Joe Wetzel

San Francisco
  • 505 Montgomery Street
  • Suite 2000
  • San Francisco, CA 94111-6538
  • USA

Joe Wetzel is a first-chair trial lawyer who focuses on cutting-edge copyright and music licensing issues, representing clients from emerging companies to the biggest household names.

For over 15 years, Mr. Wetzel has represented clients at the trial and appellate levels in a variety of complex litigation matters, including IP and media licensing, data privacy, trade secret, and false advertising cases. He has extensive experience with music copyright and class action litigation, and regularly counsels large and small clients on various copyright, trademark, and rate-setting antitrust matters, as well as other intellectual property issues associated with various forms of media.

Mr. Wetzel is often recognized for his work in copyright law. He was recommended in 2020 by The Legal 500 US; named a Rising Star by Law360 in 2014, 2015, and 2017; and named a Future Star by Benchmark Litigation 2017-2019. He appeared in the 2016 Benchmark Litigation Under 40 Hot List and was selected for The Daily Journal Top 40 Under 40 for his work in intellectual property and media and entertainment litigation issues. He was also named a Rising Star by Northern California Super Lawyers 2012-2017.

Mr. Wetzel’s recent experience includes representing:

  • The National Association of Broadcasters in an industrywide Webcasting V proceeding before the Copyright Royalty Board to set rates under Section 114/112 of the Copyright Act
  • A leading events promoter and a music licensing committee in a rate-setting litigation
  • A multinational technology company in an industry-wide Copyright Royalty Board proceeding against the NMPA and music publishers to set statutory license rates and terms for on-demand streaming and cloud locker music services under Section 115 of the Copyright Act*
  • A public broadcaster in Public Broadcasting III and Webcasting IV Copyright Royalty Board proceedings
  • More than 7,000 commercial radio stations in first rate-setting arbitration against SESAC under a Radio Music License Committee antitrust settlement resulting in radio license fees that were more than 60% less than those yielded by the organization’s pre-settlement rate card*
  • More than 10,000 commercial radio stations in negotiating a five-year industry-wide public performance license with ASCAP worth more than half a billion dollars in royalties*
  • An amicus curiae nonprofit organization in appeals before the Second, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits concerning state-law recognition of rights in pre-1972 sound recordings*
  • US digital download stores and a sound recording aggregator in a putative class action alleging more than a billion dollars in damages for infringement of composers’ and publishers’ mechanical rights*
  • Audio-only and audiovisual licensees as trial counsel in three ASCAP/BMI rate court trials*
  • Audio-only and audiovisual licensees as appellate counsel in four Second Circuit appeals of ASCAP/BMI rate court orders*

*Matter handled prior to joining Latham

Thought Leadership

Mr. Wetzel frequently speaks on copyright and licensing issues faced by media companies in the performance or distribution of audio and audiovisual content, with a special focus on the ASCAP and BMI decrees and rate courts.

He has taught Music Law at the University of California Berkeley School of Law and has guest lectured at UC Hastings College of the Law and Santa Clara University School of Law.

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