paul szynol


I’m a filmmaker as well as a lawyer who specializes in media (film, music, photography, art) and tech (especially software).  For the last 15 years, I’ve concentrated my legal practice on intellectual property matters (including fair use), and have worked with filmmakers, artists, tech start ups, and tech multinationals.  My films have been featured on the New York Times Op-Docs, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker, and have been shown at festivals internationally, including AFI Docs, Clermont-Ferrand, Palm Springs, Slamdance, and Toronto Int’l Film Festival (Kids). Some of my photos have been exhibited in the US and Europe, including ICP in New York City and the Leica Gallery in Warsaw. 

I was born in Warsaw, Poland, and moved to NYC at the age of 12, the year that the city’s transit fare rose from 75 cents to 90 cents; 33 previously unknown Bach pieces were found in an academic library; and Canon demoed its first digital still camera. Besides New York City and Warsaw, I’ve lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Ann Arbor, Alexandria (VA), New Haven, Philadelphia, NJ, DC, and, for shorter periods, Kampala and Berlin. I’ve driven across the US six seven drives times, and I’ve visited the vast majority of the contiguous states, and, by train, plane or automobile, I’ve also visited some 45 50 55 60 countries.  I like stray dogs, fair use, old jazz LPs, depressing movies, trains, Greene and Kundera, Uganda, open source software, the Oxford comma, and occasionally translating Polish poetry to English.

In the past, I was a drummer and a huge nerd software developer, and I still play Pearl drums here and there, and tinker with Java libraries. 

After graduating from law school, where I focused on intellectual property and free speech, I was a law clerk to the Hon. Mariana Pfaelzer in the Central District of California. I was also in-house counsel at Bloomberg, and an associate at O’Melveny in San Francisco and Morrison & Foerster in New York City. 

I’m at


Yale Law School, JD
Columbia University, BA (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa)

Legal Panels/Lectures

American Documentary Film Festival
Brooklyn Documentary Club
Brooklyn Film Festival Exchange
Camden International Film Festival
Documentary Association of Europe
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
New School
NYU Tisch
Palm Springs International ShortFest Forum
Tribeca Film Institute
Video Consortium


Slamdance Film Festival (Doc Features and Narrative Shorts)

Film Panels

American Documentary Film Festival
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival


Fuzzy Boundaries: The Potential Impact of Vague Secondary Liability Doctrines on Technology Innovation in The Next Digital Decade: Essays on the Future of the Internet (2010).

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