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A century and a half ago, Horace Greeley told young people to go west — and then more or less stayed put to edit the New York Tribune. Since then, New York City has been at the center of the publishing world. And even as the Internet turns that world upside down, it is clear that this is still very much a publishing town — and a good place to be if you are a lawyer working in the industry. “Most of the publishing houses have Web sites, and a growing number are also involved in e-commerce,” said Kevin Goering, a media lawyer and partner at Coudert Brothers, and chairman of the New York State Bar Committee on Media Law. For lawyers, that means more opportunity than ever. Even as large companies consolidate — witness the recent AOL-Time Warner merger — new fields are opening up as established publishers go on-line and new start-ups enter the fray. But while the Internet is clearly a hot area for the industry’s lawyers, it is by no means the only show in town. “In the traditional media, there is always a demand for both in-house lawyers and outside counsel who have some expertise in libel, privacy, copyright, trademark law, things like that,” said Mr. Goering. “There is more opportunity now because of the Internet, but I think there has been a steady demand [in general].” “I would say publishing is a big growth area,” said Dori Ann Hanswirth, a partner and media litigation specialist at Squadron, Ellenoff, Plesent & Sheinfeld. “The publishing industry still encompasses everything that it used to, only now you have the Internet. I don’t see any shrinkage in the print media. Certainly people still read newspapers and they still read books. And now, they go to the Internet, too.” Not surprisingly, large publishers have been building up their in-house legal staffs to handle that broadening workload — and, especially, to cut the costs associated with going to outside firms, said Ann Israel, president of the Ann Israel & Associates recruiting firm. “Some of the publishing companies have beefed up their legal departments, and I think that at many, the in-house legal departments are almost mirroring full-service firms.” Mr. Goering agrees that in-house departments have grown. But, he added, those publishers often go outside when involved in larger cases — especially mergers and acquisitions, which tend to be handled by the firms that specialize in such transactions, rather than by media and publishing-oriented firms. FLEXIBILITY REQUIRED In addition to the big companies, new niche publishers are also fueling demand. In their initial stages of development, these smaller players usually do not hire full-time lawyers, which increases opportunities for lawyers at law firms, observers said. The exception to that rule seems to be the startup Internet publishers. “They are attracting so much capital, and they have so many and varied legal issues facing them, that they tend to hire lawyers fairly early on in their evolution,” said Mr. Goering. Helene Godin, former senior counsel in books and home entertainment at Readers Digest, and currently a partner at Wolff & Godin, said that working with Internet publishers that are just getting started requires flexibility, especially in terms of payment. One company, for example, recently offered to compensate her firm with an equity interest, rather than cash — an offer that was turned down. But because there are no established standard approaches to the business, “you have to look at yourself as an entrepreneur. You have to figure out where the future is, and pick your prospects. I think that in this world of entrepreneurs, lawyers have to be entrepreneurs, too,” Ms. Godin said. Beyond the basics of business, publishers also have to deal with content, which commands a growing amount of attention from industry lawyers. One recent complication involves “the interplay of copyright laws and the rights of publicity,” said Squadron Ellenoff’s Ms. Hanswirth. “We are seeing a lot of cases where simply getting permission from a copyright owner to use a photograph has been held to not be sufficient, and the use of an image of a famous person might independently give rise to some kind of liability.” She points to a case from last year in which a publisher had permission to alter stills from the movie “Tootsie” for a fashion spread. However, said Ms. Hanswirth, actor Dustin Hoffman sued the publication, saying that his right of publicity had been violated, and won. “That type of use, to most of us, had for years been thought to be a perfectly fine editorial use of somebody’s image, she said. “That’s just one of the new areas that lawyers who deal with publishing are more and more concerned about.” INTERNET COMPLICATIONS The Internet, of course, only complicates such matters — largely because it is “uncharted legal territory” added Ms. Hanswirth. “The Internet has become a sub-specialty all by itself.” “The Internet has presented us with new problems no one knows how to resolve,” observed Phil Cowan, managing partner of Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard. “It’s going to take time before new laws are written. A phonograph record, for example, was not classified as a piece of music until after the Beatles broke up. That’s how long it took for the law to catch up with technology. Whose rights trump whose in an Internet situation? What will the law be when it gets to the Supreme Court? All we can do is estimate. Our opinions don’t amount to much until the Supreme Court speaks.” CONTINUOUS EVOLUTION As the publishing industry and laws evolve, media lawyers will have to keep evolving along with it. Kenneth Swezey, a partner and Internet specialist at Cowan DeBaets initially took a job with an established firm where he specialized in publishing law, and then segued into new media, working with clients on licensing CD-ROMs. “Before I knew it, I was involved with digital delivery to the Internet,” he said. Mr. Swezey said that his traditional publishing background gives him a unique perspective that allowed him to make authors and publishers comfortable with new media. Now, Mr. Swezey’s clients include publishers and household-name authors, all of whom want a piece of the Internet pie. His job is to make sure their legal rights are guarded in this new electronic age. The problem is that no one quite knows what that means. But Mr. Swezey — and his colleagues in publishing — are working to find out. Peter Haapaniemi is a magazine writer who has covered technology and business management for Andersen Consulting, Unisys, and Chief Executive Magazine. Bob Weinstein has written 12 books about careers, including “I Hate My Boss!” (Mcgraw-Hill). He also writes “Tech Watch,” a weekly, syndicated career column. ( This article first appeared in the May/June edition of New York Lawyer magazine.)

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