Entertainment law, also referred to as media law, is legal services provided to the entertainment industry. These services in entertainment law overlap with intellectual property law. Intellectual property has many moving parts that include trademarks, copyright, and the "Right of Publicity". However, the practice of entertainment law often involves questions of employment law, contract law, torts, labor law, bankruptcy law, immigration, securities law, security interests, agency, right of privacy, defamation, advertising, criminal law, tax law, International law (especially Private international law), and insurance law.
Much of the work of an entertainment law practice is transaction based, i.e., drafting contracts, negotiation and mediation. Some situations may lead to litigation or arbitration.
Entertainment law covers an area of law which involves media of all different types (TV, film, music, publishing, advertising, Internet & news media, etc.), and stretches over various legal fields, which include corporate, finance, intellectual property, publicity and privacy, and, in the United States, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
For film, entertainment attorneys work with the actor's agent to finalize the actor's contracts for upcoming projects. After an agent lines up work for a star, the entertainment attorney negotiates with the agent and buyer of the actor's talent for compensation and profit participation. Entertainment attorneys are under strict confidentiality agreements, so the specifics of their job are kept top secret. But, some entertainment attorney's job descriptions have become comparable to those of a star's agent, manager or publicist. Most entertainment attorneys have many other roles as well such as assisting in building a client's career.
As the popularity of media became widespread, the field of media law became more popular and needed leaving certain corporate professionals wanting to participate more in media. As a result, many young lawyers fledged into media law which allowed them the opportunity to increase connections in media, and the opportunity to become a media presenter or an acting role if such an opportunity arose. As technology continues to make huge advancements, many lawsuits have begun to arise which makes the demand for lawyers extremely necessary.
Entertainment law is generally sub-divided into the following areas related to the types of activities that have their own specific trade unions, production techniques, rules, customs, case law, and negotiation strategies:
- FILM, including option agreements, chain of title issues, talent agreements (screenwriters, film directors, actors, composers, production designers), production and post production and trade union issues, distribution issues, motion picture industry negotiations distribution, and general intellectual property issues especially relating to copyright and, to a lesser extent, trademarks;
- INTERNET, including Censorship, Copyright, Freedom of information, Information Technology, Privacy, and Telecommunications issues;
- MULTIMEDIA, including software licensing issues, video game development and production, Information technology law, and general intellectual property issues;
- MUSIC, including talent agreements (musicians, composers), producer agreements, and synchronization rights, music industry negotiation and general intellectual property issues, especially relating to copyright (see music law);
- PUBLISHING and PRINT MEDIA issues, including advertising, models, author agreements and general intellectual property issues, especially relating to copyright;
- TELEVISION and RADIO, including broadcast licensing and regulatory issues, mechanical licenses, and general intellectual property issues, especially relating to copyright;
- THEATRE, including rental agreements and co-production agreements, and other performance oriented legal issues;
- VISUAL ARTS AND DESIGN, including fine arts, issues of consignment of artworks to art dealers, moral rights of sculptors regarding works in public places; and industrial design, issues related to the protection of graphic design elements in products.
Defamation (libel and slander), personality rights and privacy rights issues also arise in entertainment law.
Media law is a legal field that refers to the following:
- Copyright: In Golan v. Holder, the Supreme Court ruled, in a 6–2 vote, the judges dismissed contentions in light of the First Amendment and the Constitution's copyright provision, stating that the general population was not "a class of sacred centrality" and that copyright insurances may be extended regardless of whether they did not strive for new attempts to be made.
- Internet: In 2007, Viacom, a media aggregate that possesses MTV and Comedy Central TV, sued YouTube for $1 billion in light of copyright infringement claims for the unapproved posting of Viacom copyrighted material. In May 2008, YouTube began utilizing its advanced fingerprinting innovation to secure copyright-ensured content.
- Television: In an 8-0 choice, the Supreme Court held that in light of the fact that the FCC rules at the time did not cover "short lived exclamations," the fines issued against Fox were unethical and subsequently discredited as "illegally unclear".
- Music: Kesha v. Dr. Luke – In 2014, singer Kesha filed a civil suit against music producer Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, also referred to some as Dr. Luke for gender-based hate crimes and emotional distress. This civil suit caused Gottwald to in return sue Kesha for defamation and breach of contract. This case ended with a judge declining to release Kesha from her binding contract that prohibited her from continuing her career effectively. The judge took note that Kesha had entered an agreement after she had sworn under oath that no harassment was taking place. Many celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Demi Lovato have shown support for Kesha in an attempt to broadcast the injustice contract laws have played in the outcome of this case. Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to relieve Kesha of any financial obligations.
- Katie Armiger – In 2016, singer/songwriter Katie Armiger claimed that a handful of DJs’ at radio stations across the United States harassed her during her radio tour while her record label, Cold River Records, justified it by telling her that radio programmers are her ticket to fame. Cold River Records caused defamation and false light against Armigers’ character when they challenged her in a court case that played out in the public eye. Cold River Records held Armiger hostage in a lengthy prosecution that forbade her to release new music or perform live by strictly enforcing the terms and legality of her record contract. Because of this, Armiger lost countless fans with her lack of presence on social media and most likely lost credibility as well by not giving her fans an explanation. There is no law created for instances like this where an artist is unable to breach their contract immediately when harassment is involved. Libel per quod can be applied to this case by showing that Armiger’s statements show plenty of proof and negligence on not only Cold Rivers’ behalf but the DJs’ behalf as well. In the end, Armigers’ character was defamed and a false light was shone upon her when Cold River Records’ head Pete O’Heeron claimed that Armigers’ suit was baseless. Defamation, false light and contract laws have played a significant role in Katie Armigers’ reality through her pursuit to breach her contract with Cold River Records.