Peter Franck

Columbia Law School 1961
Area of Practice: Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property, Media Rights
Location: Oakland, San Rafael

Franck’s parents were German Jews who were able to leave Germany early during Hitler’s reign. He always felt that their history impacted him and contributed to his activism on the left. In the 1960s, Franck primarily represented anti-war activists, war resisters and conscientious objectors.

He represented the high profile case of Mario Savio and other leaders of the Free Speech Movement of Berkeley in criminal appeals arising from the occupation of Sproul Hall in 1964. Other noteworthy cases include United States v. O’Connor in which a son of a prominent San Francisco judge was prosecuted for refusing induction into the Army; United States v. Dunifer, a case in which the court ruled against Dunifer’s right to broadcast without a license and ultimately led activists to pressure the FCC more strongly for a licensed low-power FM service Microradio, a political movement with the goal of putting low-power FM transmitters into the hands of community activists, minority groups, and those with no hope of getting a traditional Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license to broadcast; and United States v. Bishop, a case where a large group of protestors’ who sat at the port Chicago naval station blocking shipments of napalm to Vietnam were acquitted of trespassing because the government couldn’t prove that it had acquired the land lawfully.

Some of his clients went on to form some of the major rock bands of the period and continued to seek his legal help. As the war was coming to an end, Peter realized that entertainment law and intellectual property law was far more interesting than any other aspect of law.

Peter’s recurring concern for matters of free speech and independent media was a reflection of his practice of “culture law.” He focuses on transactional matters such as copyrights, licenses, insurance coverage, and other related areas. Franck has learned and acknowledged the importance of art, media, and freedom of speech and continues to defend the public’s right to alternative and independent means of communication through media reform.