It was an epic “whodunit” in the publishing world. Who was the enigmatic tweeter who led to the disclosure that J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, had penned the pseudonymous mystery novel “The Cuckoo’s Calling”?
Yesterday, London law firm Russells confirmed that the closely guarded secret was accidentally revealed by one of its lawyers, Chris Gossage, who represents Rowling.
According to the firm, Gossage had confidentially told his wife’s best friend, who in turn tweeted the news to a reviewer at the Sunday Times.
Russells yesterday released a statement apologizing “unreservedly for the disclosure caused by one of our partners.” The firm said that the “leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither Rowling, her agent nor her publisher were in any way involved.”
Rowling then released a statement of her own: “To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced.”
Since the disclosure, sales of the book have skyrocketed; publisher Little Brown was reported by the New York Times to be printing 300,000 more books to meet demand. A Little Brown spokesman, Mark Hutchinson, declined to comment yesterday by e-mail.
In the Courts
Silverstein Denied Right to Seek $3.5 Billion From Airlines
Real estate developer Larry Silverstein can’t seek $3.5 billion from airlines whose planes were hijacked by terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center’s twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, a federal judge ruled.
Silverstein, who leased the skyscrapers about two months before they were destroyed, already collected $4.1 billion from insurers and can’t collect twice under New York law, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ruled yesterday in a courtroom less than a mile and a half from the World Trade Center site.
Silverstein’s World Trade Center Properties LLC in 2008 sued United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL:US), American Airlines and its parent AMR Corp. (AAMRQ:US), claiming their negligence led to the destruction of the towers.
The company, which rebuilt the destroyed 7 World Trade Center and is rebuilding three other towers on the site, argued that the insurance accord didn’t bar it from seeking additional damages in civil cases because the payout didn’t correspond to specific types of economic losses, such as replacement costs for the buildings or lost rent from tenants. Hellerstein disagreed.
“There’s complete correspondence,” Hellerstein said. When such a link is made between an insurance payout and a specific type of loss, collecting on that same type of loss is barred under New York law, he said.
“We did not believe that the plaintiff could be permitted any further compensation and we are pleased the judge ruled in our favor,” Christen David, a spokeswoman for United, said in an e-mail.
“We are gratified by the judge’s decision,” Mike Trevino, an American Airlines spokesman, said in a statement.
“We are deeply disappointed in today’s decision,” Bud Perrone, a spokesman for Silverstein Properties, said in a statement. “While we respect Judge Hellerstein, we believe his ruling on this issue, and on prior issues, to be in error and intend to file an immediate appeal. We will not rest until we have exhausted every option to assure that the aviation industry’s insurers pay their fair share toward the complete rebuilding of the World Trade Center.”
The case is In Re September 11 Litigation, 21-mc-00101, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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Diller’s Vimeo Seeks to End Vivendi Music Copyright Lawsuit
Vimeo, the video-sharing website owned by Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI:US), says federal law protects it against a Vivendi SA (VIV) copyright lawsuit over music that includes recordings by the Beatles and the Beach Boys.
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams heard arguments yesterday on Vimeo’s motion to dismiss the case.
Vivendi labels including Capitol Records sued Vimeo in 2009 claiming that the website “induces and encourages its users to upload” copyrighted videos and songs it wasn’t authorized to display. The songs include the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA” and Radiohead’s “High and Dry.” Users post homemade videos in which they lip-synch to the infringed songs, the labels said in the complaint.
Vimeo, based in New York, denied infringing copyrights and said that it’s protected by the safe-harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. The safe-harbor rule applies if a site removes infringing material when informed about it.
“Whenever they sent us a DMCA notice we took down the video expeditiously,” Robert Raskopf, a lawyer for Vimeo with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, told the judge. “This is an ambush. No DMCA ever came. They just filed.”
Vimeo, which has more than 14 million registered users, gets its revenue from subscription fees and advertising.
The labels said that Vimeo can’t be protected by law because it knew that the uploaded videos contained unlicensed copyrighted material and that it benefited financially from them.
“Vimeo knew it wasn’t licensed; they talked about getting licenses but didn’t want to spend the money,” Russell Frackman, a lawyer for the labels with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, said to the judge. “They get paid directly from advertising pages that have our material.”
The labels asked the judge to deny Vimeo’s motion and grant them partial summary judgment. If Abrams rejects the motions, the case may go to trial by jury.
Other lawyers from Quinn Emanuel working on the case includes partner Rachel Herrick Kassabian and of counsel Jessica Rose.
The case is Capitol Records LLC v. Vimeo LLC, 1:09-cv-10101, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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Willkie Farr, Kaye Scholer on Men’s Wearhouse Acquisition
Men’s Wearhouse Inc. (MW:US), the menswear retailer that ousted its founder last month, agreed to buy the Joseph Abboud clothing brand for $97.5 million in cash as the chain seeks to offer exclusive brands.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP represented the retailer, while Kaye Scholer LLP represented private-equity firm J.W. Childs Associates LP, the owner of the brand, JA Holding Inc.
Willkie partners Steven Seidman and Laura Delanoy worked on the deal. Seidman led the Willkie team that advised the Men’s Wearhouse board of directors when they fired founder George Zimmer as executive chairman over strategy disagreements on June 19.
From Kaye Scholer representing J.W. Childs are partners Stephen Koval, Laurie Abramowitz and Jeff London.
The purchase reunites Men’s Wearhouse Chief Creative Director Joseph Abboud with the brand he created and gives the retailer an exclusive label to sell through its more than 1,100 stores.
The acquisition also includes JA Holding’s U.S. tailored clothing factory that employs 450 workers. The deal is expected to be completed in the third quarter, Houston-based Men’s Wearhouse said yesterday in a statement.
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Law Firm Moves
Orrick Herrington Hires White Collar Lawyer for New York Office
Guy Singer joined Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP as a partner in its white collar and corporate investigations practice group, resident in New York.
Singer previously was head of the government investigations and white collar group for the New York office of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. Before that, he served as a prosecutor for more than 13 years at the U.S. Justice Department in the fraud section as an assistant state attorney at the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office and as a special assistant U.S. attorney.
“Deepening our white collar bench, particularly in New York and Washington, D.C., has been one of the firm’s highest priorities,” said Walt Brown, Orrick’s managing director of business units.
Singer defends leading public companies, as well as individuals, in white collar and corporate compliance matters, the firm said.
Arent Fox Adds Lawyers in Washington and New York Offices
Arent Fox LLP hired two real estate lawyers in its Washington office and three litigators in its New York office.
Real estate finance partner David Martin and counsel Patrick A. Nickler previously practiced with Patton Boggs LLP. Martin, who focuses on commercial real estate finance, acquisition and disposition transactions, corporate and banking mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, commercial lending, and real estate restructuring, has been an associate at Arent.
Mark Katz, the firm’s chairman, said in a statement that Martin’s “insight and first-rate practice will be a great addition to the firm’s robust real estate finance, joint venture, and transactional capabilities.”
Nickler focuses on real estate finance, loan workouts, restructurings, and real estate acquisition and development. In addition, he represents landlords and tenants in the leasing of office and retail space, Katz said.
Additionally, litigation and arbitration partners Howard Graff and Nikol Gruning Thompson are joining the firm in its New York office.
Graff and Thompson previously practiced at Dickstein Shapiro LLP, where Graff was co-leader of the firm’s business litigation practice and previously the New York managing partner. Litigation associate Courtney E. Topic is joining as well.
“Howard and Nikol are great additions to our already strong litigation and international arbitration abilities,” said complex litigation practice leader Stephen G. Larson.
Golenbock Eiseman hires Litigator from Brown Rudnick
Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe LLP hired Martin S. Siegel as a partner in its litigation/alternative dispute resolution and complex business fraud litigation practice groups.
Siegel’s practice concentrates on complex commercial, business, securities and bankruptcy litigation, according to a statement from the firm. He previously was a partner at Brown Rudnick LLP for 30 years.
“Marty is a valuable addition to our firm,” said Jeffrey Golenbock, one of the firm’s founding partners. “His deep well of knowledge and practice enhances our firm’s offerings in the business and securities litigation practice areas.”
Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe, based in New York, has about 50 lawyers.
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