Find Lawyers in Melbourne, Australia for Entertainment Law

Practice Area Overview

Entertainment Law typically involves advising on the development, financing, production, and distribution of entertainment content. This content can range from traditional film and television programming for exhibition or broadcast, through live performances of dramatic or musical works, to audio-visual games and other content available on-line and via mobile apps.

Entertainment attorneys will typically advise on issues such as the acquisition and exploitation of intellectual property rights (particularly copyright), and compliance with regulatory requirements (such as public fundraising restrictions, privacy, and consumer law issues). Attorneys also will draft and negotiate the many contracts involved in any project, and act in claims for infringement of rights (ranging from infringement of copyright to defamation).

The focus of the legal input tends to vary with each stage of a project’s progress. At the development stage, there is a great emphasis on securing the necessary rights and talent. Frequently, there will be optioning of undertaking works, and writers agreements to be resolved. For some projects, attaching key cast also will be worked on at this stage.

During the financing stage, the focus is on detailed contractual negotiations of the transaction documents which regulate the various sources of funds being paid to the producer. There is a need to reconcile the rights being sold to different parties, and to agree on the order in which revenues from the project will be distributed. Increasingly, there will be complex lending arrangements, which facilitate the producer cash flowing into production components of the finance which may not be payable until after delivery. There also may be government grants, subsidies, and investments to be contracted.

The financing stage often bleeds into the stage where the project goes into production. Here there may be a need for drafting of the cast/talent agreements, crew agreements, location agreements, music contracts, rights clearances, and a myriad of other arrangements which allow the program to be made. There may also be advice regarding possible defamatory material, or content which is misleading or otherwise infringes on IP rights.

The distribution stage is also frequently contracted for during the financing stage, and typically involves the negotiation of contracts for the broadcast, exhibition, and distribution of the program in a range of territories and via a variety of media.  There also may be merchandising and other licensing arrangements for ancillary products. Key issues here include ensuring that rights granted to different parties do not overlap, and that revenues are reported back to the producer or collection agent reliably and regularly. 

Entertainment attorneys enjoy the good fortune of working with creative people in bringing to life often amazing content. There may not always be a prominent credit at the end of the show, but there is always some interesting problem to resolve with the client. 

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Related Practice Areas: Litigation, Sports Law
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