The entertainment industry is one that involves contracts, intellectual property, copyright infringement, etc. Much of this can be overwhelming for creatives in the industry and they will likely need the guidance of an entertainment lawyer.
Understanding the role an entertainment lawyer plays and seeking out a lawyer who is a good fit for you can seem like a formidable task. This post will hopefully answer some of the questions you may have.
What is an entertainment lawyer?
Doctors have their areas of expertise such as pediatricians, neurosurgeons, radiologists, etc. Lawyers are the same way and have specializations. There are divorce lawyers, corporate lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, etc.
Entertainment lawyers practice a specialized law that pertains to the entertainment industry. As a creative in the industry, when you are in film, television, publishing, theater, etc., it is essential to understand the importance of an entertainment attorney in helping you navigate your career.
Entertainment lawyers have expertise in matters such as copyright law, contract law, small business, and labor & employment law.
What does an entertainment lawyer do?
There are a number of specialized services an entertainment attorney provides including negotiating, advising, protecting your intellectual property, document drafting, as well as tapping into connections for the client.
An entertainment lawyer can protect your interests and make sure that you are being compensated fairly for your work on your behalf. They can negotiate the terms of a project with a producer, agent, studio, publishing house, etc. with your best interests in mind. Self advocacy is difficult, especially when you are trying to navigate a career jump; not turning to a lawyer can result in an unfair contract.
When a creative is facing something within the industry that is out of the area of their expertise, an entertainment attorney is a great person to turn to for general advice. This could include information about payroll or unions, for example.
Protecting Intellectual Property
What you create should belong to you. An entertainment lawyer will seek to protect your intellectual property, whether it be a script, song, or logo, etc. They know how to protect you and your rights when someone wants to buy it, license it, or option it. They will also protect your work from unauthorized use.
Drafting appearance releases, distribution deals, production contracts, etc. are often a part of being a creative professional, but you probably didn’t cover those items in school. Entertainment lawyers help protect you and your rights and can make sure that there aren’t any items you’re missing out on.
Sometimes it really is all about who you know. An entertainment lawyer knows the business and knows people in the business. Even if they don’t know the specific person you want to work with, they can navigate channels to gain access to other professionals. If you are looking for a manager, accountant, etc., an entertainment lawyer likely knows someone and can make introductions.
Do you need an entertainment lawyer?
If you are just starting out, you likely don’t need an entertainment lawyer right off the bat (although it would be beneficial to consult with one to understand the lay of the land ahead, help you build a general strategy about direction, goals, and how to achieve them).
However, if you are in the process of signing any type of contract, small-scale or large-scale it would be wise to bring on an entertainment lawyer to advise you. This ensures you and your work are protected.
Anything from distributing an independent film, starting your own production company, or thinking your work has been plagiarized, it is in your best interest to have a lawyer on board.
Ideally, the lawyer you choose to represent you is your lawyer for life. Make sure they are a good fit for you by speaking with them prior to hiring them. You should feel as if your entertainment lawyer’s ethics aligns with your own values and that they understand the work and what is important. It’s important that you trust that your lawyer will fight for your values and best interest even in your absence.
In addition to our small business practice for talent, Morin Legal aids producers and production companies in content creation and taps into affiliated contacts at premier talent agencies, consulting and production companies to develop, package, and pitch shows for streaming, broadcast, or theatrical release. We also perform due diligence, contract review & representation, negotiation, and document drafting to hammer out the best deals for our clients.
We represent talent: writers, directors, actors, producers, and artists, animators, podcasters, journalists, media personalities, and influencers. We also represent their companies, including studios, publishing houses, and production companies. Finally, we represent financiers, or private persons, who are approached about supporting a project to completion. We invite you to schedule a consultation with us to find out how we can change things for you.