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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Entertainment Law Tips

Working in the entertainment industry is a thrilling and fast paced environment that creates a lot of excitement.  Unfortunately it can also create a lot of problems when it comes to the legal side, like copyright and trademark issues as well as remembering to collect all the necessary forms and agreements from all parties involved in anything you do.  I was recently able to discuss some of these common issues in the entertainment industry with Deborah Hrbek, a senior attorney and founder of Hrbek Law LLC.

Deborah received her law degree at King's College, Cambridge University, and went on to qualify as a barrister in England.  Focusing her practice on entertainment and small business law, Hrbek represents creative professionals, entrepreneurs and artists, including indie labels, TV and film production companies, directors, talent, writers, managers, spokespersons, musicians, filmmakers, visual artists, graphic artists and photographers, as well as investors in the arts.  Hrbek's Featured Client artist roster includes an Oscar winning film production team, Internet sensation "Obama Girl," and a novelist short-listed for the Booker Prize.  To read more information about Deborah or her law firm from her companies website click here.

The first thing we talked about was how to avoid getting into copyright and trademark issues.  Deborah said the best thing to remember is if you ever find yourself dealing with anything you didn’t create yourself, for example when making a commercial using someone else’s music in it, make sure you have the correct permission to use it from those who legally can give it.  Even the smaller items like graphics pulled of the Internet can cause problems if used without permission, so make sure everything you use for commercial production avoids copyright and trademark violations.  If you have any other questions with copyright or trademark laws and policies check out the USPTO website by clicking here.

Deborah and I also discussed when working on productions for things like commercials, you need to make sure to get all the proper agreements that go along with the production.  Some of the agreements you will need include a performer agreement, director agreement, location agreement, and for the production company a production services agreement.  This seems like it may be overwhelming, but Deborah said a good way to cover yourself is to have some sort of written agreement with every person involved in the project your doing.  These agreements protect you by detailing the terms of the agreement, which states exactly what each party expects.  Also depending on the nature of the work, non-disclosure agreements can help protect your work even further.

All these agreements and licenses require proper legal documentation, and unless you have prior knowledge, the best thing to do before getting involved in big productions is to get help from an entertainment lawyer.  Remember its better to be safe than sorry, especially when you and your company are on the line.



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