Entertainment Law

Entertainment law involves the application of contract, employment, and intellectual property law principles to the interactions that occur between members of the entertainment industry. Attorneys who practice in this area of the law are typically engaged in one of two activities. Either they are hired to structure deals in way that provides the most benefit to their clients, or they are hired to protect the interests of their clients when deals go bad. Individuals who claim proprietary rights to motion pictures, television programs, music, and other forms of entertainment can also require assistance from an attorney in order to protect their rights from infringement.

Legal issues can arise at any stage in the creation of original works of entertainment. During the production stage, formal contracts are needed to set forth the respective rights of the parties involved in the project. For example, an actor playing a part in a commercial will be asked to sign a talent release. This document is a legally enforceable agreement whereby the actor gives the producer the right to use his or her name, likeness, voice, and performance in exchange for financial compensation. The terms of these and other production agreements must be negotiated by the parties and reviewed to ensure they comply with the law.

During the licensing and distribution stage, any number of legal issues can arise in the dealings between the owners of a work of entertainment and those who will be disseminating it to the public. For example, someone who holds the copyright to a popular song may enter into a royalty agreement with a radio station. Each time the radio station plays the song, the copyright holder receives a royalty payment. Similar agreements are necessary when protected works are distributed through other mediums, such as the internet. Entertainment law governs these kinds of transactions and offers protection against piracy and unauthorized use.