When you walk in to Matt Williams’s office you’ll notice hyper-realism paintings and decorative items that give off reflections. Light bounces off mirrors, shiny lamps and paintings of metal telephone booths and car bumpers. The pieces reveal Matt’s personality and approach to legal practice. Thoughtfulness, creativity, and reflection are all words that describe him. Perhaps that’s not surprising for someone who was a Religious Studies major in college.
When Matt is not in his office he also searches for space to reflect, like on the Pigeon River in North Carolina (where he grew up) fly fishing. An old hobby of his is collecting magazines from the 1960s and 1970s from weeks when historically important events – such as the JFK assassination or the Cuban Missile Crisis – occurred. He finds that recalling such events helps put the daily squabbles of litigation in perspective.
Matt is also an avid movie buff. Before deciding on going to law school he had delusions of becoming a screenwriter. Lucky for him, he now gets to represent real screenwriters, directors and other creative people and companies.
Matthew Williams’ practice focuses primarily on civil litigation in federal courts with an emphasis on disputes relating to entertainment, intellectual property, and technology law. He has extensive experience defending film, music and publishing industry clients against copyright infringement and implied-in-fact contract claims. Mr. Williams also has litigated numerous cases for copyright owner plaintiffs.
A significant portion of Mr. Williams’ practice also includes representation of clients in administrative and regulatory proceedings relating to copyright and communications policy and in transactional matters involving online consumer contracts, such as privacy policies and terms of service.
- Preparing amicus curiae brief for The Copyright Alliance in the U.S. Supreme Court case Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com.
- Representing hip hop artist in a right of publicity and Lanham Act case against a music publisher and management company in the Southern District of New York.
- Representing songwriters against companies that used an unauthorized adaptation of a hit song in an advertising campaign.
- Representing the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the Entertainment Software Association in the 2018 Copyright Office rule-making proceeding regarding proposed exemptions to an anti-circumvention provision of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Mr. Williams has been involved in the triennial proceedings for over a decade.
- Representing over one hundred plaintiffs in a Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act case against the Republic of Iran, alleging liability for acts of state sponsored terrorism.
- Obtained dismissal with prejudice of multiple copyright infringement claims in the Southern District of New York filed by photographers against music industry news websites.
- Obtained summary judgment based on an implied license defense for a health insurance industry client in a copyright action in the Eastern District of Virginia involving allegations of infringement of software code.
- Obtained summary judgment for hip-hop artist “Drake” based on fair use defense in a Southern District of New York case involving an allegedly infringing “sample” from a jazz album.
- Prevailed at trial in a Southern District of New York tortious interference of contract case for a music publisher against a rival publisher that caused a songwriter to breach a covenant not to sue by claiming copyright ownership of songs recorded by the rap group “Run-DMC.” Court awarded the client over $1.3 million in damages.
- Obtained summary judgment in the District of Maryland for defendants, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and director James Cameron, in a copyright case filed by a screenwriter who claimed that the multi-billion dollar grossing film Avatar infringed his scripts. Court awarded the defendants over $1.2 million in attorneys’ fees. Mr. Williams also successfully defended claims involving Avatar in the Central District of California and the Southern District of California.
- Filed friend of the court briefs on behalf of trade associations and performing rights organizations in numerous copyright cases, including: Viacom v. YouTube (2nd Circuit); Fox Television Stations v. FilmOn X (9th Circuit); American Broad. Cos. v. Aereo (U.S. Supreme Court and 2nd Circuit); Cartoon Network v. CSC Holdings (i.e., "Cablevision") (U.S. Supreme Court and 2nd Circuit); Vernor v. Autodesk (9th Circuit); MDY Industries v. Blizzard Entertainment (9th Circuit); Flava Works v. Gunter (7th Circuit); Righthaven v. Hoehn (9th Circuit); Authors Guild v. Google (2nd Circuit); and Oracle v. Google (Fed. Circuit).
Represented the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Entertainment Software Association, and the Association of American Publishers during Copyright Office processes resulting in the transmission to Congress of the 2017 “Report of the Register of Copyrights on Section 12 of Title 17.”
Successfully moved to dismiss an Eastern District of New York right of privacy case filed against director Morgan Spurlock on First Amendment grounds relating to the use of the plaintiff’s likeness in the documentary film Supersize Me.
Defeated a motion to dismiss and counterclaims in a Central District of California antitrust case of first impression regarding markets in defensive registrations for internet domain names and the creation of new top-level domains (TLDs), resulting in a favorable settlement.
Obtained pre-discovery summary judgment for Universal City Studios and director Ang Lee in the District Court for the District of Columbia in a copyright infringement case targeting the film Brokeback Mountain.
Successfully defended an online music streaming service against copyright infringement claims filed in the Eastern District of New York by a music publisher.
Professional, Business and civic Affiliations
- Former Co-Chair, DC Chapter of Copyright Society of the USA
- Member, Recording Academy
Other Career Experience
- Practitioner-in-Residence, American University Washington College of Law (2010-2011).
Courses taught: International and Comparative Copyright Law; Intellectual Property Seminar.
- January 8, 2019
- July 6, 2017
- May 31, 2017
- Christine Lepera, Jeffrey Movit and Matthew Williams Mentioned in Multiple Publications for MSJ Win for DrakeMay 31, 2017
- August 2015
- July 2015
- July 15, 2015
- April 15, 2015
- November 19, 2013
- September 27, 2012
- April 27, 2012
- December 6, 2011
- May 11, 2010
- Mr. Williams has published law review articles in respected periodicals, including Berkeley Journal of Law and Technology, UCLA Entertainment Law Review, and Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal.
- He has also published articles in National Law Journal, Los Angeles Lawyer, Network Computing, Intellectual Property and Technology Law Journal, Cinema Journal, Landslide, and M/E Insights.
Events & Speaking Engagements
- District of Columbia
- New York
- U.S. District Court
- District of Columbia
- District of Maryland
- Eastern District of New York
- Southern District of New York
- U.S. Court of Appeals
- Second Circuit
- Fourth Circuit
- Seventh Circuit
- Ninth Circuit
- District of Columbia Circuit
- Federal Circuit
- U.S. Supreme Court
American University, Washington College of Law, J.D.; Order of the Coif; magna cum laude
Guilford College, B.A.