Students Earn Top Honors at Grammys Writing Competition


Through prestigious contests and impactful clinical work with popular artists, UCLA Law students seize many opportunities to make a mark in music law.

UCLA Law students have long dominated the Recording Academy’s Annual Entertainment Law Initiative Writing Competition, the nation’s premier contest for students in music law. The results underscore the strength of UCLA Law’s Ziffren Institute for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law, which consistently ranks as the No. 1 entertainment law program in the country. The competition is one of several ways that UCLA Law students can make a mark in music law even before graduation.

In 2019, student Cameron Berkowitz ’19 scored top honors for his essay “Streaming in the Free Market: Releasing Songwriters from the Compulsory Music License.”

UCLA Law students then swept the top two prizes in 2020. Christopher Chiang ’20 won first place for his paper, “Copyright Protection Designed for Music’s Illusory Innovation Space: A Sliding Scale Framework of Broad to Thin Protection.” The essay examines copyright and policy issues arising from high-profile disputes over authorship of popular tracks by Pharrell Williams, Led Zeppelin and Katy Perry. And Graham Fenton ’20 was a runner-up for his paper, “Taming the Ticket Market: How a Closed Ticketing System Can Beat Back Scalpers and Recapture Lost Revenue.” Winners receive substantial scholarships and admission to VIP events surrounding Grammys weekend in Los Angeles.

Students pursuing careers in music law also take part in the Ziffren Institute’s Music Industry Clinic. There, veteran music law attorneys and executives guide students as they represent independent artists, label owners and others. In a memorable 2019 case, the clinic represented Cheryl K as she negotiated to get her version of “Money (That’s What I Want)” on the Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack.

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