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Quirky and Customized Contract Clauses for Entertainment Industry Clients


Created on May 26, 2017



For lawyers accustomed to handling transactional matters in other industries, entertainment contract clauses can be a bit of a mystery. Traditionally, business models for each area of the entertainment industry have been siloed. They have developed independently in a manner that has served to make a major label record deal look very different from a book deal with a large publishing house, which in turn looks very different from a contract between a TV producer and a major network, which is quite different from a deal between a filmmaker and a studio.

To complicate matters further, with the advent of digital distribution, independent business models are constantly evolving. For example, small book publishers cannot afford to pay the large advances that top authors of yesteryear are accustomed to, and they tend to contract out the printing, distribution and inventory functions of publishing so that it is no longer housed under one corporate roof. This setup requires a completely new type of business arrangement between author and publisher. Content providers for webisode portals and new media platforms have non-traditional ways of dealing with intellectual property rights. Beat maker agreements look nothing like the formal "industry standard" music producer agreement. Creative professionals are experimenting with cutting edge models and how best to share the spoils of new revenue streams.

Moreover, many artists are distributing their work completely independently, cutting out the industry's "middle man" and instead keeping all of the ownership rights and selling directly to their fans. Composers are licensing their songs directly to music supervisors of films and advertising agencies looking for a soundtrack for a commissioned commercial. Virtual reality deals present liability issues that go way beyond the standard copyright infringement concerns that traditional entertainment industry contracts focus on.

All of this creates an opportunity for lawyers to think outside the box, to cast aside tried and true precedents and instead, to develop contract clauses out of whole cloth. In this course, attorney Deborah Hrbek will review the new types of business models that are gaining traction in various areas of the entertainment industry, and sample clauses and contracts that will get participants thinking about how to structure original written agreements specifically designed for a cutting edge, fast-changing industry. 

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Review various ways in which entertainment contract terms have evolved in different segments of the entertainment industry
  2. Provide practical tips for how to craft new contract clauses that specifically address a unique business model in the industry
  3. Discuss ethical issues involved with providing business advice rather than purely legal advice, and how to stay on the right side of the line

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