NYIPLA Presidents' Forum

Event Date
  • 10/21/2020   4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
    Please arrive early for registration
  • Webinar


In recent years, the President’s Forum has explored various patent law issues as well as the issue of online platform liability for IP infringement. This year, the first President’s Forum will address copyright law, specifically the recent Ninth Circuit en banc decision involving the Led Zeppelin song STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. 

This and other music copyright infringement cases such as those involving the songs BLURRED LINES by Pharrell and Robin Thicke and DARK HORSE by Katy Perry raise the following issues and discussion points for the Forum:

  • Key evidentiary issues in music copyright cases including a summary of the proofs in recent cases.
  • What are the various ways to demonstrate “substantial similarity” of music compositions and the limits of each? 
  • What challenges are presented in music cases that may differ from other copyright infringement assessments such as those involving software, written works, photographs, works of visual art?
  • How is innovation affecting the music marketplace and disputes in this area, e.g., the ability to identify similar songs, the ability to prove access, the ability to analyze similarities?
  • How was the “inverse ratio rule” applied and what was its rationale? 
  • As a musician, how does one go about evaluating or minimizing risk of infringement? 
  • The current state of the law relating to music, including efforts to address modernization of the Copyright Office.


  • Hon. Denny Chin, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • Nicholas Bartelt, Attorney Advisor, U.S. Copyright Office
  • Prof. Christopher Buccafusco, Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
  • Brian Caplan, Member & Partner, Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt LLC
  • Alisa Coleman, COO, ABKCO, and Chair, Mechanical Licensing Collective
  • Dr. E. Michael Harrington, Professor in Music Copyright and Intellectual Property, Berklee College of Music
  • Moderator Colman Ragan, NYIPLA President
  • Moderator Kathleen McCarthy, NYIPLA Immediate Past President


Coordinated by the NYIPLA Presidents' Forum Project Team:

Colman Ragan, Jeffrey Butler, Michael Johnson, Kathleen McCarthy, Jeremy King, and Joshua Weigensberg