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What Is Entertainment and Sports Law?

Entertainment law and sports law covers visual entertainment (movies, television, radio); performing arts (theater, music, personal appearances); media (visual arts, publishing, internet media); and sports, both professional and amateur. Legal counsel handles contract negotiation, labor law, merchandising, media law, and licensing, including name, image, and likeness (also known as “NIL") for amateur athletes.

This is a broad practice area encompassing both state and federal laws.

Important Terms To Know 

  • Copyright: A person's exclusive right to reproduce, publish, or sell their original work.
  • Agent: A person or entity authorized to act on behalf of another in dealing with third parties.
  • Licensing: The sale of a license permitting the use of patents, trademarks, or other technology.
  • Contract: An agreement between parties that tells each one their responsibilities to the other.
  • Defamation: Damage to a person's reputation in either written or spoken form.
  • Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL): The right of an amateur athlete to benefit from the use of their personal information or photographs.

When You May Need an Entertainment Attorney

Anyone involved with entertainers, athletes, or other public figures needs legal advice. Lawyers must know employment, contract, immigration, and intellectual property law to work in the entertainment industry,

For example:

  • A musician may need a special type of visa to work in the U.S. or help with licensing issues. 
  • An award-winning filmmaker in Los Angeles may need help drafting contracts with actors and writers. 
  • A production company in New York may need help with licensing fees for high school theaters. 

Each industry has its own unions, which provide rules and regulations that need to be followed.

When You May Need an Agent

Agents representing actors or professional athletes are often licensed attorneys. In entertainment, there are legal issues such as contract disputes where agents can help their clients.

Agents are important in professional sports to renegotiate contracts with a team or sports league. They also help with endorsement deals involving lots of money. In amateur sports, NIL issues are new but can be complex as deals with sponsors need to be vetted to maintain eligibility. Young athletes hire agents to confirm their sponsorship deals, which will allow them to continue in an amateur status.

Other Pages of Interest

If you are an artist with a movie premiere or a musician with a song ready for the radio, you should make sure you are protected. Contact a sports and entertainment lawyer to help you today.

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