Entertainment Industry

Our full-service firm helps clients navigate the complex entertainment industry.  Behind the spotlights, there are legal matters that impact whether projects are started, finished or successful. 

As one of the preeminent entertainment law firms in the Midwest, our attorneys counsel clients in nearly every facet of the entertainment industry. We represent film and television studios, Internet production studios, production companies, publishing companies, actors, directors, writers, musicians, event promoters and other talent on everything from general corporate matters, including entity formation and tax issues, to industry-specific concerns, such as guild and union issues, production agreements, and film development deals.

As part of our representation, we also provide tailored and strategic intellectual property protection for these entities and the content being created. From initial drafts to final products, we help our clients safeguard their intellectual property, whether under copyright, trademark or trade secret. Our team has helped clients protect the content of their works and select and trademark brand names for their shows, platforms, and merchandise. When necessary, we enforce our client’s intellectual property whether through cease and desist letters or full blown litigation. Our team has a history of success in resolving intellectual property disputes for our entertainment clients.

 Agreements for Traditional and New Media

Our attorneys draft and negotiate contracts for feature film and television productions such as documentaries, scripted and non scripted programming, and primetime network movies. We have done work for popular television Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Desperate Landscapes, and films such as The Fighter, Super Size Me, Home at the End of the World and Napoleon Dynamite. We also served as production and studio counsel for Procter & Gamble Productions on nine primetime network television movies and drafted and negotiated the music licensing agreements for the movies’ soundtracks. Our attorneys drafted and negotiated agreements on behalf of 31st Street Studios, where portions of The Dark Knight Rises and Jack Reacher were filmed, as well as worked with Fox Studios to negotiate location agreements for the film Unstoppable.

Given the dynamic and evolving nature of the entertainment industry, it is vital for effective legal counsel to keep pace with the changes in how content is produced and distributed. To that end, our attorneys have extensive experience in working with companies that specialize in new media productions. For example, we have worked with Maker Studios, an internet production company that creates and licenses content for YouTube. More specifically, we worked with Maker to draft and negotiate several strategic partnership and joint venture agreements, including a landmark deal to launch a new YouTube channel called Picture Show with legendary Tribeca Enterprises, the company founded by Academy-Award winning actor Robert De Niro.

We can provide you with personal, tailored legal services in connection with the following:

  • Development and Shopping Agreements for scripted and non scripted television,
  • Network Licensing Agreements,
  • Option Agreements,
  • Director, Producer, Writer, Talent and Crew Agreements,
  • Production Service Agreements,
  • Merchandising Agreements,
  • Rights and Music Clearances,
  • Composer and Music Supervisor Agreements,
  • Recording Contracts,
  • Music Publishing Agreements,
  • Licensing Agreements,
  • Product Placement and Brand Integration Agreements,
  • Syndication Agreements,
  • Production Structures,
  • Lease Agreements,
  • Location Agreements,
  • Distribution Agreements,
  • Ancillary Rights Agreements,
  • Guild and Union Relationships with SAG, AFTRA, DGA, WGA and IATSE,
  • Coogan law issues,
  • Copyright, Trademark, Rights of Publicity,
  • Screenplay Clearance and Protection,
  • Content Development Agreements,
  • Strategic Partnership Agreements,
  • Content Licensing Agreements,
  • Financing and Investment Deals,
  • Google/YouTube Adverting Revenue,
  • Talent Channel Agreements,
  • Rights Clearances,
  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and
  • Take Down Notices.

Licensing and Intellectual Property Protection

Our attorneys handle licensing deals for clients throughout the entertainment industry, helping them grow their brands and products while also protecting their unique intellectual property. Our experience includes drafting and negotiating licensing and merchandising agreements for a number of well-known properties in the entertainment industry and for all four major professional sports leagues.

While working in-house for a major toy manufacturer, one of our attorneys handled negotiations for Batman and the Star Wars trilogies, the latter of which still ranks as the largest royalty deal in the history of the industry. We have also handled licensing deals for products designed or supported by various celebrities, including negotiating licenses with third-party organizations for the BowTie Foundation and Bow Ties for a Cause, headed by former NFL player Dhani Jones.

In addition to crafting favorable license agreements, we work vigorously to protect our clients’ intellectual property rights through trademark and copyright infringement actions, clearance opinions, and fair use analyses. We have successfully enforced takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by filing actions in federal court to protect our clients from infringement. We also routinely perform clearance checks and fair use analyses for clients to identify potential infringement issues before they surface. We work closely with the U.S. Copyright Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in filing applications for the protection of screenplays, movies, recordings, and merchandise. Our clients include, among others, TeleNext Media (a division of MediaVest), Procter & Gamble Productions, Maker Studios, Muse Entertainment and Summit Publishing.

As a result, our entertainment attorneys are well versed in:

  • Content Licensing Agreements,
  • Ancillary Rights Agreements,
  • Music Licensing Agreements (synchronization, mechanical, and master use),
  • Screenplay Clearance and Protection,
  • Copyright, Trademark, Rights of Publicity Protection and Enforcement (Domestic and International),
  • Rights Clearances,
  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and
  • Take Down Notices.