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2022 BESLA Scholarship Essay Competition

For nearly 40 years, BESLA has supported law students financially, through mentoring and   internship opportunities. BESLA also awards scholarships to deserving law students seeking careers in the entertainment, sports and related industries. 

The Essay Competition is an annual competition that encourages original and innovative research and writing on selected related industry topics.  An applicant may select one of the two topics below for submission.

Deadline for completed submissions: October 7, 2022


BESLA ESSAY TOPIC #1 "Lyrics as Evidence"

Thomas Canady, who was charged with (1) intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon; and (2) robbery, use of a dangerous weapon in 2014, is one of the rap artists whose music lyrics have been discriminately used for criminal convictions.  In 2017, Canady was found guilty on both counts using his lyrics and additional circumstantial evidence. In 2022, the New York Senate passed Senate Bill S7527 called "Rap Music on Trial", which requires that music lyrics be proven factual, rather than figurative or fictional, to pass legal muster for evidentiary admissibility. The bill “limits the admissibility of evidence of a defendant's creative or artistic expression against such defendant in a criminal proceeding.” This bill was supported by artists Jay-Z, Run The Jewels, Killer Mike, Meek Mill and others. The passing of this bill came as   Young Stoner Life Records ("YSL Records") rappers Young Thug and Gunna were charged in Georgia under the Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act using “evidence” taken from their song lyrics.


Should music lyrics be admissible under the:

(i)     First Amendment;

(ii)    Fifth Amendment;

(iii)   Equal Protection Clause; and

(iv)   Rules of Evidence?


Why or why not?


BESLA ESSAY TOPIC #2 "Legal considerations when issuing an NFT"

You have been hired by a visual artist to provide guidance regarding the minting and offer of a collection of NFTs featuring the artists' original works of art. Your client does not fully understand what NFTs are, but does know she would like to retain certain rights to her underlying works, including the ability to exhibit the same art featured in the NFTs in other formats, including physical or digital formats other than NFTs. Your client also wants to sell goods, including t-shirts and mugs, featuring the same original works of art issued as NFTs. 


Prepare a memo to your client explaining (1) what NFTs are; (2) the rights your client may have as the artist and issuer of an NFT, and (3) the rights of the purchaser of the NFTs.  Advise your client how best to protect and retain copyright and trademark rights in their original works of art. In addition, propose language that your client should include in the Terms of Purchase  governing the rights conveyed to the NFT holder that will be attractive to buyers, while reserving intellectual property rights in the underlying works of art. Please include terms to: (i) set forth the rights granted to the NFT purchaser; (ii) set forth limitations on such license; and (iii) set forth any other term(s) that would effectuate your client’s goals.  Please also include in your memo a discussion of the issues raised in at least one pending lawsuit regarding NFTs to support your recommendations. Current lawsuits you may discuss include: 

Miramax, LLC v. Tarantino, C.D. Cal.< 2:21-cv-08979; and


Yuga Labs, Inc. v. Ryder Ripps, Jeremy Cahen and DOES 1-10, C.D. Cal. < 2:22-cv-04355.


Submission Guidelines


All BESLA scholarship essays should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Written legal memorandum/law review-style article

  • Page Limit: Five (5) pages

  • Font: Times New Roman

  • Font Size: Twelve (12) point

  • Spacing: Double-spaced

  • Each essay should include relevant case law, law review, statutory, and/or other source citations.

  • Citations will not be counted as part of the five (5) page essay limit

  • Citations may only be included as endnotes (citations should not be included as footnotes)


Only completed submissions will receive scholarship consideration. Submissions are considered complete when they contain all of the following materials:

  • Completed BESLA Scholarship Essay Application

  • Essay

  • One (1) page resume/CV

  • A personal biography not to exceed two hundred and fifty (250) words

  • A business professional headshot (high-resolution images highly encouraged)

  • Law school transcript

Deadline for completed submissions: October 7, 2022

Questions: email

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