If you’re working in the entertainment industry -- whether you write scripts, direct movies, perform on a trapeze or produce your own podcast -- you’ll need an entertainment lawyer at some point. From intellectual property to contracts, entertainment law covers a wide variety of legal needs. Working with a great entertainment lawyer can help you protect your rights and interests as an artist, so you can get back to focusing on sound checks and auditions. Priori’s curated legal marketplace is the easiest and most cost-effective way to find the right entertainment lawyer for your unique business.
Contract and Agreements
Entertainment contracts raise a number of industry-specific issues, including:
Personal Service Agreement. Under a personal services agreement, an entertainer typically agrees to work exclusively for one company or other entity in exchange for compensation in some form (often royalties) as well as the production, distribution and promotion of his or her work.
Licensing Agreement. Under a licensing agreement, the holder of intellectual property rights (such as a copyright or trademark) agrees to license the use of some portion of these owned intellectual property rights to a company or entity in exchange for compensation (often an up-front lump sum and/or a percentage of monies earned over time). With respect to licensing agreements, it’s particularly important to consider how and when the agreement may be terminated and what else, if anything, the owner of the intellectual property rights may do with the intellectual property during the term of the agreement.
Work for Hire Agreement. Under a work-for-hire agreement, an individual agrees to create intellectual property on behalf of a company or other entity. The resulting intellectual property -- for example a copyright in the created text or a trademark on the individual’s created design -- will belong to company, not the individual, from the moment the work is created. Such work-for-hire language may appear in both employment documents and independent contractor agreements.
Intellectual Property Rights
As an entertainer or entertainment company, creative work is the lifeblood of your business and you should take care to protect it. A lawyer can help you understand and protect the following intellectual property rights:
Copyright. Artistic works are typically protected by copyright -- the exclusive legal right to the use and distribution of an original work fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Your work is copyrighted from the moment of its creation; however, you must formally register the copyright in order to effectively enforce your rights against infringement.
Licensing. A license establishes a partnership in which a licensee pays a royalty and, in some cases, other compensation, to use the intellectual property rights of a licensor. If you are planning on using someone else’s creative work or someone wishes to use yours, you may need to hire a lawyer experienced in drafting and reviewing licensing agreements.
A skilled entertainment lawyer can help you ensure that your work is protected and that you are following appropriate procedures when exhibiting the work of others.
Foreign entertainers who wish to perform in the United States, or production companies who wish to host them, may need to take immigration requirements into consideration. For example, you may be able to take advantage of a special entertainment visa, known as a P-3 visa, which is offered by the United States. This visa is valid for one year and is extendable under certain circumstances. Similarly, if, as an American, you plan to travel abroad for work, a lawyer can help you understand and comply with the visa and other requirements for working in the countries and cities you plan to visit.
Depending on the complexity of your contracts and agreements, the cost of drafting these documents can vary widely. If you would like to protect your creative work, a copyright application may cost from $95 to $500. Finally, an artist licensing agreement may cost from around $200 to $600. For hourly projects, Priori entertainment lawyers tend to range from $150-$450 per hour. In order to get a better sense of cost for your particular situation, put in a request to schedule a complimentary consultation and get a free price quote from one of our lawyers.
I’m just starting out, when should I reach out to a lawyer for intellectual property protection?
Right away! Taking the time to protect your brand and your creative works will give you a strategic advantage over your competition by helping you build recognition. It’s never too early to consult with a lawyer to ensure you’re taking the appropriate measures to prevent someone else from using your material or taking your ideas.