The Legal Challenges Handled by an Entertainment Attorney
You’ve put a band together and have been playing a lot of gigs. Maybe you’ve been approached by an agent who wants your band to go into the recording studio. Or you’ve written a play you want to make available for public performance or a book you want to publish. Or you’ve been offered a small role in a touring Broadway show or independent film. How do you ensure that your rights are protected? The answer is with an experienced entertainment lawyer.
What Is Entertainment Law?
Entertainment law is a specialized area of practice that focuses on a wide array of legal issues related to the arts and entertainment, including radio, television, film, theater, publishing, and music. Entertainment lawyers typically have expertise in a number of areas of legal practice, including:
- Intellectual property—The area of intellectual property most often tied to arts and entertainment is copyright law. If you have created any original work of art, you have a right to protect that work under federal copyright law. An entertainment lawyer knows how to best protect your interests and can advise you on how to maximize your copyright protection, so you can either profit appropriately when someone uses your creative work or prevent its unauthorized use. An entertainment lawyer can also review or discuss your creative efforts to ensure that they don’t violate existing copyrights (for example, by incorporating part of someone else’s existing work).
- Contract law—In virtually every area of entertainment, certain rights are protected by contract. If you’ve written a book, for example, an entertainment lawyer can negotiate your publishing deal, ensuring that you get fair royalties for each copy sold and that your intellectual property rights are fully protected. An entertainment lawyer can also draft agreements to protect royalty rights for songs or recordings; compensation for film, radio, television, or theatrical performances; or payment for original graphic images.
- Labor law—Most entertainment lawyers have thorough knowledge of a wide range of labor issues that potentially affect performers and artists, including:
- Wage and hour issues for performers, including child labor laws, overtime requirements, payroll taxes, and workers compensation
- Union, guild, and collective bargaining issues that apply in the entertainment industry
- Unfair labor practices that affect the entertainment industry
One of the most important non-legal benefits of working with an experienced entertainment attorney is the networking it can foster. Experienced entertainment lawyers have connections throughout the industry and can help facilitate interactions to get your creative works to people with the resources and experience to bring them to a wider audience.
To protect your legal rights as a creative artist, whether as a performer, writer, visual artist, or other type of entertainer, it’s essential that you retain an experienced and knowledgeable entertainment attorney. The right entertainment lawyer can handle negotiations for a variety of legal issues, from the protection of your intellectual property to employment agreements.