Joe Wetzel is a trial lawyer who focuses on cutting-edge music and technology copyright issues, representing clients from emerging companies to the biggest household names. He serves as Co-Chair of Latham’s Bay Area Litigation Department.

For twenty years, Mr. Wetzel has represented clients in trial and appellate courts in a variety of complex litigation matters. He also regularly counsels clients on various copyright and licensing issues faced by traditional and new media platforms.

Mr. Wetzel is often recognized for his work in copyright law. He is ranked by Chambers USA and recommended in Copyright by The Legal 500 US. Billboard magazine has named him a Top Music Lawyer for five years running. And he was named to the inaugural LawDragon 100 Leading AI & Legal Tech Advisors. Law360, Benchmark Litigation, and The Daily Journal have also all recognized Mr. Wetzel’s litigation work in intellectual property, media, and entertainment.

Mr. Wetzel’s recent experience includes representing:

  • Anthropic as lead counsel defending copyright infringement claims brought by music publishers against generative AI technology
  • Meta as lead counsel defending copyright litigation claims brought by production music library for uses on Instagram and Facebook platforms
  • The National Association of Broadcasters as lead counsel in industrywide proceeding to set rates for use of sound recordings by noninteractive streaming services 
  • OpenAI in defense of copyright infringement claims by The New York Times and various putative classes of book authors alleging copyright infringement against generative AI technology
  • The Internet Archive in defense of copyright infringement claims brought by sound recording companies in connection with the Great 78 Project
  • Johnson & Johnson in a software copyright infringement dispute against its main competitor for theft of code for a medical device, which resulted in a nearly US$200 million settlement payment for J&J
  • Pandora in successful summary judgment motion dismissing claims of unauthorized use by owners of old sound recordings
  • A social media platform as lead counsel in successful resolution of copyright infringement claims brought by a music rights administrator after partial summary judgment win
  • Shopify in successful resolution of over half a billion dollars in asserted copyright infringement claims brought by academic publishers
  • The respondent as trial counsel in complete defense of arbitrated claims seeking over US$100 million in additional music license fees
  • A leading streaming service in successful resolution of concurrent, industrywide Copyright Royalty Board proceedings against music publishers to set statutory license terms for interactive streaming services from 2018-2027

Thought Leadership

Mr. Wetzel frequently speaks on copyright and licensing issues faced by media companies and technology platforms.

He has taught Music Law at the UC Berkeley School of Law and has guest- lectured in various internet and copyright law classes at the Bay Area’s top law schools. 

Bar Qualification

  • California
  • New York


  • JD, Fordham University
  • AB in Political Science, Brown University
February 16, 2024 Recognition

Litigator of the Week Runners-Up and Shout Outs — Telefónica and OpenAI

Two Latham teams were recognized for getting a summary judgment win for multinational telecom company Telefónica in a busted deal suit involving the client’s operations in Costa Rica, and for securing an important early win for OpenAI in a proposed copyright class action brought by Sarah Silverman and other authors.