Our first original posting to DVDPundit - which for a while was discontinued and erased - is now found at LawPundit, but we may in the future have more postings here on the DVD scene. Here is a copy of the LawPundit posting:
"Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison [known in the trade as Paul Weiss], the international New York City based law firm which I joined as an associate after graduating from Stanford Law School in 1971, had, and still has, inter alia, a strong practice mixture of corporate, information technology and entertainment law. See the Vault and Excite for a profile of the firm.
Some years after I left the firm, Paul Weiss played an important advisory legal role in the development of the DVD standard (Digital Versatile Disc) which we use today.
This was not the only activity of the law firm in the newly developing field of digital information technology.
Indeed, Paul Weiss represented the National Music Publishers Association [a client for whom I did quite a bit of work as associate in my years with the firm] and it was the NMPA with whom Napster settled in the famous Napster copyright infringement action several years ago. Paul Weiss and the NMPA are still very much in the news currently.
Similarly, in a recent peer-to-peer file sharing copyright infringement case, Paul Weiss represents the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in a suit involving Grokster and Kazaa.
Paul Weiss has also represented the EMI Group and EMI Music.
Moreover, Paul Weiss has a long-standing relationship to AOL Time Warner, the largest communications company in the world, formed through decades in part by the efforts of Paul Weiss lawyers, such as Peter Haje, who became Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Time Warner and thereafter Counsellor to AOL Time Warner.
Essentially, the law firm helped to make the music, movie and entertainment industry what it is today.
Politically, Paul Weiss has always been known to be among the most "liberal" of all the so-called major US law firms. The ranks of Paul Weiss law firm partners included Adlai Ewing Stevenson, Lloyd Kirkham Garrison, Ramsey Clark, Morris B. Abram, Arthur Goldberg, Edward N. Costikyan, Theodore Sorensen (today, of counsel to the firm), and Judge Simon H. Rifkind, lawyer inter alia to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Charles H. Revson of Revlon, and the last "patriarch" of the firm. It is consequently a remarkable situation that the firm Paul Weiss now is seen as representing the copyright-protected "establishment" recording industry. How did this paradox situation come to be?
To get an answer to this question, we must look at a "Paul Weiss centered" history of the entertainment business, broadly defined, in the past 100 years.
The beginnings of the firm were tied to Paul Weiss clients who developed television in its infancy. Additionally, founder John Wharton was the lawyer and executor for songwriter Cole Porter, who wrote the music for Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer, the first "talking" motion picture. The connection to cinema thus came early and subsequent exercisable expertise in a profession is of course largely a question of experience. So the firm got in on the ground floor of the entertainment business many years ago.
Logically, Paul Weiss then became attorneys for famous artists and fashion designers such as Andy Warhol and Calvin Klein, while other partners of the firm such as Robert H Montgomery served as counsel to movie stars like Marilyn Monroe.
The emphasis on new technology, glamour, entertainment and politics thus has a long law firm tradition at Paul Weiss. This flair was also combined with a foresight toward coming societal developments.
For example, Paul Weiss was the first major law firm in New York City to move out of crowded Wall Street into Midtown Manhattan, signalling a move followed by many other major New York City law firms.
Paul Weiss was also the first major law firm to hire a black lawyer - William Coleman, Jr. - who finished first in his class at Harvard Law School in 1946 and who commuted to Paul Weiss in New York City from Philadelphia, his home town, because no major law firm in Philadelphia would hire him. For the full story see William Coleman, Jr.
All commentators have pointed out that Paul Weiss is "different" than all other big law firms, but defining that difference has not been easy. Perhaps the core of the difference was reflected in Judge Rifkind's repeated policy statement "that a law firm is a profession and not a business organization," quoted by Michael Orey, in Paul, Weiss: Profits and Principle, The American Lawyer, June, 1987. I certainly agreed in my younger days.
In any case, it is no suprise that Paul Weiss was actively involved in developing the DVD standard - this involvement was the continuation of a tradition that has been going on at Paul, Weiss for many decades. It is not by chance that Paul Weiss represents the music and entertainment industry TODAY - it helped to make that industry what it is YESTERDAY. But of course, times change and industries change, and we are in a period of digital transformation.
Hence, the scope of coverage of DVDPundit reaches beyond simple news and reviews of music, movies, information or software found on Digital Versatile Discs (DVDs). DVDPundit's ambit also spans the legal and political IT world, including copyright and piracy issues, hardware and software standards, and the entire world of DVD."
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