Copyright guru dead

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer writer

Thursday, June 07, 2012

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A memorial service for Paul G Marshall, the legendary American entertainment lawyer who introduced international copyright to the Jamaican music industry in the 1960s, takes place today in New York City.

Top music figures who have been associated with Marshall over the years, including former culture minister, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, will attend the service at the Church of St John the Divine in Manhattan.

Billboard magazine recalled Marshall's career as one filled with "one music industry benchmark after another".

Entertainment mogul Chris Blackwell noted meeting him in 1964 while travelling to the United States with singer Millie Small, whose My Boy Lollipop had just made it to number five on the US charts.

Blackwell was seeking a major label connection. Marshall introduced him to Atlantic Records founders Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler and the deal was done. They remained friends until Marshall's passing on May 10, at the Aventura Hospital in Florida.

Marshall was closely associated with former Jamaica Prime Minister and head of West Indies Records Limited (WIRL), Edward Seaga, who invited him to assist with the drafting of the Jamaica's copyright legislation and the Motion Pictures Encouragement Act in the 1980s.

"He was of great assistance to me as a friend and a professional in helping to deal with artistes in the areas of performing and recording rights," said Seaga.

Marshall also had a close professional relationship with Grange, who was the government's culture boss in the 1980s.

She recalled she was in his office in New York City shortly after Bob Marley's death in 1981, when Stevie Wonder's manager called and told Marshall that the singer had just taken off to Jamaica.

Marshall urged her to hurry back to Jamaica and make arrangements for Wonder's stay which, eventually led to the superstar appearing on Reggae Sunsplash 1981 with the Third World band in a memorable tribute to Marley.

Wonder had met Marley in Jamaica when he performed with the Wailers at The Wonder Dream Concert on October 4, 1975, at the National Stadium. Wonder eventually recorded Master Blaster as tribute to Bob.

Marshall was also instrumental in working out copyright deals for a number of Jamaican artistes including Prince Buster, Jimmy Cliff and Ken Boothe in the 1960s. This was initiated by Seaga, under an arrangement which allowed the artistes/songwriters to collect royalties through the Social Development Commission (SDC). This arrangement continued until 1972 when the government changed.

Recently, Marshall was involved with legal arrangements for the promotion of Reggaeton in the United States.

An intellectual property/ copyright specialist, he had a history of heart and kidney problems but, despite the challenges, became one of the best known and most accomplished entertainment lawyers in the world.

He represented artistes such as Whitney Houston, Mary J Blige, Neil Diamond, MC Hammer, the Animals, KISS, LL Cool J and Lawrence Welk as well as chess grand master Bobby Fischer during his famous match with Boris Spassky in 1972.

Marshall represented labels like EMI, Polygram, United Artists and CBS (now Sony Music). He handled MCA's acquisition of Motown Records, Atlantic Records' sale to Warner Communications and the Bertelsmann Group's acquisition of Arista Records.

His firm advised African governments, as well as Nelson Mandela's African National Congress, on structuring radio and television and helped Swaziland establish a programme to combat AIDS.

He also served on boards of the Special Olympics International and the T J Martell Foundation for Leukemia, Cancer and AIDS Research, a music industry charity.

He is survived by his widow, Bette, a journalist who was in Jamaica during the 1980 general election; sons Robert Neal Marshall and Matthew Nathanial Marshall and his daughter Allison Leslie Marshall.

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