What is Entertainment Law?
Entertainment law encompasses the legal services provided to the entertainment industry. Legal issues can arise in nearly every creative process stage, from production to licensing and distribution. Conflicts of interest are quick to surface when multiple parties are involved at each step of the process.
Entertainment lawyers must be fluent in contracts, litigation, tort law, bankruptcy law, immigration law, intellectual property law, and tax law. Transaction law alone can be vital during the beginning stages of the creative process, to production, and as partners or other key individuals enter and exit the project process.
Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property law is one of the most critical factors in the entertainment industry. For example, if you have something tangible in your hands, you may have the instinct to protect it. Intellectual property mainly comprises intangible objects, such as the idea behind something, trade secrets for processes used, the creative process in general, music, artistic expression, and more.
Trademarks and copyrights are a large part of intellectual property. Something is created through an individual or group of people that they want to ensure someone else isn’t copying, misusing, or otherwise financially gaining from the creators’ hard work without permission.
Contracts are necessary for nearly every stage of the creative process. When you view the entertainment industry as an ever-evolving and fluid industry with constant surprises, you may be able to see why. You may have heard of an “overnight success,” which often happens to those in the entertainment industry. How important is it to have a solid contract to protect those that may become famous overnight without warning to ensure all parties are protected and rewarded for their efforts? The same goes for those that may have had a lot of success in their past, put everything on the line for another project, and it doesn’t find success. Each party involved in that project will want to ensure their financial security or other efforts aren’t vulnerable to what society deems popular or famous.
Effective contracts can ensure that all parties involved can be honored as intended throughout the project’s life. Partnerships are created and dissolved often if you consider a project can last decades from creation to production and years of distribution. Renegotiating an existing contract that no longer serves all parties well is just one example of contract law being relevant to the entertainment industry.
A tort, by definition, is an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another and amounts to a civil wrong for which courts impose liability. How does this apply to the entertainment industry? Defamation, slander, invasion of privacy, and more are a few examples of civil issues that can affect parties within the entertainment industry. When one feels violated or wronged, a civil action may be necessary to remedy the situation.
The first amendment protects free speech, among other things, and the topic is raised frequently concerning the entertainment industry when controversial projects are produced and distributed. Censorship has been a hot topic in this industry for decades and will likely continue.
Right of Privacy or Publicity
Each individual has the right to protect their privacy or have authority over their public image. As you can imagine, this is frequently challenged in the entertainment industry. If a public figure discovers their name or likeness has been used for financial gain without their permission, their publicity rights may have been infringed upon. Similarly, if public figures find their privacy violated, they may have a solid case to defend themselves. With fame forcing public figures to be so readily accessible, the entertainment industry is on the frontlines of publicity and privacy issues almost daily.
What Can Entertainment Lawyers Do For Me?
As you can see, entertainment lawyers need to be well-versed and consistently updated on several legal issues surrounding the industry. Entertainment lawyers are on the frontlines for each phase of a project. From formation in protecting the intellectual property to contracts being drawn up, challenged, or re-negotiated, to publicity and privacy issues, to defend their clients in many other problems that may occur in this industry.
It is almost as crucial as being well-versed in all things entertainment law to be well-connected in an industry that is all about getting your foot in the door or “catching that big break.” Entertainment lawyers are well-connected in the industry and can guide you toward or steer you away from others that may or may not have your best interests at heart.
Do you have an issue with one of your partners on a project not holding up their end of the contract? Or are you in fear of your contract not behind upheld in the ever-changing industry? Entertainment lawyers can ensure that your contracts are solid and enforceable to protect you from all angles of your project as it progresses. As needs or goals change, re-negotiating a contract or several contracts may be vital to your career, and you can rely on entertainment attorneys for this as well.
Forming an attorney-client relationship with a trusted and experienced entertainment lawyer early on in your career is vital. They can help you to navigate the constant changes that arise, protect you against issues, and protect you from poor business decisions relative to your project. They can assess a situation based on years of working in the industry and provide necessary precautions and protection so you can avoid unnecessary concerns or issues for the duration of your career.
Contact our office at (323) 230-6200 to determine how we can best assist you. We look forward to working with you.