Reality Television: Copyright Issues and Participant Contracts

(961 Ratings)

Produced on: November 24, 2014

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 65 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Join attorneys Amy Goldsmith and Ethan Bordman for this timely and entertaining program on the legalities of reality television.


In this course, Ms. Goldsmith focuses on the copyrightable elements of reality television, from scripts to the finished product, and explains what parts are copyrightable and which are not.  She also presents several well-known cases where “copycat” shows were litigated and their outcomes (“Survivor,” “The Apprentice”), including current unresolved matters, such as the allegations of copyright infringement involving feature film Elysium and Univision’s Q’Viva! The Chosen. 


Additionally, entertainment attorney Ethan Bordman presents contractual and other issues that have arisen in popular shows (“The Bachelor,” “Storage Wars,” and“Duck Dynasty") and considerations for individuals who participate in these programs.  He also explains why “unscripted” television does not always mean “unwritten.” 


Learning Objectives: 

I.   Know your rights: understand content ownership, what is copyrightable and what isn’t protectible 

II.  Understand how production companies work and implement standard content transfer policies 

III. Grasp the unique clauses in Reality Television Contracts 

IV. Recognize aspects that affect programming  




Ethan Bordman

Ethan Y. Bordman PLLC

Ethan Bordman represents authors, screenwriters, producers, directors, and actors, guiding them through the legal and business matters they face in bringing their dreams to the screen. He also assists investors and filmmakers in financing motion pictures. Mr. Bordman earned a law degree from the University of Detroit School of Law, a master’s degree in Entertainment Law from the University of Westminster in London, England and a master’s degree in International Sports Law from Anglia University in Cambridge, England. He also holds an M.B.A. from the Prentis School of Business at Wayne State University.  

Before starting his law practice, Mr. Bordman worked for the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists (AFTRA), a national performers’ union. While at AFTRA, he coordinated television and radio projects for networks such as ABC, CBS, FOX, CTV (Canadian Television), TNT, and Lifetime Networks. Mr. Bordman is the former Chair of the Arts, Entertainment and Sports Law section of the Michigan State Bar. He is currently a member of the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law committee of the New York State Bar. He practices entertainment law in New York, Michigan, and Illinois.

Amy Goldsmith

Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP

Amy Goldsmith

Successful, profitable businesses share certain characteristics: immediately recognizable brands, desirable products or services, and a strategic plan which minimizes legal risks. Amy B. Goldsmith, a Partner at Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP, provides practical legal advice and connections to grow clients’ businesses with an emphasis on intellectual property.  She will advise you whether your trademark is available in the US and globally, if patents should be a part of your strategy, and if your design team’s new product shares too many features of the competition’s copyrighted bestseller. She will design contracts that make sense. If a dispute is on the horizon, she will be by your side until a fair resolution is reached.

Ms. Goldsmith protects the global interests of national and international clients in a variety of industries, including pet products, fashion, financial services, marketing automation, publishing, medical devices, and consumer and designer goods.

She is a director of the New York Women's Bar Association. She is also a member of the New York City and American Bar associations, a Superlawyer and is on the Board of Directors of Savvy Ladies, a non-profit whose mission is to educate women to be financially savvy.

She is a frequent lecturer on intellectual property topics for Lawline, and she is the author of several articles pertaining to intellectual property for Tableware Today magazine.

Ms. Goldsmith received her B.S. from Cornell University in 1982 and her J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 1985.

Before joining Tarter Krinsky & Drogin, Ms. Goldsmith was a Partner at Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman, P.C.


John H.

Great first half, good second half - overall very useful info.

Henry G.

Ethan and Amy were both very informative and effective speakers.

David M.

Informative and very good overall.

Peggy C.


Erica R.

Great course.

Erika J.

Excellent course!

Kelvin B.

Good integration of the two subject matters--reality tv and intellectual property.

Patrice V.

Great overview!

Lewis S.

Super fascinating!

Paul G.

Very interesting topic!

Tali S.

Very interesting.

Marlon S.

Materials were excellent.

Ronald D.

Speakers did a nice job

Marie Q.

Great program.

Jeffrey V.

Interesting and informative, one of the beste

Richard R.

Very good - and I loved the topical Johnny Fairplay reference.

Lena V.

This course was very interesting.

Suzanne R.

interesting and timely.

Valerie W.

Very well done.

Rodrick W.

the dual instructor concept was a first-I thought that Ethan Bordman's presentation was good and Amy Goldsmith's presentation very informative. I will look up the 9th Circuit case outcome

Ayisha R.

very interesting subject area, should have been longer.

Andrew W.

Interesting to hear how things are moving away from reality shows and more to scripted due to syndication/repeats, did not know of the trend

julie y.


Eric C.

Entertaining and interesting.

Jamilee K.

I really enjoyed the contract segment of this course. But both speakers did a good job.

Melissa H.

Very engaging.

Harold H.

Both instructors were thoroughgoing and clear. Good information was given.

Lauren K.

Fun program.

David M.

Both instructors were good in my opinion. I liked them each.

Stephen K.

Excellent coverage of the subject for first introduction.

Lisa A.


Sharon C.

This was so interesting!

Hwesu M.

Interesting and informative.

Charles L W.

I believe more introductory material by both presenters would have enhanced understanding of this field of law.

Andrew S.

good job

Wendy Y.

interesting topic and great presenters

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