Articles Posted in Outlook and Trends

Published on:

16 April 2021

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The recent ruling in Google v. Oracle has altered the definition of “fair use” when it comes to functional works such as code. While the use of existing creative works must still be transformative in order to avoid violating copyright laws, it will now be much easier to claim fair use when building on existing functional creations. JMBM’s Entertainment Litigation Chair Jeff Goldman explains the case below and discusses its potential impact on the hotel industry.

How does the Supreme Court’s Google v. Oracle case
impact the hotel industry (beyond software)?

by
Jeff Goldman, Chair, JMBM’s Entertainment Litigation Group

It was hyped as the “copyright case of the century.” Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, frets that the majority “transforms the definition of ‘transformative’” use into nothing more than “a use that will help others ‘create new products’” — a “new definition” that “eviscerates copyright.” Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc., dissent at 16-17. As an example of what might now be considered a “fair use,” Justice Thomas cites a “movie studio that converts a book into a film without permission[.]” Id. at 17.

Justice Thomas’s concern may be an overstatement. Whatever the repercussions of Google v. Oracle for the software industry, read in context, any attempt to apply its fair use analysis to works that are more creative than functional — like movies, books, and music — ought to fall flat. Nevertheless, various types of copyrighted works important to hotel operators may well be affected by the Court’s fair use analysis.

Copyright law basics

First, briefly, some background. Copyright law protects original “expression” that is fixed in some tangible medium (e.g., paper, film) but not “the ‘ideas’ that lay behind” that expression. Google at 13. The difference between an “idea,” and the “expression” of that idea, is often a difficult line to draw. One concept used to distinguish between idea and expression is that works, or parts of them, that are largely functional or utilitarian are closer to mere “ideas” than to protectable “expression.” Works — including computer code — that are purely functional or utilitarian are considered noncopyrightable ideas, rather than copyrightable expression. See RJ Control Consultants, Inc. v. Multiject, LLC, 981 F.3d 446, 457-58 (6th Cir. 2020). On the other hand, the threshold for copyrighrability is low; to be copyrightable, a work need only “possess some creative spark, ‘no matter how crude, humble or obvious’ it might be.” Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., Inc., 499 U.S. 340, 345 (1991) (quoting Professor Nimmer).

A copyright owner’s exclusive power over a copyrighted work is also subject to various limitations, including that “a copyright holder cannot prevent another person from making a ‘fair use’ of copyrighted material.” Google at 13, citing 17 U.S.C. § 107. Among the factors courts consider in the fair use analysis is how much the new work “transforms” the original work — a concept that courts have had trouble applying with any degree of consistency and predictability.

The Google case

The Google case centered on the protectability, and Google’s use, of a type of largely functional computer code called “declaring code.” The easy way for the Supreme Court to decide the case would have been to simply rule that Oracle’s “declaring code” was not copyrightable — as Google argued, and the district judge agreed (a ruling the Federal Circuit reversed). But it was clear from oral argument that the Court was having none of that. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

08 April 2021

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The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is currently accepting public comments on a provision in the recently enacted Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) which requires some privately-held business entities to disclose ownership information directly to a law enforcement agency. Interested parties should consider commenting before the May 5th deadline, and companies who may be impacted should take this opportunity to review their anti-money laundering compliance programs. Vince Farhat and Samuel Buchman of JMBM’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Group have written an article detailing this legislation below.

FinCEN Seeks Comments on Ownership Disclosure Requirements in New Federal Anti-Money Laundering Law

by
Vince Farhat, Chair and Samuel Buchman, Associate
JMBM’s White Collar Defense & Investigations Group

On April 1, 2021, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking giving companies and individuals the chance to comment on the new beneficial ownership disclosure requirements contained in the recently-enacted Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”), which is part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (“AMLA”) included in the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”). Under the CTA, some privately-held business entities will be required, for the first time, to disclose ownership information directly to a law enforcement agency. FinCEN is accepting public comments on the CTA disclosure requirements through May 5, 2021, and companies and other interested parties should consider commenting by this deadline to help shape the anticipated rulemaking process at this early stage. This article focuses on two specific legislative changes which could lead to an uptick in federal anti-money laundering enforcement: (1) the CTA beneficial ownership disclosure requirements; and (2) enhanced whistleblower incentives and protections under the AMLA. It is critical for companies to stay abreast of regulatory developments in order to maintain proper compliance with these changing enforcement rules.

Background

Congress enacted the NDAA on January 1, 2021. This year’s iteration of the NDAA gained notoriety when former President Trump vetoed the bill, taking issue with the bill’s failure to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. However, following a veto override, the NDAA became law, marking the 59th consecutive year in which some form of the NDAA has been passed. This Section 230 scuffle diverted attention away from the AMLA, a separately named Act within the NDAA. The AMLA represents the most significant reform to anti-money laundering laws in two decades since the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act.

Among the AMLA’s sweeping reforms are efforts to strengthen FinCEN, extend the reach of the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”), and expand the Department of Justice and Treasury Department’s ability to subpoena foreign financial institutions.

In its advance notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPR”), FinCEN requested comments on the new CTA beneficial ownership disclosure requirements. The comment period will last until May 5. The ANPR solicits comments on a variety of topics, including: definitions of the various ambiguous terms in the law; the disclosure procedure; determining the scope and content of the disclosures; the means by which entities will seek an exemption from the reporting requirements; and how the disclosures will be shared with state and local law enforcement and financial institutions. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

20 February 2021

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Click here for the latest articles on Hotel Finance.

Hotel finance lawyer: PACE Financing is now mainstream

About five years ago, my partner David Sudeck, a senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®, spoke at a hotel industry conference about the attractive features of PACE financing as an innovative financing technique. David has extensive experience with virtually all kinds of real estate financing from senior debt to joint ventures. At the time, he had just finished working on a hotel financing that included components of a senior construction loan from a private lender, Mello Roos community facilities district financing, EB-5 financing, and PACE Financing. Few people in the audience at the conference had heard about PACE financing, and there were a lot of questions about its characteristics.

Over the past five years, PACE financing has gained wider acceptance, and moved from a novel or creative technique to a widely-accepted practical solution to financings. It has gained traction with both lenders and borrowers. But its gradual increasing use was accelerated by the COVID pandemic and resulting lockdowns, and near collapse in many segments of the hospitality industry. The accompanying deficiency of construction and other financing since March 2020, supercharged the importance and use of PACE Financing. Over the past few months alone, David Sudeck and his team have worked, on the lender and borrower-side of transactions, on more than a dozen PACE financing transactions. The largest that we have worked on, more than $40 million of PACE financing, closed just a few weeks ago.

At this point, most owners and developers are considering PACE financing as part of their capital stack for development, for renovation, and for rescue capital (more on this below). And more and more lenders have been approving PACE as a part of the capital stack. Why, you ask?

Why PACE financing can be attractive:

PACE financing takes the form of a voluntary tax assessment on real property, having the same features and priority as an ad valorem real property tax (typically paid only twice per year, when real property taxes are paid). Here are some of the features that may be negotiated which can make it attractive financing: CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

19 February 2021

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Click here for the latest articles on Hotel Finance.

The Global Hospitality Group® just hosted a very timely webinar discussing the state of the hotel and CMBS industries. Our program featured senior representatives from Argentic, Greystone, and Situs – three of the largest CMBS special servicers with the most distressed hotel debt – as well as leading data and analytics firm Trepp, HREC’s runway capital program, Manhattan Hospitality for hotel industry perspectives, and our own hospitality workouts and receivership expert to break down the current state of the distressed hotels market and CMBS special servicing.

Two of our panelists, Jack Westergom of Manhattan Hospitality Advisors and Manus Clancy of analytics firm Trepp, presented slides packed with useful information, and we wanted to make them available to those who were not able to attend the program. Jack’s update on the state of hotel industry, and Manus’ state of the CMBS industry presentation are both available for download below.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

31 December 2020

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Click here for the latest on labor and employment guidance.

As 2020 comes to a close, many employers have questions about a number of new laws which are about to come into effect. In the article below, JMBM’s Labor and Employment Group have summarized recent changes to labor regulations and provided a snapshot of what to expect in the new year.

Labor & Employment New Year Round-Up
What to Expect in 2021

Several new pieces of California legislation have either recently gone into effect or will take effect on January 1, 2021, impacting nearly all employers and how they handle COVID-19 related issues, leaves of absence, workers’ classification, discrimination disputes, arbitration agreements, union relations, and other miscellaneous issues.

The start of a new presidential administration also brings potential changes to labor regulations; find out what we’ll be watching for, below.

Our round-up will help you determine which key issues may impact you in 2021; contact us to be sure you’re ready for all these upcoming changes. Click the ‘read more’ link for each topic to see a comprehensive summary.

New COVID-19 Reporting Obligations

AB 685 adds to California’s growing list of COVID-19 health and safety related laws, imposing additional reporting obligations on employers and expanding Cal/OSHA’s authority to issue shutdown orders for workplaces that pose a risk of an “imminent hazard” relating to COVID-19.

What this means for employers: Employers should update their written COVID protocols for employees, and prepare template notices that include the information required under the new law.

Read more here.

COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Presumption

SB 1159 creates a disputable workers’ compensation presumption that illness or death related to COVID-19 is an occupational injury and therefore eligible for benefits.

What this means for employers: The presumption is disputable, meaning that employers have an opportunity to refute the presumption by providing evidence to indicate that an employee did not contract COVID-19 at the workplace. Employers should ensure that they implement adequate measures to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace and that these measures are well documented.

Read more here.

Temporary Cal/OSHA “COVID-19 Prevention Rule”

California’s Office of Administrative Law approved Cal/OSHA’s emergency COVID-19 Prevention Rule, which will remain in effect through at least October 2, 2021. One of the key provisions of the new rule requires California employers to establish and implement a written prevention program tailored toward preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

What this means for employers: This rule is expansive and imposes a number of significant burdens on employers. Employers should consult with counsel upon reviewing each of the Rule’s mandates to ensure compliance.

Read more here.

Significant Expansion of Family Leave Requirements to Almost All CA Employers

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

20 December 2020

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Click here for the latest articles on the coronavirus. and here for the latest on labor and employment guidance.

Hotel Lawyer: What stance should hotels take on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations?

Most of the world has been anxiously waiting for the “silver bullet” of an effective COVID-19 anti-virus vaccine to save lives, reopen business, save severely damaged hotels and restaurants, and restore public confidence. The FDA approval of the first two US vaccines and the massive distribution immediately thereafter is projected to provide sufficient doses of the vaccine for about half the US population by March 2021 and 100% of the population by the Summer of 2021.

But almost before the anti-virus vaccine distribution started, a significant faction of anti-vaxxers started challenging the effectiveness and desirability of taking the vaccine. Many such advocates said they do not want to take the vaccine, or at least want to wait. Some raised questions about the vaccine’s effectiveness and side effects. Issues of allergic reaction and religious conviction (against the vaccine) were raised. “Social control” issues started to shape the debate and the controversy. It is ironic that so many are fighting for priority to get the vaccine first while others fight attempts to force vaccination.

So, what should hotels do to protect their employees and guests? Can – or should – hotel employers mandate vaccination for their public-facing workforce? What are the important legal and business considerations in charting the right course? CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

10 December 2020
Click to see our category-killer experience with hotels. See also our distressed loan credentials and The Lenders Handbook for Troubled Hotels. And click here for the latest blog articles on loan modifications, workouts, bankruptcies and receiverships, and outlooks and trends.

Most of the receiverships in the United States are state court receiverships. But lenders seeking the relief and protection of receiverships are giving new consideration to filing in federal court.
Our partner Nick De Lancie took the lead in putting together this summary of some key factors in making this choice today.

Time for a new look at
Federal vs. State Receiverships

Many state courts are closed or backlogged

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, getting receivers appointed in many state courts may be difficult. Some state courts are effectively closed, others are backlogged, and still others have temporary restrictions on receivership or foreclosures proceedings that push receivership applications even further down the stack.

Federal courts are generally open and working. Federal courts, however, have generally been proceeding with their cases in a more-or-less normal fashion. Even though federal courts do not have the quick receivership hearings that some states permit in ordinary times, federal receiverships, which are not commonly used by secured creditors, can be a very useful remedy for defaulted loans. This is particularly true even when state courts are fully “open for business” where the borrower’s operations and the creditor’s collateral are located in multiple states.

Similarities to state receiverships. Federal receiverships are similar to traditional state court receiverships but they have nationwide scope and may avoid many of the problems that arise from seeking and using multiple receivers, each from a court in a different state. They are historically recognized by federal law and are recognized and governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

19 November 2020

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Click here for the latest articles on the coronavirus.

Hotel Lawyer: Is the hotel industry on the verge of salvation, or precipice of despair?

We are less than a week from Thanksgiving and a lot of new data has been released in the past few days, with important implications for the hotel industry and the economy. Some highlights discussed below are:

  • An American Hotel & Lodging Association survey taken November 10-13, 2020, provides a grim short-term forecast for the hotel industry, saying 71% report they can last only 6 months more, and 34% can last only 1 to 3 more months.
  • A City National Bank (CNB) report provides a November 18 update that new COVID vaccines now claim 90% or higher effectiveness; they might become available in December and be widely available by spring 2021.
  • The same CNB report projects short-term pain (rising COVID cases, deaths and hospitalizations) a decrease in consumer activity, and contraction for the economy (driven by COVID) – but projects a strong economic recovery starting with the second half of 2021.
  • CNB Report warns that its projected recovery in for the economy and markets is “unconditionally dependent on [the COVID] vaccine ending the pandemic.”

The AHLA Survey

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) issued a press release on November 19, 2020 with the results of a survey taken November 10-13, 2020 with 1,200 respondents. The survey indicates widespread hotel closures and failures unless there is significant federal economic relief to survive the devastating loss of travel and tourism.

  • 71% of hotels report they will only be able to last 6 more months at current projected business, and 34% say they can last only 1 to 3 months longer.
  • 82% of hotel owners say they cannot obtain additional debt relief from their lenders beyond the end of the year.
  • 59% of hotels says they are in danger of foreclosure by their lenders due to COVID-19.
  • 52% say they will close without additional federal assistance, and 98% would apply for and use another round of Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

15 September 2020

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Click here for the latest articles on the coronavirus.

Boutiques may be adapting faster than other hotel sectors, but still hurting

The theme of the Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association’s (BLLA) upcoming Boutique Lifestyle Digital Summit is “Dare to Adapt” and there are some compelling arguments as to why the boutique space may be able to adapt to the current economic crisis faster than other sectors in the hotel industry.

“Boutiques can pivot easily,” said Frances Kiradjian, Founder and CEO of the BLLA. “They can make decisions quickly without checking in with brands.”

Take cleaning, an area of great to concern to guests in the current COVID-19 environment. As new information and cleaning methods come to light, boutiques can implement them quickly. As Kiradjian said, “By design, some boutiques have a smaller footprint and fewer rooms, smaller elevators, smaller public spaces, and dedicated staff members who care about delivering a customized experience for each guest.”

Guy Maisnik, Vice Chair of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group, who will moderate the panel “Protecting Your Assets Amid a Pandemic” at the BLLA’s Digital Summit, agrees that boutiques have great flexibility, and being nimble and able to change quickly is critical in this market.

“For one thing, many hotels have gone toward smaller guest rooms and larger indoor communal public spaces,” he said. “Obviously, such configuration does not work in this environment.”

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

25 June 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.

Meet the Money® Online: CMBS Special Servicing FAQs
for CMBS borrowers, investors and holders

A virtual roundtable of current perspectives, challenges and opportunities for hotel and retail projects

JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® is excited to announce that next up in our Meet the Money® Online series is a virtual roundtable discussion among some of the top experts in the complex world of CMBS. If you are a CMBS borrower, investor or holder – or are involved in properties affected by CMBS – you will not want to miss this important conversation.

The online event will take place on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 10:30 AM PDT / 1:30 PM EDT. Register now.

Join our experts online for this 1-hour event which will answer the questions most frequently asked of CMBS special servicers and will also cover important considerations that CMBS holders, borrowers and investors often miss, including:

  • What are special servicers seeing now after the first wave of COVID-19 relief requests? How are forbearance requests being handled?
  • Which loans have larger underlying issues that will require a more complicated and protracted workout?
  • What are the critical appraisal and valuation issues today? What does stabilized value look like, and what assumptions are going to be used?
  • What are the most important effects of Pooling and Servicing Agreements? What do the documents say (or don’t say)?
  • What inconsistencies are showing up and where are they coming from?
  • What are the red flags for loan modifications (or purchase/sale) that could affect the all-important CMBS tax structure?
  • What impact does securitization structure—REMIC, Grantor Trust, CLR/QRS—have on workouts?
  • Can a “special purpose entity” file bankruptcy with independent directors and other bankruptcy remote features in loan documents or corporate structure?
  • Can a hotel be considered “single asset real estate” (or SARE) for streamlined bankruptcy purposes, and why do creditors care?
  • What should we anticipate moving forward?

The program will be moderated by Jim Butler, Chair of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®, a founding partner of JMBM, and one of the top hotel lawyers in the world. Devoting 100% of his practice to hospitality, Jim is author of www.HotelLawBlog.com and chairman of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® which focuses on representing hotel owners, developers, and capital providers. CONTINUE READING →

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