Joe Wetzel is a first-chair trial lawyer who focuses on cutting-edge music and software copyright issues, representing clients from emerging companies to the biggest household names. He also serves as Co-Chair of the Bay Area Litigation & Trial Department.

For almost two decades, Mr. Wetzel has represented clients at the trial and appellate levels in a variety of complex litigation matters. He also regularly counsels large and small clients on copyright and licensing issues faced by digital platforms and other technology companies.

Mr. Wetzel is often recognized for his work in copyright law. He is ranked by Chambers USA and recommended by The Legal 500 US for Copyright, and Billboard magazine has named him a Top Music Lawyer for four years running. Mr. Wetzel was three times named a Rising Star by Law360, twice in Media & Entertainment and once in Intellectual Property, named a Future Star by Benchmark Litigation 2017-2022, appeared in the Benchmark Litigation Under 40 Hot List, and was selected for The Daily Journal Top 40 Under 40 for his work in copyright and intellectual property litigation matters.

Mr. Wetzel’s recent experience includes representing:

  • A leading social media platform as lead counsel in defense of copyright infringement claims brought by production music company
  • A leading medical device company as plaintiff in a software copyright infringement action leading to a nine-figure settlement
  • A social media platform as lead counsel in successful settlement of copyright infringement claims brought by a music rights administrator after partial summary judgment win
  • A leading e-commerce platform against 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 concurrent, industrywide Copyright Royalty Board proceedings against music publishers to set statutory license terms for interactive streaming services from 2018-2027
  • A trade organization as lead trial counsel and appellate counsel in industrywide proceeding before the Copyright Royalty Board to set rates for use of sound recordings by noninteractive streaming services
  • Two leading streaming services in a series of putative class actions and appeals over the use of old sound recordings
  • A leading events promoter and a music licensing committee as trial counsel in rate-setting litigations against BMI
  • More than 7,000 commercial radio stations as trial counsel in rate-setting arbitration resulting in 60% reduction in license rates*
  • A multinational technology company in a landmark multi-billion dollar copyright infringement lawsuit regarding the copyrightability and fair use of APIs*
  • A private standards development organization in copyright infringement claims associated with unauthorized reproduction, display, and distribution of copyrighted standards*
  • 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’ copyrights*
  • Audio and audiovisual licensees as trial counsel in three ASCAP/BMI rate court trials*
  • Audio and audiovisual licensees as appellate counsel in four Second Circuit appeals of ASCAP/BMI rate court decisions*

*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 content on various traditional and new media 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