Ideas on how to navigate the legal landscape in the Media and Entertainment Industry
Legal issues and contract review in media and entertainment can be very industry specific. Also, although “media & entertainment” is a bona-fide business sector, the stakeholders are typically artistic types, who are often, and rightly so, more concerned with their creative process than they are with protecting their legal rights. This creates an interesting (and challenging) environment in which to practice law. A very interesting Full Sail University panel discussion considers the issues that often arise in this industry. Entertainment Business Master’s Course Director Cassandra Willard and legal attorneys Bill Whitacre, Shannon Ligon and Tom Player give tips in tricks not only on how to enter this field but also pass on their wisdom from lessons learned.
All agree that due to this industry’s unique nature, building and fostering relationships, perhaps more than in any other industry, is integral for success.
“What makes entertainment law different is the unique industry spin on it”, says Tom Player.
While in other industries you may be able to do your continuing legal education online, “In the entertainment industry it behooves you to actually get out and go meet people,” he says.
“Go to conferences. Go to South by Southwest. Go to the Florida Music Festival...you know...Go to the Florida Film Festival! Get other there and meet as many people as you can!”
He also stresses the importance of actually getting to know people and not just handing out cards.
Bill Whitacre also gives a fascinating account of his real life experience representing the producers of the film, “The Blair Witch Project” through the funding and distribution process and even legally clearing the fictional name of a murderer mentioned in the film. This film became a box office success in 1999 despite its makers being penniless students. The Full Sail University panel discussion can be viewed in its entirity here: http://ow.ly/10bLFA .
So how do you ensure you have time for fostering relationships and staying across all the unique legal issues in the media and entertainment industry so that you be be effective and successful? How also do you also ensure you have time to ensure the fruits of this industry and have time for entertainment and relaxation yourself? One way you can do so is by making your contracting processes efficient so you don’t lose time due endless back-and-forth, emails and redlines.
Working in publishing, music, film or theatre production you probably regularly deal with the the following:
- Production, recording, screenwriter and development contracts
- Royalty, licensing and publishing agreements
- Copyright and trademark registration
- Documents for protection of intellectual property and data
- Representation agreements
- Financing agreements
- Partner and joint venture agreements
- Distribution agreements
- Contracts for promotions including co-promotions and sponsorships
- Sales and acquisition agreements, sub-contracts and consulting agreements
- Digital advertising, advertising technology, data rights and software licensing
- Guild/Union and labor issues as well as regulations
- Regulatory issues
Leverage technology to automate some of the menial activities while creating efficient workflows - a modern contract management system could help, as it:
- allows for easy collaboration so that negotiating on contractual terms is as seamless and streamlined as possible - allows for multiple parties to collaborate on the one document at the same time while establishing controls so certain parts of the document can only be accessed by certain people;
- ensures all redlines and changes made to contracts are captured for ease of reference at a later stage if necessary - for example if a dispute should arise;
- creates comprehensive contract workflows so that if one contract relies upon another to be completed before it can be negotiated, or works under it can commence, the process of ensuring all of this is completed in the correct order is automated;
- allows you to easily amend executed contracts where changes in laws and regulations of different jurisdictions or different client needs require this, and broadcast those changes, in bulk, to large groups (such as, customers, suppliers, employees) simultaneously;
- tracks and automatically alerts those responsible for completing work under the contract at appropriate times; and
- allows for digital signature and paper signature where necessary so those in different locations can sign digitally from wherever they are, or they could opt during the execution process to sign a hardcopy document if both parties deem it necessary.
A sophisticated contract management software system that has this functionality will give you more time to focus on other aspects of your role and more time personally to enjoy the products of the industry you’re working in - saving time for entertainment!
ContractRoom, www.contractroom.com, is one such contract management system. To learn more about how you too can “negotiate less, agree more” schedule a live, free demo here: