• Entertainment

    Areas of Focus

    We Understand Industry Diversity
    Few industries rival entertainment in the diversity of its products (film, theatrical, Internet and concert performances, broadcast and cable television, recorded music, written works from books to scripts) and players (artists, producers, directors, writers and a host of business advisors). Manatt entertainment attorneys work regularly with the full spectrum of entertainment industry participants and represent the interests of all key business and creative players.

    Film and Television Companies

    Manatt has advised motion picture and television writers, directors and executive producers, as well as studios, networks and independent production companies on the development, production and exploitation of hundreds of films, both scripted and reality televisions series and programs. Our counsel covers everything from First Amendment issues, to financing and syndication, to international production and distribution agreements.

    Film and Television Talent

    Manatt represents top producers, actors, directors and writers working in film, television and the Internet, including many who redefine traditional boundaries and act in multiple capacities. Our attorneys advise "crossover" talent and companies simultaneously operating in the film, television, Internet and music fields.

    Independent Distributors and Producers

    Manatt has a strong reputation for representing independent producers and distributors of film, television, video and Internet products for both the U.S. and international marketplaces. We work with our clients from the formation and funding stages through production and delivery of the finished product, including the issues that arise from global distribution rights. Our attorneys have a practical feel for acquisitions, licensing and corporate matters.

    Internet and New Media Ventures

    We are deeply involved with the new and non-traditional ways in which entertainment is delivered to the consumer. Our attorneys have substantial experience in theme park design and construction, first-run syndication, production for video and cable, the development and use of production facilities outside Hollywood, the video game industry, video publishing and the complex and constantly evolving issues concerning content licensing and exploitation over the Internet and wireless devices. Our particular areas of technology focus include: 

    • Digital music:  We represent various online companies and Internet and wireless service providers, individual creators of music, record companies and music publishers in every type of agreement pertaining to the digital distribution and licensing of musical material. Our attorneys have prepared agreements for Internet promotions of musical entertainers and product, webcast agreements, streaming agreements and agreements for sales of traditional musical content over the Internet. Among other successes, we represented the first established artist to license sound recordings to Emusic for digital downloads and have advised a number of independent record labels in exclusive catalog licenses with a prominent distributor of digital downloads.
    • Interactive games:  We work with game developers, publishers and distributors, as well as a broad range of traditional entertainment industry clients who partner with game companies to develop games that include, or are based on, elements of popular culture. Understanding that interactive games may include live action footage, copyrighted characters and stories and celebrity names and likenesses and may themselves be made into movies or television shows, we assist our clients with all issues of intellectual property, entertainment, advertising, Internet and general business law.
    • Video:  Our professionals are involved in all musical aspects of production for the home video marketplace, representing performers and home video production companies in everything from initial agreements and manufacturing to home video exploitation.
    • Internet/Wireless Services: Manatt is involved in all aspects of the production of content for Internet and wireless services and the distribution of content over the Internet and wireless devices. We represent major portals and individual websites providing Internet content and entities that are delivering audio and audiovisual content over wireless and other "new technology platforms." We represent individual producers and companies that finance, produce and license content to the Internet and for wireless devices.
    Music and Recording Participants

    Manatt attorneys have in-depth experience that meets the needs of all major participants in the music business, including recording artists, songwriters, recording companies and independent record labels, music publishers, producers and concert promoters. We represent them in commercial negotiations involving record and production deals, publishing agreements, side artist agreements, catalog acquisitions, copyright protection, concert agreements and Internet-related issues that include music downloading. We have particular insight into the most specialized industry issues, such as California's seven-year rule on recording contracts and the needs of motion picture and television production entities in contracting with music artists and record companies for music used in films and television programs.

    Promoters and Concerts

    Our music lawyers handle the contractual aspects of worldwide concert tours for both performer and promoter clients, including contracts with promoters, sound and light companies, stage designers, insurance companies, concert halls and ticket agencies and negotiations for tour sponsorship.

    We Solve Industry Problems

    Although the entertainment industry has some of the same business, financial and intellectual property issues found in other industries, many of its legal concerns reflect the unique nature of its products and participants. Manatt entertainment attorneys understand the general and the specialized problems our clients face and are skilled at resolving them effectively.

    Advertising, Marketing and Sponsorship

    Our powerful relationships with advertising agencies, artist representatives and celebrities, formed by years of experience as one of the premier law firms in the entertainment industry and strengthened by the firm's substantial Advertising, Marketing and Media Practice Group, are the foundation for our counsel on advertising, endorsement licensing and sponsorship opportunities for clients. We work with artists and companies from all media, including motion pictures, television, the Internet and new media, music and recording to negotiate and structure agreements that benefit all parties. With our comprehensive practice strengths, we can handle the trademark and copyright details, ensure compliance with advertising laws and regulation, resolve labor union or guild issues and settle such corporate and business points as compensation and royalties. We have particular skill at helping artists protect all rights to their names and likenesses through trademark registration.

    Employment and Talent Agreements

    We represent numerous entertainment companies in preparing and negotiating contracts with their talent employees, and we engage extensively in the counseling of these companies with regard to entertainment guild matters. Our attorneys also frequently serve as counsel to talent management companies and individual talent managers in negotiating agreements with their artist clients.

    Finance

    Manatt attorneys represent lenders, borrowers and public and private investors in the U.S. and in the major capital markets throughout the world, as well as other providers and users of capital in the entertainment industry. We negotiate and document loans for particular projects, as well as complex overall credit lines and "slate" deals. We have extensive experience with traditional negative pick-up and "gap" financing structures, as well as more complex structures, including such innovations as insurance-enhanced lending, complex multi-distributor "split rights" financings, foreign co-financings and foreign tax shelters. We also negotiate and document sophisticated joint ventures, private placements, public offerings and equity fund financings. We have also negotiated numerous audit disputes in the motion picture, television, recording, publishing and merchandising industries. Our recording industry audits have involved active pop and rock music performers and the estates of deceased performers, and we have handled audits involving current television shows and classic motion picture productions.

    Mergers and Acquisitions

    Our attorneys have assisted clients in the acquisition and disposition of entire businesses, of equity interests in publicly and privately held media and entertainment entities, asset acquisitions and dispositions and in merger transactions. Because of our in-depth knowledge in the entertainment industry, we are able to bring to these transactions the requisite level of expertise in assessing intellectual property rights and similar industry-specific knowledge.

    First Amendment, Defamation and Right of Privacy

    Manatt entertainment attorneys have advised television news and magazine programs, publishers, motion picture companies and performing artists in disputes over their First Amendment rights.

    International Entertainment Ventures

    Manatt attorneys regularly advise non-U.S. media companies on how to enter and do business in the U.S. entertainment industry, as well as assist U.S. companies with problems they encounter in global markets. We advise these groups and individuals on how to structure split rights and rights acquisition transactions and represent some of the largest entertainment companies in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Canada on a variety of new entertainment ventures.

    Trademark & Copyright Issues

    For artists and production companies, the use of intellectual property protected by trademarks and copyrights is a vital and complex concern. Manatt attorneys are experienced with all legal and business issues involving these works and provide focused counsel at each stage of their use and protection.

    • Production companies: We advise companies in the creation, registration, protection and use of trademarks and titles, in merchandising ventures, in the acquisition and exploitation of film libraries and in other businesses such as retail catalog sales, advertising and video games.
    • Writers and authors: Manatt represents many book authors, screenwriters and their estates in negotiating book publishing, literary option and screenplay writing agreements and related issues.