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Law Blogs: Nixon Loses in ‘Winner’ Song Spat

Posted Aug 24, 2007 5:53 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Law blawggers are agog over Nixon Peabody's claimed response to an unexpected Internet hit—the law firm's unofficial theme song "Everyone's a Winner at Nixon Peabody!"

Apparently created by law-firm marketers for an internal event celebrating the firm's inclusion in a Fortune magazine list of the 100 best places to work, the song reportedly got 10,000 hits in 12 hours after being posted on YouTube. At that point, though, the Web site acceded to Nixon's demand that it be taken down. However, Above the Law took a harder line. It is still providing a link to the song on its site, contending that this falls within the fair use copyright exception and, under the circumstances, is also protected by a news reporting privilege.

Sung to a disco beat, the catchy but, as the Volokh Conspiracy puts it, "incredibly cheesy" tune doesn't really seem particularly embarrassing to the firm:

"The best to work with! The best to work for! That's all we ever, ever want to be. We're not just talking. There's no disputing—the folks at Fortune magazine agree!" singers belt out at one point in the four-minute tune. The firm's unofficial theme song also features repeated yeah, yeah, yeahs, woos and as a chorus line, of course, "Everyone's a winner at Nixon Peabody!" ("Working together we're an awesome family!" is also reiterated.)

However, such lyrics allegedly resulted in heavy-handed attempts by the 700-attorney Rochester, N.Y.-based national law firm to suppress what it insists is not an official Nixon Peabody theme song. Above the Law says it initially received a firm e-mail saying that "Fun is not prohibited here." But then firm representatives called with a sterner message: "They claimed the person who leaked this song is 'in a fight' with Nixon Peabody, and menacingly stated that they (meaning NP) 'don't intend to let this thing lie.' We informed them that we have no desire to get involved in the firm's purported dispute with this unnamed individual. And that's where we left things," the blawg states.

The Volokh blawg is now asking readers to vote on whether the firm should have responded as it did or laughed along with everyone else. At around 9:35 p.m. Sunday, the count was 53 votes in favor of the firm and 1,004 supporting the alternative approach. About a dozen law blogs are now following the controversy, according to another Above the Law page, which lists them.

(Updated 9:30 p.m. Sunday to reflect the updated vote count.)

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