Programming for the September 16 Entertainment & Technology Law Conference will be determined with a steering committee of legal experts who are on the front lines of today’s industry issues.
Michael Poster, Esq., Michelman & Robinson LLP
(CLE Program Chair)
In M&R’s Corporate & Securities Department, Michael Poster focuses on corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, venture capital investments and debt and equity financings. Poster represents a broad range of private and public companies, including private equity groups, hedge funds, institutional lenders, strategic buyers, entrepreneurs and individual investors. Many of his clients are in the entertainment and media industries. His practical, business-focused approach makes him an effective strategic counselor and deal manager. He works closely with clients throughout all stages of their transactions, from pre-deal planning and strategy through negotiation and execution, to financing, closing and post-closing activities. He drafts and negotiates agreements and other documents related to mergers and acquisitions in the United States and abroad. Poster also has extensive experience helping clients to form joint ventures and similar strategic business relationships, for which he advises on governance and exit strategies. He handles early, mid- and late-stage venture financing transactions, executive employment agreements, merger proxies and other federal securities filings; and seeding and management of hedge funds and private equity funds. Representing institutional and individual clients in all transactional aspects of the music industry, he frequently counsels on matters involving entertainment companies and related assets. His music practice includes drafting and negotiating agreements and other documents that facilitate the acquisition of recording and music publishing catalogs, the use of copyrights and other intellectual property as collateral in financing transactions (including asset-based lending and securitization transactions), and licensing matters.
Michael Abitbol, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Michael Abitbol is currently VP of Business & Legal Affairs for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. In this role, he is involved in all aspects of Sony/ATV Music Publishing’s digital business, which includes drafting and negotiating license agreements with digital services for the exploitation of Sony/ATV’s catalog of compositions in various digital formats and investigating and initiating legal actions against infringing digital services. Abitbol is also involved in various current issues related to public performance rights. Prior to joining Sony/ATV, he worked at EMI Music Publishing for five years overseeing digital matters. Prior to working at EMI, Abitbol was an associate at Davis & Gilbert, LLP for seven years, where he drafted and negotiated various entertainment and advertising-related agreements, including ringtone agreements, management agreements, talent agreements and agency-client agreements. At Davis & Gilbert, he also advised clients with respect to intellectual property-related issues, including copyright, trademark and rights of privacy and publicity. Prior to practicing law, he worked for 21st Century Artists, a music management company based in New York City, where he handled the day-to-day management of various music groups including Maxi Priest, Third World and Big Mountain, and where he oversaw all aspects of the production of various live tours. After leaving 21st Century Artists, Abitbol began his own management company, King’s Flavour Management, through which he managed bands for 3 years.
Toby Butterfield, Esq., Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
Toby Butterfield has 20 years of experience litigating and counseling on copyright, trademark, defamation, software and digital media, and commercial matters. His clients include media and entertainment companies, major brand owners and designers and manufacturers of luxury goods. His recent work includes successfully representing book publishers in various copyright litigations, a major airline in a trademark dispute, obtaining a fair use dismissal of a case against theater producers for production of a parody play. He obtained injunctive relief for the owner and publisher of Business Traveller magazine in a trademark licensing dispute with a competitor, represented FilmOn, the Over The Top streaming media technology company, in a copyright case against it by all the major networks; and represented HIT Entertainment, Inc. — owner of Barney®, Thomas the Tank Engine™ and Bob the Builder® — in anticounterfeiting efforts which effectively shut down manufacturers and distributors of counterfeit adult costumes of those well known characters. He also counsels producers and publishers on pre-publication and pre-broadcast review of content. Prior to joining the firm, Butterfield was a partner at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP. He is admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.
Joe DiMona, BMI
Joe DiMona is VP of Legal Affairs at Broadcast Music, Inc. He has been handling legal matters for BMI for more than 20 years. In his role, DiMona oversees a wide range of matters, including license fee litigation before the BMI rate court in the Southern District of New York, the negotiation and drafting of music performance license agreements and Copyright Royalty Board compulsory license proceedings. In addition, he has handled copyright infringement actions against unlicensed music users. DiMona has dealt with legislative and regulatory matters in Washington, D.C., for two decades, including testifying at Copyright Office hearings and working on copyright legislation, as well as FCC and PTO matters. He was involved in the creation of the first music performance Internet website license in 1995 and has been active in new media licensing and digital copyright issues.
Christine Lepera, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, LLP
Christine Lepera focuses her practice on the entertainment and media industries, as a litigator and strategic advisor and is a co-chair of the Entertainment and IP Litigation Practice Groups. Her practice covers the landscape of entertainment/media disputes and issues, including claims of copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition, right of publicity/privacy violations, and industry contract and commercial disputes. Lepera has represented many leading entertainers and entertainment/media companies. Past cases include obtaining summary judgment for UK artist “Jessie J” and other defendants in connection with alleged copyright infringement over song “Domino” and representing Aubrey “Drake” Graham in connection with copyright and trademark litigation.
Christopher J. Marino, Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla, PC
Christopher J. Marino has a bi-coastal law practice providing a diverse array of legal services to entertainment and media industry clients focusing on general commercial and business law, trademark law, copyright law, trade secret law and unfair business practices. He has extensive experience litigating and resolving general commercial and intellectual property disputes, and also provides transactional and business counseling in the areas of copyright, trademark, trade secret, unfair competition and business practices, and general commercial law. Marino also has experience serving as outside general counsel, advising clients in the area of employment matters, dissolution and wind-down, public communications and relations with media, and general commercial matters. He is also a co-founder of and head of business affairs for the record label Capacitor Records based out of Spring Lake, New Jersey. He also serves as the lead guitarist for the New Jersey-based band, Yorkshire Tenth.
Adam Ritholz, Ritholz Levy Sanders Chidekel & Fields, LLP
Adam Ritholz is Founding and Managing Partner of Ritholz Levy Sanders Chidekel & Fields, LLP, originally established in 1995. His practice consists of both new entrepreneurial and established entertainment, media and technology companies for which the firm provides a broad range of services, including development of business model strategies, financing documents, revenue modeling, corporate set up and documentation, trademark (including registrations, office actions and oppositions), employment, talent and IP acquisition, digital platform licensing, as well as joint venture and acquisition transactions and distribution agreements. Ritholz has been at the forefront of the development of new approaches to the infrastructure and revenue models of new and developing entertainment companies to bring a fresh ground up approach to the challenges presented by the eroding viability of conventional entertainment business models.