” An entertainment lawyer is often an important professional resource for a producer, director, or another creative working in film or television. Read ahead to catch a gist of the role of an entertainment lawyer within the entertainment industry.”
It deals with the legal services provided within the entertainment and media industry. Some law fields are extremely specific. Like a litigation lawyer typically argues cases in court and negotiates settlements for their clients, while a tax lawyer helps their clients resolve matters regarding taxation. On the other hand, an entertainment lawyer often enjoys varied and diverse responsibilities. The word ‘Entertainment Law’ constitutes a broader term that incorporates different studies and applicability of laws, for instance, litigation, taxation, transactional law, contract law, compliance law, criminal law, etc. One can assume that entertainment law may be a combination of multifarious laws. The role of an entertainment lawyer is diverse, an entertainment lawyer is qualified enough to guard their clients’ intellectual property rights, represent them in court over disputes, negotiate contracts, act as an agent to maximize their earnings, and help them manage their taxes, among other responsibilities.
Legal approach and working in the industry
Film: As we all know making a film is such a colossal task to handle. Similar to that even more gigantic task is that of the varied legal contracts and agreements that need to be entered into whilst making a film. Some of the major contracts are contracts with stars and other talent, labour negotiations with various union crews and employees, co-production agreements, financial backing arrangements, distribution agreements, equipment and space rental, production liability issues, merchandising and product placement, and copyright and trademark issues.
Just like the films, there are contracts in theatre such as contracts with talent and crew, rental and co-production agreements, producer agreements, product liability issues, ticket sale agreements, and copyright and trademark issues.
Entertainment lawyers in the music industry mainly handle contracts with record labels, artists, managers, agents, music licensing, royalty agreements, and handle copyright issues.
Due to the advent of OTT platforms, the role of an entertainment lawyer has evolved over the years. They now also handle documentation relating to OTT platforms, licensing agreements, assignment agreements, and copyright issues related thereto.
Production contracts, author agreements, advertising and marketing agreements, and copyright and trademark issues. Broadly speaking, the work done by an entertainment lawyer can be split into two major categories. Attorneys divide the practice of entertainment law into two basic categories: transaction-based and litigation-based. Transaction-based focuses on drafting and negotiating entertainment contracts, while litigation-based means resolving disputes by filing a lawsuit or through mediation or arbitration.
More specifically, an entertainment lawyer can target any or several of many practice areas, like intellectual property, corporate law, labour law, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution, litigation, property, real estate, criminal law, international law, matrimonial law, taxation, and immigration.
Work of Media Attorney
The drafting of varied contracts and agreements is the primary role of an entertainment lawyer. The different kinds of contracts include production contracts, artist/actor agreements, director agreements, satellite agreements, etc. The role also includes being knowledgeable about the law and ensuring that the terms contained within each contract are appropriate and align with their client’s best interests. In addition, entertainment lawyer helps their client to understand the terms and conditions with which they are contractually bound to comply.
Aside from drafting, an entertainment lawyer is additionally required to possess negotiation skills to enable them to get the best bargain for their client. Most often, talent agents and entertainment lawyers work together on behalf of their clients. Talent agents and entertainment lawyers together counsel their clients on terms of the contracts and aid in negotiating fee arrangements.
Connecting clients with other service providers: Drafting and negotiating contracts isn’t the sole responsibility of an entertainment lawyer. It is a general practice for an in-house entertainment lawyer to collaborate with an agent and perform tasks and duties similar to those of an agent, manager, or publicist.
One of the foremost important roles of an entertainment attorney is providing legal guidance and advice to their clients. Entertainment lawyers are proficient in traditional law as well as contractual laws and understand the nitty-gritty of the profession and interpretation of varied laws that interact with one another.
Protecting intellectual property
One of the major roles of entertainment lawyers is to protect the intellectual rights of their clients. This requires them to be proficient in-laws concerning copyright, trademark, and other likes. They may require filing suits, injunctions, defect suits filed against their client, etc.
An entertainment lawyer can represent their client and handle all communications procedures on their behalf. If a client has any legal matter or lawsuit filed against them, and entertainment attorney can negotiate on their behalf to secure an out-of-court settlement or vigorously represent their clients in court before a judge.
Developing financing agreements for various loans, sponsorships, grants, and other forms of funding. As you’ll see from the above, the role of an entertainment lawyer is often quite extensive, making them a vital go-to individual to have on your side if you operate a business within the entertainment industry. Apart from the duties and responsibilities, here are some of the areas lawyers may handle for each industry:
Media Attorney in-house representation
An entertainment lawyer can work as in-house counsel for huge media houses such as Yash Raj Films, Viacom, Red Chillies, Etc. Some of the work that an entertainment law will focus upon are drafting and negotiating all agreements and contracts that revolve around audiovisual content like endorsement deals, actor agreements, director agreements, Intellectual Property protection, celebrity contracts, etc.
Usually, the big media houses that run huge companies in the industry have their own legal departments that work alongside business teams to draft and negotiate contracts, facilitate funding processes, manage and acquire talent, litigate and protect their Intellectual Property Rights. These houses coordinate with external law firms so as to understand the legal requirements from a business perspective. Thus, in-house lawyers who work for a media or entertainment company have to understand the company to a certain required depth and level, so as to effectively advise them and protect their best interests. These in-house counsels acquire expertise in different parts of the entertainment industry by bridging assignments with legal departments and this paves the way to becoming the general counsel.
Alternatively, an entertainment lawyer may be part of a law firm that specialized in media and entertainment works. In this way, they get to represent and advise the media house as an external counsel. The advantage of being an entertainment and media lawyer in a law firm is that one gets to work with different clientele at the same time and represent different media houses and other entertainment industry’s best talents all at the same time.
Legal documentations and drafting overview
- EMPLOYING A STORY WRITER – This is a precedent of an agreement with the Story Writer whereby Story Writer’s services are engaged to write story, screenplay and dialogues in the Cinematographic Film.
- ARTIST’S ENGAGEMENT AGREEMENT – This is a precedent of an agreement between the Film Producer and the Artist (Actor/Actress) whereby Artist’s Services is engaged in the feature film to play a role on the agreed terms and conditions.
- EMPLOYING A LYRICIST – This is a precedent of an agreement with Lyricist whereby his services are engaged to write lyrics for the cinematographic film.
- ENGAGING A MODEL FOR ADVERTISING THE PRODUCT – This is a precedent of an agreement with the Model whereby Model’s Services are engaged to act as Model in the advertisement film.
- EMPLOYING A DIRECTOR TO DIRECT THE CINEMATOGRAPHIC FILM – This is a precedent of an agreement between the Film Producer and the Film Director whereby Director’s Services are engaged to direct the cinematographic film.
- AGREEMENT FOR FINANCING THE CINEMATOGRAPHIC FILM -This is a precedent of an Agreement for financing the Cinematographic film.
- AGENCY AGREEMENT FOR DISTRIBUTION OF A CINEMATOGRAPHIC FILM WITHIN INDIA FOR THEATRICAL RIGHTS ON MINIMUM GUARANTEED BASIS – This is a precedent of the agency agreement for distribution of the film within India for theatrical rights on minimum guaranteed basis.
- ASSIGNMENT OF REMAKING RIGHTS OF A FILM IN A PARTICULAR LANGUAGE -The cinematographic film is already released. Somebody wants to remake the same in a particular language. This is a precedent of an assignment of a film in a particular language only.
- AGREEMENT FOR DISTRIBUTION OF A MOTION PICTURE/FILM FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD EXCLUDING CERTAIN RIGHTS – This is a precedent of an agreement for the distribution of a cinematographic film for the entire world but excluding certain rights.
- AGREEMENT FOR ASSIGNMENT OF SATELLITE, TELEVISION, CABLE TELEVISION AND OTT PLATFORMS RIGHTS FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD – The Satellite, television, Cable, internal etc. rights of the film are very valuable. This is a precedent of an agreement for assignment of Satellite, television, cable television, OTT Platforms and internet rights.
- AGREEMENT FOR ASSIGNMENT OF AUDIO RIGHTS – The film has audio and musical rights. This is a precedent of an Agreement for Assignment of Audio Rights.
- AGREEMENT FOR ADVERTISING IN A CINEMATOGRAPHIC FILM – It is often observed that indirectly advertising is done in feature films. This is a precedent of an agreement for advertising in a cinematographic film. ACQUIRING SHARE IN THE DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS OF THE
- CINEMATOGRAPHIC FILM ACQUIRED BY THE DISTRIBUTOR/AGENT -The Distributor has already acquired distribution rights to the Film. Someone wants to acquire a share in the said film distribution rights. This is the precedent of an agreement to acquire a share in the Film Distribution rights already acquired by the Distribution.
- WORLD RIGHT CONTROLLER AGREEMENT – The financier has financed the film with the understanding that he will interalia control the World rights of the film. This is a precedent of the World Right Controller.
- NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT WITH THE MUSIC COMPOSER -The Lyrics Writer/Singer wants to engage the services of the Music Composer, however, wants to protect its Confidential information which may be disclosed to the Music Composer. This is a precedent of a Non-Disclosure Agreement with the Music Composer.
- EMPLOYING A MUSIC COMPOSER (DIRECTORS) – This is a precedent of an agreement between the Film Producer and the Music Composer/Director whereby Music Composer’s Services are engaged for the cinematographic film.
- NOTICE FOR INFRINGEMENT OF COPYRIGHT IN THE RELEASED FILM – The precedent of a Notice for infringing copyright in the Film. The Producers are the Owners of copyright in the already released Cinematographic Film. Someone is by making a new film infringing the copyright of the said released film.
- SUIT FOR PASSING OFF THE TITLE OF THE FILM (TRADEMARK) -The plaintiff is the owner and proprietor of the trademark being the title of the cinematographic film. The plaintiff’s application for registration of the trademark is the title of the film is pending. The defendant is attempting to make a film based on the plaintiff’s title and pass off his film as the plaintiff’s film or remake of the plaintiff’s film or in any kind encashing the plaintiff’s goodwill. This is the suit for restraining the defendant from doing so and for consequential reliefs.
Indian media and entertainment are among the world’s fastest expanding businesses. The industry is extraordinarily diverse, highly fragmented, and highly diversified. There is presently an increase in film production investment and a decrease in the shelf lives of films that make it to the theatre. As technology advances and entertainment becomes more accessible to India’s enormous population, the influence that this business currently plays in our daily lives cannot be diminished. As a result, the ever-expanding business necessitates an ever-adaptive legal framework to ensure peace and order.