If you’re in the media & entertainment business, you are well aware that – contrary to the common misconception – it’s not all fun and games. The end product you serve to your audience may be fun, creative, and innovative, but you know that behind it lie mounds of tough grind. Even (or better yet – especially) the most offbeat, unorthodox TV show or groundbreaking new music album has to thank its existence to a pile of commonplace legal paperwork that had made it happen.
As a media & entertainment personality or business professional, you don’t have to know everything about the legal technicalities that enable you to run your business/bask in the spotlight. It is quintessential, however, that you hire someone who does and who knows media law like the back of their hand.
Media law: what is it about?
The first thing that immediately stands out about media law is that it is an immensely broad branch of law. This is mainly because it covers media and entertainment forms of all kinds: TV, film, music, athletics, advertising, Internet, social media, apps, publishing, you name it. Not just that, but it also encompasses legal fields ranging from intellectual property, publicity and privacy, corporate, finance, etc.
An entertainment lawyer handles contracts, copyrights, trademarks, and can even solicit deals on your behalf. All in all, a good deal of complex and important things, particularly if you or your products spend a lot of time under the scrutinous public eye. Due to the nature of the industry, a qualified media & entertainment lawyer should have ample commercial knowledge combined with outstanding communication skills.
What kinds of media/entertainment lawyers are there?
Although the classification can vary according to the media & entertainment domain the lawyer covers, production lawyer Lisa Calliff paints a good general picture: “There are three basic types of entertainment attorneys: talent lawyers, who represent writers, directors, actors, etc.; production lawyers; who typically represent producers during all phases of production (development, finance, production and distribution); and in-house lawyers, who work at HBO, Sony, Lionsgate, etc.”
Now that we got out ABC’s straights, let’s go through the key components of how a media lawyer can bolster your business:
- Protects your intellectual property
In general, by this we mean taking care of copywriting and trademark issues. If you earn your daily bread by creating unique intellectual content, then you need to take meticulous measures in order to protect it. By doing so, after all, you’re protecting your livelihood. You wouldn’t leave a safe of money out in the open, would you? Same applies to your book proposals, scripts, patents, designs, and this is exactly why you should invest in the legal services of a knowledgeable media lawyer.
- Buys and sells rights for IP
If you’re looking to adapt a novel or a play into a movie or theatre production (or the other way round!), for example, you will want a media & entertainment lawyer to research who holds the right to the material and, if possible, buy it on your behalf. Note that some rights are in the public domain: in such case, there is no need to plunk down a dime!
- Helps you negotiate better deals
While it’s usually the agent who finds the work, it is the entertainment lawyer that steps in to review and negotiate the deal. Being tricked into a bad deal, whether it’s related to TV, publishing, advertising, or some other form of entertainment, can rip you off both money- and reputation-wise. Same goes for sponsorship deals. Media attorneys should have your best interest at heart at all times, and make sure you don’t get swindled by signing a lousy or unfair contract.
- Checks the media material
Media material often contains false, defamatory, or simply unauthorised material, so it is up to the entertainment attorney to track down anything that could endanger their client’s reputation. In such cases, legal proceedings, especially in the celebrity universe, are not at all uncommon. Just to name one, do you remember when Cameron Diaz accepted a rather hefty libel damages over a story brought out by The Sun, in which they falsely claimed she was having an affair? Or when Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas received half a million pounds from Hello! magazine that published unauthorised photographs of the couple’s wedding? Both Diaz and Zeta Jones & Douglas had to thank their media attorneys for a considerable bump in their bank accounts.
- Connects you with the industry
And lastly, an especially talented and versed media & entertainment lawyer should be able to jump in and assist with bringing your projects to life, by pitching them to entertainment and media companies. Use his or hers connection to infiltrate yourself in the industry, as it’s through chit-chats, networking events and handshakes that the wheels get in motion.
Conclusion: Media Law And The Entertainment Industry
If you feel like your media & entertainment business could benefit from a top-tier media lawyer by your side, we might have just the right expert for you. Contact us for a free quote, and we’ll match you to the industry’s first-rate media & entertainment legal professionals for a trustworthy service.