UH Moment

UH Moment: ‘The Law of Rock and Roll’

It’s only the Law and Rock and Roll to one UH Professor, but he likes it. Here’s this week’s UH Moment.

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UH Law Professor Michael Olivas

University of Houston Law Center professor Michael Olivas is an immigration scholar and a higher education scholar.

He’s also a music fan.

 “Van Morrison, Neil Young, the Beatles, classic Dylan,” Olivas said. “And also Bruce Springsteen, the one who’s still making fresh music.” 

Olivas has combined his love of law and music to create a little ditty called “The Law of Rock n Roll,” a series of radio segments about the business and legal aspects of the music and entertainment industry. 

The segments begin with introductory music from The Who (“A Legal Matter,” appropriately),  followed by stories of tax deductible leather pants, the rights of backup singers, noise ordinances and all points in between. 

“There is ‘Be My Little Ringtone,’ which is about completely new technologies– like ringtones– which didn’t exist, so who gets the money?” he said. “There also is ‘Death Be Not Proud,’ which is about what happens when (rock stars) die, who owns their likeness.  Last year, the biggest earner was Michael Jackson.”

The segment airs on KANW, 89.1 FM–Albuquerque, New Mexico’s National Public Radio affiliate.  Other segments have featured stories on the attempts to deport John Lennon and The Law of Elvis.

“There is a famous case where Aretha Franklin didn’t show up on Broadway. She had to pay damages. I did a segment on who pays when you have to cancel a concert,” he said. “Elvis died and was sued because he cancelled three or four concerts (laughs). After he’s dead he’s being sued.”

The consummate rock and roll fan, Olivas also offers continuing legal education courses on rock and roll and the law.

“I’ve always been interested in the business and legal issues that make the work available, that secure the copyright, that drive the formats,” he said. “It’s that transformative magic that occurs in order for us to listen.”

Michael Olivas, your Rock and Roll Law Professor, is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.  I’m Marisa Ramirez

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