctrine under U.S. law.
PROSKAUER- 1999-2012, EQUITY PARTNER; CO-CHAIR- COPYRIGHT PRACTICE
Litigation and transactional practice devoted to copyright with emphasis on content protection and acquisition and sale of entertainment catalogs, traditional literary property and technology licensing. Notable cases include: Premier League v. YouTube/Google; Universal City Studios v. Reimerdes (2d Cir.); Silvers v. Sony (9th Cir., en banc) Video Pipeline v Buena Vista Home Ent. (amicus, 3d Cir.); A & M Records, et al v. Napster (9th Cir.) Transactional: Estate of Otis Blackwell (wrote top Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis songs); Elvis (sale of catalog); represented bidders of Warner Bros. Music, Arc (Chess Records) Music.
PAUL, HASTINGS, JANOFSKY & WALKER- 1991-99, EQUITY PARTNER
Notable cases include RTC v. Netcom (bedrock of DMCA ‘takedown provisions’) as well as numerous formative cases in the US and Europe governing ISP liability for copyright infringement. Catalog representation included acquisition and consolidation of worldwide Bob Marley rights, Jimmy Webb, Barrett Strong, Marvin Gaye and Rachmaninoff catalogs.
MILGRIM, THOMAJAN & LEE- 1988-91, EQUITY PARTNER
Notable cases include Cliffs Notes v. Doubleday (2d Cir); Demetriades v. Kaufmann (SDNY) (copyright in architecture). Involved in numerous matters for celebrity recording artists including Madonna, Bob Marley, Run-DMC and many others. Contributor to Milgrim on Trade Secrets (copyright and antitrust chapters); represented Arthur Fellig (‘Weegee’) estate in connection with catalog of famous ‘noir’ photographs.
COWAN, LIEBOWITZ & LATMAN- 1981-88, ASSOCIATE
Contributed to expansion of Lanham Act 43(a) in numerous cases involving character licensing rights (Smurf, Muppets, Cabbage Patch, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears); involved in Reader’s Digest v. Nation (Gerald Ford memoirs case); worked on recording contracts for CBS and RCA Records for Bob Dylan, Hall & Oates and many others.
»U.S. District Court, New York, Eastern District
»U.S. District Court, New York, Southern District
»U.S.Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
»U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL, NEW YORK, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR 2005-2012
Advanced Copyright and Trademark – drawing together copyright, trademark, right of publicity, trade secret and unfair competition principles in a variety of real world litigation and transactional settings, including sales, licensing and other transactions; due diligence of intellectual property rights; transactional and litigation aspects of music, software, text and other forms of ‘content delivery’ in both traditional and developing media.
Recipient, Burton Fellowship, Columbia University School of Law, 1981
University of London School of Law, Summer 1980 (comparative law studies)
University of Pittsburgh School of Law, J.D. 1981. Law Review. Top 10% of First Year Class. Executive Editor, Journal of Law and Commerce;
Founding Member, Pittsburgh Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. Recipient, Local Nathan Burkan Prize.
Carnegie-Mellon University, B.A. in History, 1977, with honors
New York Super Lawyers 2010-2011
Best Lawyers in America 1999-2012
Committees & Professional Associations (Past and Present):
New York City Bar (Committee on Copyright & Literary Property)
United States Trademark Association (Federal Legislation Committee)
United States Copyright Society
NARAS (Grammy Organization)
Audio Engineering Society
Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (2014)
Rosie’s Theatre Kids (2010-12)