Fordham Law School bested 25 teams from across the country to capture the 2017 Cardozo/BMI Entertainment and Communications Law Moot Court Competition earlier this month in New York City.
The 2L team of Aviva M. Kushner (captain) and Benjamin Klein argued a total of seven rounds over the four-day competition, culminating in a championship victory over the University of California–Hastings Law School on March 5.
Kushner and Klein argued before a panel of three federal judges in the championship round, including the Hon. Robert Katzmann, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Kushner said knowing Judge Katzmann, whom she described as the “godfather of legislative history,” would preside over the final provided extra motivation.
“Arguing before the godfather of the materials we relied on was both terrifying and thrilling,” Kushner said of Katzmann. “The idea we came out victorious is incredible and something I’ll never forget.”
The Hon. James Oetken and Hon. Jesse Furman, both of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, also presided over the championship round. Kushner’s teammate Klein called the experience of arguing before the three federal judges “the highlight of my law school experience so far.”
The case Kushner and Klein argued involved two questions: 1) under what circumstances websites lose their “safe harbor” protection for carrying material that infringes a copyright and 2) whether a defendant who admits copying a portion of a sound recording may invoke an affirmative de minimis defense.
Both team members praised the preparation and aid they received from the team’s coach Professor Maria L. Marcus, team editor Mary Hannah Koseki, Fordham alumni who mooted them, and their classmates who traveled to Cardozo to watch them compete. In particular, Kushner described the moot of the Hon. Richard Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York as a “huge moot for us” a week and a half before the competition.
Klein and Kushner agreed that the rigorous preparation they underwent prior to the event made them comfortable once the competition started and allowed them to tackle questions head-on and let their individual personalities shine.
“After writing an intriguing brief, the team members launched themselves into arguing both sides of the case,” said Professor Marcus. “As petitioner, they forcefully presented reasons why the website had forfeited safe harbor protection for carrying infringing material. Switching to respondent’s side, the team was aided by its close attention to the judges’ prior questions to petitioner. The Fordham team members were ready for anything, and this was evident as they rocketed to the championship.”