Student News

UCLA Law Magazine | Fall 2020

Students Earn Top Honors at Grammys Writing Competition

Entertainment Law Initiative chair Kenneth Abdo (left) congratulates UCLA Law student Christopher Chiang ’20 on his winning essay.

UCLA School of Law students Christopher Chiang ’20 and Graham Fenton ’20 won the top two prizes in the Recording Academy’s 22nd Annual Entertainment Law Initiative Writing Competition in January and were honored at a number of red-carpet events during Grammy Awards week.

The ELI Writing Competition solicits essays from J.D. and LL.M. students at ABA-accredited law schools across the country and challenges them to present “a proposed solution on a compelling legal issue confronting the music industry.” A distinguished panel of music-law experts judges the papers and chooses the winners.

Chiang took first prize 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 disputes over authorship of popular tracks including the Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and T.I. song “Blurred Lines”; the Led Zeppelin classic “Stairway to Heaven”; and Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.”

He will receive a $10,000 scholarship, and his paper will be published in the ABA Journal. Chiang also won tickets to the Grammy Awards show on Jan. 26 at Staples Center and the MusiCares Person of the Year gala, which took place two days earlier at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Fenton was a runner-up for his paper “Taming the Ticket Market: How a Closed Ticketing System Can Beat Back Scalpers and Recapture Lost Revenue.” The essay explores how the music industry and Congress can apply blockchain technology in their efforts to combat the multi-billion-dollar ticket scalping market. He won a $2,500 scholarship.

The UCLA Law students were honored at the Jan. 24 annual summit of the ELI, a convening of leading music lawyers and executives.