Relationships are what business law is all about, says Philip Goodpasture, and in his legal career none has been more important than his relationship with Coran Capshaw. Now a music, Internet and real estate mogul, Capshaw met Goodpasture about 15 years ago, when Goodpasture was a young associate at the Richmond firm of Christian & Barton, doing mostly mergers and acquisition work for a newspaper conglomerate. Capshaw wanted Goodpasture’s advice on a lease agreement for a new nightclub he was opening in the city. The two began working together, and one day Capshaw invited Goodpasture to see a popular local band performing at a club he owned in Charlottesville.
That band was the Dave Matthews Band, and today Goodpasture’s work with the internationally acclaimed group, now managed by Capshaw, makes up the majority of his legal practice.
Offering everything from trademark and intellectual property expertise to employment law and tax advice, Goodpasture has helped guide the group through a series of legal thickets as they’ve used the latest technology to pioneer changes in the music industry.
“It’s been exciting to watch this group of extremely creative, really ingenious people work hard to transform their ideas into reality, and to get to help them do that,” says Goodpasture.
There’s Capshaw’s Musictoday Web site, for example, where the Dave Matthews Band and a slew of other groups now offer music, concert tickets and merchandise directly to their fans. It represents a sea change in an industry where artists used to have to go through third parties — record companies, ticket brokers and retailers — to connect with their fans.
“I particularly appreciate that Philip’s advice comes from such a broad perspective,” says Capshaw. “It is a great blend of both legal and business advice, which is invaluable to me with the wide array of activities I have going on.”
Born in Lisbon, Portugal, to missionary parents, Goodpasture, 45, was raised in Richmond, where he lives with his wife and three young children. And while Goodpasture is no musician, he loves music.
Especially Dave Matthews Band music.
“I’ve been a fan since the first time I saw them play,” he says. “It’s been a blessing to have clients whose work I really admire and who are just really good, decent people.”
Though he started out at Christian & Barton, he moved to the much larger Williams Mullen two years ago, primarily because it could offer broader support for Capshaw and the band.
While much of his work involves helping his clients take advantage of new technology, he has also protected them from pitfalls.
There was the incident five years ago, for example, when cybercriminal John Zuccarini was using the domain name “davemattews.com” to direct Internet surfers to advertisements for pornographic material. In a complaint filed with the National Arbitration Forum, Goodpasture claimed the domain name — with the “h” in Matthews missing — was confusingly similar to the band’s domain name. Zuccarini never responded to the complaint, the forum ruled in Goodpasture’s favor, and the rules against “typosquatting” are now pretty much settled law. It’s an example of how pesky issues pop up around new technology, and how the rules eventually get hashed out, Goodpasture says.
Goodpasture’s other clients tend to also be technology-related, though perhaps not in as splashy a way as Capshaw and the band. One collects grocery store price data for use by grocery store chains and consumer goods manufacturers, for example.
Goodpasture sees it as his job to help build long-term relationships between his clients and the people they do business with. He jokes that it’s not unlike drafting a prenuptial agreement.
“You’re in a negotiation where you are giving formality to what is a very personal relationship,” he says. “In the end, it’s very rewarding to see that relationship work. That’s more fun than dealing with the ticket scalpers and the bootleggers.”