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Entertainment Lawyers: An Indispensable Asset for Creative Talent

Representing Creative Clients

The Role of Entertainment Lawyers

Despite the abundance of creative talent in virtually every country around the world, entertainment lawyers – attorneys who specialize in the legal and business practices supporting the entertainment industry – are sometimes few and far between, concentrated primarily in cities around the world where the creative industries tend to flourish. Given this phenomenon, many creators may not be familiar with the types of things entertainment law involves on a day-to-day basis, or how a qualified entertainment advisor can benefit their careers.

Clients in the entertainment, or so-called “media” industry often have multi-faceted concerns involving both contentious and non-contentious issues in their careers. In the best of times, they will be monetizing their talents and contributions and responding to commercial opportunities and transactions, committing their services or output in return for some form of remuneration, or showcasing themselves in the public eye in some manner. At other times, they may be accused by someone of wrongdoing (such as copyright plagiarism in the case of songwriters, for example), or be the victims of wrongdoing themselves (i.e., when someone else plagiarizes their song) in which case they are either defending their reputation and integrity, or enforcing their rights. In other respects, they are ordinary people like the rest of us who may get married and divorced, have children, pay taxes (or not), and eventually die, while keeping out of trouble in the meantime.

Areas of Expertise

Many entertainment clients employ a wide variety of professional service providers such as managers, booking agents, accountants, investment advisors, and publicists among others, to further their careers. Entertainment lawyers are typically involved with all aspects of their client’s endeavors, and may often supervise or otherwise coordinate such advisors. He or she must therefore be knowledgeable and experienced in the business practices and procedures supporting whatever industries in which their clients are engaged. Many entertainment advisors are therefore further specialized primarily within particular fields speciality such as book publishing, or music, or movies/TV, or sports. Even within these niches of expertise, it is not uncommon for some advisors to focus primarily on non-contentious (i.e., commercial) matters while others concentrate strictly on contentious issues, such as litigation.

Day-to-Day Responsibilities

On a day-to-day basis, entertainment lawyers typically maintain ongoing contact with their clients and provide guidance, counsel, and feedback to them. This could involve drafting or negotiating entertainment contracts, or advising clients on legal matters or responding to their questions. They may oversee and implement the development of a comprehensive IPR strategy for the client’s portfolio. They may network and liaise with industry executives or creative colleagues on the client’s behalf either in pursuit of a specific commercial endeavor or merely to expand the client’s circle of connections. They might also counsel or advise their clients about making or responding to controversial communications. A client might need representation before the courts enforcing their rights, or defending their reputation.

A Wise Investment for Creators

Entertainment advisors must therefore necessarily be a jack-of-all-trades at times, since at any given time their practice might involve various aspects of intellectual property rights, employment law, family law, taxation, rights of privacy and publicity, media regulation, or content censorship. He or she may at various times serve their clients as a business development strategist, or a business liaison, as a brand enhancer or a risk mitigator. Business communications and cross-cultural coordination also fall within the entertainment advisor’s bailiwick.

Creators engaged professionally in the industry should therefore think of entertainment lawyers as one of their strongest tools available to help build and maintain their success. It may be the best investments creators can make in themselves.

(C) 2023 Frank Rittman

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