Entertainment and Media

Armed with deep industry connections and a rich knowledge of Hollywood’s political landscape, Venable attorneys offer astute and effective counsel to clients in all areas of entertainment and media.

We work with clients in film, television, home entertainment, direct response, advertising, and digital media to resolve disputes and to structure, negotiate, and document business transactions. We also advise entertainers, athletes, executives, and other talent on legal issues ranging from estate, tax, and business planning strategies to advertising, sponsorship, and co-branding opportunities.

Our attorneys have broad experience in copyright, trademark, and right-of-publicity cases, and we frequently represent clients in breach-of-contract, fraud, accounting, and unfair competition disputes. We counsel on libel, slander, and related First Amendment issues, as well as wrongful termination and discrimination claims.

Venable represents the interests of production companies, distributors, television networks, motion picture studios, and talent agencies in all types of contractual and intellectual property disputes. Our team has also defended and prosecuted an array of commercial disputes concerning specific performance, accounting, and partnership issues.

In addition to assisting with labor, guild, and employment issues—from drafting agreements and compensation plans to litigating employment disputes, should they arise—we place a significant focus on claim prevention to help alleviate the need to embark on costly and time-consuming litigation.

Connecting Entertainment, Commerce, and Technology

Strong, enforceable contracts are critical to parties at all points of the entertainment and media spectrum. Venable’s experience is an asset to producers, production companies, distributors, and investors who need to shape deals that anticipate and address their business and legal concerns. We have a thorough knowledge of film financing and guild practices, and we negotiate all types of agreements—from content distribution and production financing to book deals and product licensing.

With new technology accelerating changes in content delivery, identifying future streams of income—such as those from digital rights—can help creative and financial contributors realize sustained returns. We are attuned to the connections between entertainment, commerce, and technology, so we can help our clients spot opportunities to expand the use of content and increase audience size.

Comprehensive Tax, Estate, and Business Planning

Our team works alongside business managers, personal managers, agents, financial advisors, and entertainment attorneys to address the various tax- and business-related needs faced by their clients.

We craft tax and charitable planning strategies, form complex estate and tax plans, and advise on international tax issues. We also counsel on the tax ramifications of the sale of intellectual property and other transactions while advising on a broad array of income tax-related concerns.

Our attorneys assist clients in forming, purchasing, and selling businesses and in advising on such matters as contracts and agreements, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures.

Lending Your Name to an Ad Campaign

Businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations can build credibility and awareness through the use of entertainers and athletes in marketing campaigns. When opportunities like these arise, we work to ensure that the deals provide maximum value for all parties involved.

Venable attorneys provide guidance on branding relationships and opportunities, sponsorships, and placement co-ventures and productions. We also help develop alternative marketing and distribution strategies for entertainment properties.

Practice Focus

  • Advertising and sponsorships
    • Branding relationships and opportunities
    • Co-ventures
    • Entertainment property marketing and distribution
    • Joint ventures with nonprofits
    • Marketing and advertising campaigns
    • Product placement
    • Sponsorship
  • Business planning
    • Formation and operations
    • Mergers and acquisitions
    • Partnership agreements
    • Strategic alliance
  • Entertainment professionals
    • Asset contributions
    • Charitable planning
    • Estate and tax planning
    • Income tax issues
    • International tax issues
    • Tax controversies
  • Litigation and dispute resolution
    • Breach-of-contract
    • Claim prevention
    • Copyrights and trademarks
    • Discrimination
    • Fraud
    • Intellectual property disputes
    • Labor and employment issues
    • Libel, slander, and First Amendment issues
    • Trade secrets
    • Unfair competition
    • Wage-and-hour claims
    • Wrongful termination
  • Product development and production
    • Advertising
    • Contract negotiations
    • Development and production funding
    • Financing
    • Licensing and distribution
    • Merchandising
    • Post-production
    • Project development
    • Rights acquisition

Experience
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In recent matters, we have represented:

  • More than 40 commercial producers in an industry-wide wage-and-hour class action suit
  • A major advertising agency in a $40+ million indemnity action against its former client
  • A nationally recognized sports writer in defense against defamation claims
  • Internationally prominent athletes and celebrities in a variety of matters
  • Independent film producers in a $5 million fraud and breach-of-contract suit brought by foreign investors
  • A famous sculptor in blocking a release of the home video of a major motion picture on grounds of copyright infringement
  • A public company in setting up its multiplatform advertising campaign for its cornerstone product
  • A major manufacturer of internet protocol solutions in litigation against its competitor and certain former employees—the case involved claims of theft of trade secrets, patent infringement, copyright infringement, and other claims
  • A major independent feature film group in advice on production transactions and financings, as well as in handling issues that arise during filming, such as labor and employment disputes
  • A successful author in negotiating one of the largest book publishing deals in history and then in resolving a long-running dispute over the movie rights to one of his books—our understanding of rights acquisitions in the film industry enabled us to work with the producer’s attorneys to agree on a settlement favorable to both sides
  • One of the largest commercial production companies that was hired by a major Hollywood studio to produce an entertainment project—we guided the producers through the intricacies of working for a major studio, including dealing with rights issues and the expectations of unions and others throughout production
  • An international luxury brand in connection with its spokesperson agreements with Hollywood celebrities
  • Various clients on product-distribution issues—including protecting intellectual property embedded in products and services, implementing distribution models, advertising and marketing, developing legal strategies, and protecting market share