Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA
 

State of the Institute

August 1, 2006

I have been waiting to send my annual "State of the Institute" letter so that I could report more fully on one of our major initiatives for the 2005-2006 academic year. That, of course, is the launch of the Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law, the inaugural issue.  The Journal is a joint project of the Institute and the American Bar Association's Forum on Communications Law. We believe the Journal fills an underserved but increasingly important niche by promoting scholarship focused on the international dimension of media and entertainment law. Another element that sets the Journal apart from most others is that the selection of articles and their substantive editing are done by faculty and practitioners. Students also played an important role by handling the technical editing chores which were considerable.

The enclosed issue includes articles by well-regarded scholars and practitioners. Kyu Youm, who holds the Jonathan Marshall First Amendment Chair at the University of Oregon, contributed an in depth look at the international dimensions of reporter's privilege. Ashley Packard explores the developing areas of international jurisdiction, choice of law and enforcement of judgments in regard to the Internet. Floyd Abrams, one of the country's leading First Amendment scholars and practitioners, contributed an excerpt from his recently published book Speaking Freely, and Dick Winfield, formerly counsel to the Associated Press and now Chairman of the World Press Freedom Committee and a faculty member at Columbia and Fordham law schools, discusses the prominent role specialized media lawyers, and in particular those from the United States, have played in helping to develop international media law. The issue also includes the transcript of the Entertainment Without Borders symposium co-sponsored by Southwestern and the Beverly Hills Bar Association and a student report on a recent legal development.

I owe a debt of gratitude to all those who contributed so much to getting this project off the ground. From Southwestern, faculty members Michael Epstein, Silvia Faerman, Michael Scott and Lon Sobel serve on the Board of Editors. You will find the names of all the contributors - practitioners, faculty and students - on the masthead, and without their efforts this simply couldn't have happened.

Although the Journal was the most ambitious project we undertook this year, it wasn't the only one. In addition to the Entertainment Without Borders symposium mentioned above, the Institute sponsored two other conferences. In November we held our annual collaboration with IPELS, this year focusing on music law. Particular thanks go to Professor Robert Lind who served as our liaison with IPELS and was integrally involved in the planning process. In January, our 3rd annual symposium with the Media Law Resource Center, entitled Brave New World: Representing Media and Entertainment Clients in an Evolving and Regulated Environment, was an enormous success, setting an attendance record for that program.

Our Conversation With... series continued with three guests over the course of the year: Daniel Petrocelli of O'Melveny & Myers; John Schulman, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Warner Brothers; and Don Passman of Gang Tyre Ramer & Brown. I moderated the discussions with Messrs. Petrocelli and Schulman while Professor Lind posed the questions to Don Passman.

The London summer program entered its third year and continues to grow. As I write we have 47 students studying four entertainment and media subjects at the University of London. Professor Sobel continues to direct the program and teach International Entertainment Law and Professor Epstein teaches International and Comparative Media Law. Associate Dean Chris Cameron teaches the first half of the International Sports Law course. They are joined by two distinguished British faculty - Simon Gardiner who teaches the second part of Sports Law and Henry Lydiate who teaches International Art Law. In addition to the curricular offerings, the program is set apart by an extraordinarily rich array of extracurricular activities planned and conducted by Lon and Carol Sobel and Michael Epstein.

From a curricular perspective, we added another course to our Summer offerings - Video Game Law. And with particular assistance from Professor Lind, we have expanded our selective Practicum Program, which allows students to work at entertainment law firms for course credit. This year three of those placements resulted in our students receiving offers of employment from their firms. If your firm is interested in exploring a Practicum with us, please let me know, and I can provide you with additional details.

Finally, in May, we graduated six LL.M.s. As of the date of this letter, we don't know how many new LL.M. candidates will matriculate into this year's class, although we had a number of very promising applicants that were accepted. Over the course of the next several months, we will be launching a renewed effort to attract more foreign LL.M. candidates. Professors Lind, Epstein and Faerman have taken the laboring oar in revising our current LL.M. brochure to add a more international focus, and we expect that effort to be completed early in the next semester.

As we approach the start of the 2006-2007 academic year, we have a number of projects in the planning stages. On October 21, we will jointly sponsor with Loyola Law School a symposium on video game law. We are also planning our 4th annual symposium with the Media Law Resource Center and our 2nd annual internationally focused program with the Beverly Hills Bar Association. Shortly we expect to announce Conversation With... for the fall semester and another in our Media Forum series, this one focusing on issues surrounding paparazzi and celebrity journalism. And, of course, having now completed our first issue of the Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law, we now turn to the next issue.

As I do each year, I conclude with thanks for your continued support. I also want to recognize Dean Bryant Garth who, like his predecessor Dean Leigh Taylor, has been a great supporter of the Institute.

I encourage you to contact the Institute with your suggestions. In particular, if you have interest in writing for the Journal, please let me know. We would welcome your contributions.

David Kohler