Jun 18 2010

Entertainment Law (3 units)

This course examines the impact of legal concepts and business practices on motion pictures, television, music, radio, literary publishing, theater, and digital media.

Such concepts as First Amendment protections, artist representation, credit, compensation, defamation, privacy and right of publicity, idea disclosure, trademark law, and artistic control will be studied with an eye toward enabling attorneys to effectively address these and other legal issues arising in the entertainment industry. The course focuses on the practical application of these concepts and practices. Students will be assigned various negotiation and drafting problems throughout the course.

COURSE OBJECTIVES - click to expand

  • At the completion of the Entertainment Law course, the student will:
  • be able to apply strict scrutiny analysis to various forms of governmental regulation and evaluate the success of a constitutional challenge to such regulation;
  • be able to analyze the viability of time, place and manner regulations that are applied to entertainment activities;
  • be able to discern the distinction between the role of a personal manager and the role of an agent, as well as the application of the talent agency regulations to various scenarios;
  • be able to draft provisions of a personal manager agreement;
  • be able to determine when a written conflict waiver is required when representing multiple clients;
  • understand the structure of a deal involving a loanout corporation and the necessary contractual provisions;
  • be able to draft an agreement for the personal services of a minor, pursuant to which the parent of the child is made responsible for the obligations in that agreement;
  • know the parameters of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and under what circumstances a court will invoke the covenant;
  • understand the basic operation of a force majeure clause and how it operates among the different branches of the entertainment industry;
  • know how to establish remedies for the breach of an entertainment contract and how to avoid a finding that the claimed damages are speculative;
  • understand the need for errors and omissions insurance, the requirements that such insurance places on an attorney involved in the clearance process for an entertainment project, and how to provide the analysis needed to identify and evaluate risk of legal claims as part of that process;
  • know the process of obtaining a person’s life story rights, the professional responsibility concerns of representing multiple clients, and be able to draft a life story rights agreement that contains a release from liability;
  • know the requirements for obtaining a state common law trademark and federal trademark protection and be able to utilize that knowledge to evaluate a trademark search report and advise a client as to the risks involved in selecting a particular term as a trademark;
  • know the special rules that apply to the protection of titles, characters, and trade dress and be able to advise clients regarding their use;
  • will be able to analyze the multi-factor test for determining likelihood of confusion as the basis for trademark infringement and be able to analyze the four-factor test for injunctive relief – allowing the student to draft a disclaimer that sufficiently reduces the likelihood of confusion;
  • be able to differentiate between an action for trademark infringement and an action for state or federal dilution and know how to bring a dilution action under the theory of blurring or tarnishment;
  • know how to draft an idea submission agreement that will protect a production company or studio from liability when it has received a disclosed idea;
  • know how the various branches of the entertainment industry utilize credit and the content of credit clauses in artist’s contracts; and the approach taken by the SAG, DGA, and WGA basic agreements with regard to credit;
  • know the available forms of compensation and which forms are traditionally used by which branches of the entertainment industry;
  • know how to draft a pay or play clause and under what circumstances the artist is required to mitigate damages;
  • know the options available for contingent compensation, the distinctions between gross profit participation, adjusted gross profit participation and net profit participate and be able to compute the compensation in a variety of scenarios; and
  • be able to apply common law and statutory causes of action to protect the artistic control of artists.

GRADING POLICY - click to expand

  • The grade in this course is based upon three 10 point multiple choice quizzes given at regular intervals throughout the course (each quiz counting for 10% -- for a total of 30% of the final course grade), non-graded “hands-on problems” in preparation of each live class, and an open-book final exam (for a total of 70% of your course grade).
  • The multiple choice quiz questions require the student to show knowledge of the applicable statutory and case law and to apply that law to a specific fact situation.
  • In preparation for each live class, students are required to submit a memo to the professor containing the analysis of each assigned problem in advance.  Although these problems are not graded, they are required.  Failure to provide a timely memo, prepared in good faith, will result in a deduction of one grade increment from the student’s final grade for the course.
  • The final examination is open-book.  “Open-book” means that students may use any of the assigned course materials as well as their own notes and outlines that they have created themselves from course materials.  The final examination consists of an essay question which is weighted as follows: 30% on knowledge of the applicable law; 60% on the application of the law to the new facts that the student had not yet encountered; and 10% on the student’s ability to communicate his/her analysis under time constraints.