Attorney Ron Major has been involved in the field of copyright law for twenty years. Among the wider public, the concept of “copyright” has taken on the connotation of being directly associated with artists and/or artistic works. As true as this is, it should be noted from the outset that in our modern, developing world, the field of copyright has acquired a more significant foothold, specifically in "non-artistic" and certainly commercial disciplines. Expressions of people’s ideas, when applied in procedures and/or applications with commercial significance, are subject to copyright. When disputes of this kind reach court, we quickly recognize that “art”, as we are used to seeing it, is absent. What we do see is, for all intents and purposes, a commercial dispute covered by the laws of copyright.
There are, of course, many other aspects and facets to copyright apart from artists and people with commercial ideas. For the purposes of this introduction, however, it will be sufficient if at this stage we understand that this is a complex field in which artistic works (including musical, literary and illustrative works), while “sexy” mainstays of copyright law - are not its sole focus. As previously mentioned, there are commercial sides to copyright law as well as others which, due to limited space, we will not delve into here.
Copyright: Whether it be for a melody, for an idea for using DNA to identify a dog that has soiled the sidewalk, for a process to produce special ceramic tiles (where such process is not eligible for patent protection) or for a literary work – these all are governed by the Copyright Law and are subject to the same tests.
Ron Major has been involved with copyright since he first started practicing law, although in the beginning he focused on purely commercial disputes. Ron Major’s “romance” with the “artistic mainstay” of the discipline, as described earlier, began in 1994 when he was elected and appointed legal counsel for “IUPA” (the Israeli Union of Performing Artists), headed by artist and actor Shaika Levi (from the “HaGashash Hachiver” trio). Adv. Major began his term at a very sensitive time for IUPA and its members, Israeli artists. Until then it was customary for an artist who appeared, for example, on television, not to be paid, but rather the exposure he received from appearing was considered payment…! In other words, seasoned television producers - to whom it didn't even occur to pay artists appearing on their programs – were just a step away from demanding that the artists themselves pay for the PR they received from appearing on their programs!
The IUPA chairperson, together with Adv. Major, led a process which was to dramatically change history. Firm and patient negotiations were entered into with the concessionaires of Channel 2 (Keshet, Reshet and the now defunct Telad), the Broadcasting Authority and the major theater managers. This process was completed within less than two years and contracts were signed between these parties and the IUPA, to the benefit of Israel's artists. Although the success of this process did not diminish the gap between big stars and artists starting out their careers, the abusive and exploitative treatment - which until then had characterized all matters relating to remuneration for artists - ceased to exist. Fair minimum wages were set for days of shooting, acting, voice-overs, dancing, etc., as well as rates and an obligation to pay which, since then, have not been denied to the artist. Reality no longer dictates that the artist “must be grateful for an invitation to appear on television.” There is, of course, nothing wrong with saying thanks, being that it is the cultured and polite thing to do, but it is by no means an alternative to payment. Payment that is appropriate and not challenged!
Next, major artists began to request that Adv. Major manage their careers. The first was Aviv Geffen, a young, wild, groundbreaking artist, in the days before “Dor Mezuyan,” who convinced Adv. Major to accept the job of being his personal and professional manager. Major’s polite refusals - including his explanation that he had never managed the career of a young artist before - proved futile. Geffen insisted. Eventually Major took on the job and the rest is history. Adv. Major managed Geffen’s career for six years, at a critical period which saw the establishment of Aviv Geffen as a superstar, his acceptance into the mainstream, (including the historic reconciliation with Yitzchak Rabin) and the sowing of the seeds for his transition into the international arena.
The “Hed Artzi” company at that time never forgot Adv. Major’s part in the contract they were compelled to sign with Aviv Geffen. It was completely different from contracts that were customary at the time for stars, and also signified a breakthrough in the field.
In addition to managing Aviv Geffen’s career, Adv. Major managed the careers of several other artists, most notably, (in alphabetical order): Aki Avni, Miki Gavrielov, Josie Katz and Naomi Shemer.
In addition to the professional management he provided to the artists under his care, his clients also benefited from a structured legal framework and total loyalty and trust. Upon entering the third millennium, Adv. Major’s strategic decision to focus on his legal practice and cease managing artists was received sadly by his clients, as he guided and directed them in choosing a new manager in his stead. (Adv. Major never demanded payment for handing over such huge stars, even though their contracts allowed him to.)
Alongside his unique experience in managing artists – including A-listers – Adv. Major became well acquainted with all the professional secrets of this creative and delicate field. This knowledge and experience, recognition of the “ins and outs” and all the “tricks” of the trade, coupled with his expertise in the field of copyright law – give Adv. Major’s clients a distinct advantage, from both sides of the table. Producers and managers who wish to sign a client or an artist who wishes to sign a contract with a producer, concessionaire, television program or record company, benefit from Adv. Major’s profound and comprehensive knowledge in the field.
In an era when major stars are often forced to file large-scale lawsuits against their managers and at the same time, producers have the power to freeze the careers of successful artists for intolerable periods of time "based on their contracts"– while demanding large sums of money to "release" them from such contracts, Adv. Major’s professionalism, reputation and integrity are of added importance, whether at the negotiation table or in court.
As mentioned earlier, if involvement in "show biz" is the icing on the cake, then handling “regular” commercial clients exposed to key copyright issues is the cake itself. Adv. Ron Major represents individual and commercial clients in copyright infringement disputes that reach court and his commercial experience (in a field which, ultimately, involves primarily money) further enhances his representation of “classic” artists under his care.