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3 Situations When You Should Consult an Entertainment Attorney

You’ve probably heard the term Entertainment Attorney before, but do you know what an Entertainment Attorney does, or how to distinguish them from attorneys practicing in other areas?   Some people may assume that any attorney familiar with contracts can adequately assist with an entertainment industry agreement, but what most don’t realize is that an experienced entertainment attorney will bring industry knowledge to the table that can only be gained by being immersed, and these lawyers can help you understand what’s normal in a particular situation. 

Here are 3 instances where you should consider seeking out an attorney with experience in the entertainment industry:

  • When you’re presented with a talent agreement 

With the rise of reality TV, more and more individuals are being presented with talent agreements to prominently appear in network programs.  If you decide to appear on a reality show, you should have an entertainment attorney review your agreement with you. An entertainment attorney can advise on the ins and outs of what to look for and help you set your expectations.  If the show is centered around you or your family, an entertainment lawyer can help you negotiate fair compensation and identify and push back on aggressive network terms prior to you signing on the dotted line – they can also help you determine your leverage and identify provisions that may carry some risk (such as hidden camera language or language regarding misrepresentations). 

  • When you’re developing a concept for film, TV or new media

Oftentimes collaborators will dive in head-first on the creative side of their project without thinking of the broader implications, much less the paperwork.  If you’re working to develop the next big thing with your buddy, you should consult an entertainment attorney early in the process in order to make sure you’re protecting your interests and planning for success.  An entertainment attorney will likely have useful anecdotes and knowledge of what could go wrong in the absence of proper planning. They can also advise on copyright matters and can give their perspective on what the networks may ultimately require in terms of papering certain deals during the development process.   Even if you’re creating your concept on your own, it’s wise to consult someone with experience in the field so that you can create a roadmap for your project, legally speaking. 

  • When you’re asked to sign a release in connection with a production 

Maybe you’ve appeared briefly in a television show, or perhaps production company would like to use your property to film.  Either way, you’ll most likely been presented with a release agreement to sign. The release of claims that typically accompanies this kind of document can be alarming for those who aren’t in the know, and other attorneys may flag this language as highly problematic.  While it’s certainly important to understand what you’re getting into, an entertainment attorney can help you understand whether or not the release language in your deal is industry standard or overly broad. They can also suggest language modifications that networks and production companies will typically accept in order to better protect your interests.  

This is by no means an exhaustive list – there are a number of situations in which the input of an experienced entertainment attorney can be incredibly valuable.   The key is to recognize when it’s appropriate to bring one onto your team.  

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