Christine Lepera focuses her practice on the entertainment and media industries as a litigator and strategic advisor. Christine is a co-chair of the Entertainment & IP Litigation Practice Group and member of the firm's Governing Board. 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. Christine has represented many leading entertainers and entertainment/media companies, including those mentioned in the representative matters below.
Marcus Gray, et al. v. Katy Perry, et al., United States District Court, Central District of California. As lead counsel for defense in this music infringement case involving the hit Katy Perry single “Dark Horse,” obtained a victorious and highly important reversal of a jury verdict on a motion for judgment as a matter of law. The district court granted defendants’ motion to overturn the jury verdict of infringement on the ground that Plaintiffs could not prove substantial similarity in the music at issue as a matter of law. The court held that the 2013 song “Dark Horse” did not copy any protectable expression from Plaintiffs’ Christian rap song “Joyful Noise,” and that any music in common constituted music building blocks that could not be monopolized by Plaintiffs. In this largely unprecedented decision, recognized as highly significant in the music industry, the court applied key copyright doctrines that are in place to protect all creators—including those who create music—from claims of infringement based on the use of unprotectable expression (March 2020).
Lukasz Gottwald p/k/a Dr. Luke, et al. v. Kesha Rose Sebert p/k/a Kesha, et al., Supreme Court of the State of New York. As lead counsel for plaintiffs, obtained a key summary judgment ruling in their favor in the ongoing defamation case against Kesha Sebert. In the ruling, the court determined, among other things, that Dr. Luke was a private, not public figure, and that Kesha’s statement to Lady Gaga about Dr. Luke was false and defamatory as a matter of law. The court also held that Plaintiffs had established, as a matter of law, that Kesha had breached her contract with Plaintiffs due to late royalty payments (February 2020).
Estate of James Oscar Smith, et al. v. Cash Money Records, Inc., et al., United States District Court, Southern District of New York. In a seminal case involving the doctrine of fair use in a music copyright infringement case, obtained an appellate ruling from the Second Circuit for clients Aubrey Drake Graham, p/k/a Drake, Universal Music Group, and others, affirming the district court’s grant of summary judgment for defendants based on fair use. The appellate court agreed with the trial court that Plaintiff’s claim of infringement against Drake’s song “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” (from Drake’s album Nothing Was The Same) for use of a 1982 spoken word piece entitled, “Jimmy Smith Rap,” could not succeed, and was properly dismissed, on the ground of fair use (February 2020).
- Osama Ahmed Fahmy v. Jay-Z (aka Shawn Carter), et al., United States District Court, Central District of California. As lead counsel for defense, obtained judgment as a matter of law, following jury trial, on behalf of all Defendants, dismissing Plaintiff's copyright infringement claim that Jay Z and Timbaland's song "Big Pimpin" infringed his alleged copyright in an Egyptian composition (October 2015).
- Reach Music Publishing, Inc., et al. United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Won bench trial on counterclaim for tortious interference against Reach Music, for inducing writer of Run-D.M.C. compositions to breach contract with Protoons, Inc. (March 2015).
- Ultra International Music Publishing, LLC and Ultra Records, LLC v. Michelle Phan, United States District Court, Central District of California. Represent Ultra in asserting claims of copyright infringement against Defendant in connection with, inter alia, Defendant's YouTube channel (2015).
- Raymond L. Jones v. Goliath Artists, Inc., et al., United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Represent certain Defendants in defense of claim of infringement involving Eminem's song "Rap God" (2015).
- Richard Sambora v. Nikki Lund, et al., Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles. Represent Plaintiff in claims against Defendants for various tortious acts (2015).
- Will Loomis v. Jessica Cornish p/k/a Jessie J, et al., United States District Court, Central District of California. Obtain summary judgment for UK artist “Jessie J” and other defendants in connection with alleged copyright infringement over song “Domino” (2013-2014).
- Linda Elaine Good, et al. v. Tahliah Barnett, et al., United States District Court, Central District of California. Obtain dismissal of trademark-related TRO/preliminary injunction application against UK artist f/k/a/ “Twigs” and other defendants (2014).
- Represent Aubrey Drake Graham p/k/a “Drake” in connection with copyright and trademark litigation (2015).
- Obtained dismissal of right of privacy and related claims on behalf of TV production company and media defendants in connection with reality television program.
- Represent prominent developer of Cut the Rope games in privacy litigation (2015).
- Represent prominent independent music publishing company Round Hill in copyright related litigation involving "Spacehog" catalogue (2015).
- Represent prominent independent music publishing company Songs Music Publishing in copyright and related litigation (2014).
- Represent Emmy Award winning documentary film production company and other defendants in connection with trademark infringement claim involving media works (2014).
- Represent The Black Keys in copyright/Lanham Act litigations (2012-2013).
- Represent the band LIVE in connection with trademark and contractual disputes with former member (2012-2013).
- Lukasz Gottwald p/k/a Dr. Luke, et al. v. Christina S. Jones p/k/a Chrissy, et al., United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Won judgment on behalf of Plaintiff's that their song “Tik Tok” is not infringing of Jones’ composition.
- Lukasz Gottwald p/k/a Dr. Luke, et al. v. David M. Bellamy, Homer Howard Bellamy, and Bellamy Brothers Music, United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division (2011). Successfully represented composers Dr. Luke and Max Martin in copyright related litigation involving Britney Spears’ “Hold It Against Me.
- Clement Brown, Jr. v. DeAndre Cortez Way p/k/a Soulja Boy, et al., United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division. Won motion to dismiss case (2011) involving trademark infringement claims against Soulja Boy and other defendants.
- Jay Brian Ballard and Kim Jones v. Mary J. Blige, et al., United States District Court for the Central District of California (2010). Successfully represented Mary J. Blige and other defendants in copyright infringement litigation involving Blige’s “Take Me As I Am.”
- Anger Management & Entertainment, Inc. v. Gregory Tribett, et al., Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Obtained summary judgment (2010) for the band Mudvayne on a breach of fiduciary duty claim against the band’s ex-manager.
- BMS Entertainment/Heat Music LLC, et al. v. Christopher Bridges, et al., United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Obtained jury verdict (2006) on behalf of recording artists and songwriters Christopher Bridges p/k/a Ludacris and Kanye West, and music publisher EMI April Music in music copyright infringement case involving the 2003 hit single “Stand Up” written by Ludacris and Kanye West, which appears on Ludacris’ album “Chicken-n-Beer.”
- Microhits Music Corp., et al. v. Arista Records, Inc., et al., United States District Court for the Central District of California. Won summary judgment (2006) on behalf of songwriters and performing and recording artists Antwan Patton and Andre Benjamin, p/k/a Outkast in a declaratory judgment action in which plaintiffs claimed joint copyright ownership in certain of Outkast’s recordings and compositions on their multi-platinum, award-winning album entitled “Speakerboxxx/Love Below.”
- R. Kelly, et al. v. Shawn Carter, et al., Supreme Court of New York, New York County. Won summary judgment (2005) on behalf of Shawn Carter p/k/a Jay Z and his production company, Marcy Projects Productions, on tortious interference claims asserted against them by Robert Kelly p/k/a R. Kelly based upon Kelly’s alleged improper termination from the artists’ “Best of Both Worlds” Tour in 2004.
Honors & Awards
- “Best Lawyer, Litigation - Intellectual Property,” Best Lawyers in America (2020)
- "Women in Music," Billboard (2016, 2018, and 2019)
- "Legal Impact Report," Variety (2018 and 2019)
- "Top Music Lawyers," Billboard (2016-2019)
- “Top 5% of lawyers in New York,” New York Super Lawyers (2006-2019)
- "Power Lawyer," The Hollywood Reporter (2016-2018)
- "Next Generation Lawyer" in Intellectual Property - Copyright, Legal 500 (2018)
- "Recommended Attorney" in Intellectual Property - Copyright, Legal 500 (2017 & 2018)
- "Litigator of the Week," The American Lawyer (Oct 22, 2015)
- “50 Attorneys of Note in the Music Biz” Billboard Super Lawyers (2014)
- AV® Preeminent™ Rating, Martindale-Hubbell
Professional, Business and civic Affiliations
- MSK Governing Board
- Past Chair, ABA Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries (Chair Term 2011-2013)
- Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
- Fellow, American Bar Foundation
- Editorial Advisory Board, Media & Entertainment Law360 (2013)
- Board of Editors, Entertainment Law and Finance publication
- AAA Panel of Arbitrators
- Mediator for the New York Supreme Court, Commercial Division and the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York
- New York Bar Association, Committee on Intellectual Property of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section
- Former Vice Chair, Copyright Committee of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO)
- Copyright Society
- Member, New York Women in Film and Television
- NARAS, New York Chapter
- Billboard , May 26, 2020
- March 17, 2020
- Billboard , February 18, 2020
- December 12, 2019
- August 26, 2019
- August 15, 2019
- May 29, 2019
- April 11, 2019
- Christine Lepera Featured in Billboard's "Women in Music 2018: The Most Powerful Executives in the Industry"December 6, 2018
- December 3, 2018
- October 19, 2018
- May 30, 2018
- April 17, 2018
- April 4, 2018
- December 8, 2017
- October 26, 2017
- July 17, 2017
- May 31, 2017
- May 31, 2017
- Christine Lepera, Jeffrey Movit and Matthew Williams Mentioned in Multiple Publications for MSJ Win for DrakeMay 31, 2017
- April 26, 2017
- March 1, 2017
- January 20, 2017
- Christine Lepera Featured in Billboard's "Women In Music 2016: The 100 Most Powerful Executives" listDecember 5, 2016
- October 20, 2016
- September 2, 2016
- August 3, 2016
- July 29, 2016
- Russell Frackman and Christine Lepera Named to Billboard's 2016 List of Top Lawyers in the Music IndustryJuly 15, 2016
- June 24, 2016
- April 20, 2016
- February 19, 2016
- February 18, 2016
- February 2, 2016
- October 22, 2015
- October 21, 2015
- November 2014
- March 17, 2014
- December 31, 2012
- November 1, 2012
- Lepera Analyzes the Duties Owed by an Artist's Executive Team and the Myriad Claims that Can Ensue in the NY Law JournalSeptember 11, 2012
- March 5, 2012
- January 3, 2012
- October 10, 2011
- The 2011 Legal 500 USA Guide Recognizes MSK Attorneys and Intellectual Property and Tax Practice Groups Among the Nation's BestJune 9, 2011
- October 1, 2010
- October 5, 2009
- November 21, 2008
- March 10, 2008
- New York Law Journal, September 2012
- Building Your Artist's Brand as a BusinessInternational Association of Entertainment Lawyers, February 2012
- International Association of Entertainment Lawyers, January/February 2012
- March 20, 2020
- September 11, 2012
Events & Speaking Engagements
- November 18, 2019
- November 14, 2019
- August 27-28, 2019
- Christine is a commentator and author on relevant entertainment subjects, and speaks regularly at industry conferences and bar association events, such as South by Southwest, The Cutting Edge, CMJ Music, and MIDEM:
- November 16, 2018
- November 10, 2018
- October 5, 2018
- September 11, 2018
- 28th Annual North American Entertainment, Sports & Intellectual Property Law SummitNovember 11, 2016
- Mondo.NYC 2016September 16, 2016
- June 16, 2016
- The Use and Misuse of Experts in Copyright CasesNovember 2015
- October 2015
- New Music Seminar, SpeakerJune 2015
- American Bar Association, SpeakerMay 2015
- Emerging Issues in Entertainment LawMarch 2015
- New Music Seminar, SpeakerJune 2014
- New York County Lawyer's Association, FacultyArt Law: Litigation and Dispute Resolution InstituteDecember 2013
- North American Entertainment Sports and IP Law Summit, SpeakerNovember 2013
- Nashville ABA Forum CLE, CMJ Music Marathon, SpeakerOctober 2013
- Americana Music Festival & Conference, SpeakerSeptember 2013
- The Future of Gaming: Litigation and Business Issues For Games Across All PlatformsAugust 2013
- American Bar Association Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries' Fourth Annual International Legal Symposium on the World of Music, Film, Television and Sports - Program Chair/SpeakerAdvanced Issues and Case Law Update in Entertainment LitigationMay 2013
- NYSBA Dispute Resolution Section and Federal Litigation Section Joint CLE Program and Fall Meeting, SpeakerTurning off the Client, Counsel or Decision Maker - "Don't Be That Guy or Gal"October 2012
- Recent Developments in the Publishing IndustryOctober 2012
- Trending & Hot Topics in The War Zone O/K/A the Litigation World of the Entertainment IndustrySeptember 2012
- The Third Annual International Legal Symposium on the World of Music, Film, Television and Sports at the ABA Forum on the Entertainment & Sports Industries, Speaker & ChairAdvanced Trademark, Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Issues in Entertainment Law WorldwideMay 2012
- Building Your Artist Brand as a BusinessJanuary 2012
- The Second Annual International Symposium on the World of Music, Film, Television and Sports, ABA Forum on the Entertainment & Sports Industries, SpeakerAdvanced Trademark, Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Issues in Entertainment Law WorldwideApril 2011
- Creativity & The LawFebruary 2011
- Litigation v. MediationAugust 2010
- New York
- U.S. District Court
- Southern District of New York
- Eastern District of New York
- U.S. Court of Appeals
- Second Circuit
- Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Supreme Court
New York Law School, J.D.; summa cum laude
Drew University, B.A.; summa cum laude