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William M. Hart, a former Partner and past co-head of the copyright practice, serves as a Special Consultant to the Firm on copyright matters. Bill possesses a rare combination of highly specialized experience in copyright matters with genuine practical insight into a wide spectrum of “IP”-driven industries. As both a litigator and a transactional lawyer, his experience ranges from complex rights-restructurings of entertainment catalogs to cutting-edge litigation in the area of content delivery via new technologies. As a result, Bill has been a key player in some of the most challenging and important “content protection” matters in the U.S. and, because of his experience in multi-national matters, outside the U.S. as well, including:

  • the watershed Netcom case, which serves as a benchmark for ISP liability standards,
  • Napster, one of the first mainstream file-sharing cases,
  • the putative class action against YouTube, which addressed the DMCA contours of a site operator’s obligations to avoid ongoing infringement on its site, and
  • Universal City Studios v. Reimerdes, which was the first and most important “test” case applying the anti-circumvention provisions of the Copyright Act to a technology which enabled unauthorized users to decrypt protected DVD movies and proliferate highly compressed copies on the Internet.

Other landmark cases in which Bill helped shape the law include:

  • Silvers v. Sony Pictures Entertainment, a case of first impression on copyright standing in which the 9th Circuit reversed itself, en banc;
  • Cliffs’Notes v.Doubleday, a leading trademark parody case decided by the 2d Circuit and
  • Demetriades v. Kaufmann, a case of first impression on the scope of copyright protection for architectural works that catalyzed amendments to the U.S. Copyright Act.

Bill also has considerable transactional experience in the acquisition and sale of copyright assets and has been principally involved in music publishing, film and other deals involving large portfolios of valuable, well-recognized copyrights, including transactions involving the rights of Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Jimmy Webb and Rachmaninoff, as well as advising institutional clients holding significant positions in entertainment and other “IP-centric” assets as collateral. His transactional experience covers everything from software development deals to the representation of a New York Times Best-Selling author. He is equally at home with aerospace technology issues as he is with the demands of a celebrity rock and roll client.

A frequent lecturer, Bill has been a guest speaker for such groups as the Practicing Law Institute, the ABA and the United States Trademark Association, has conducted a number of symposia at leading university law schools on copyright, intellectual property litigation and licensing, and is the author of numerous publications in these areas. He currently teaches intellectual property law as an adjunct professor at UT Law School in Austin, Texas.