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Entertainment FAQ

What is entertainment law? 

Entertainment law generally encompasses industries involving motion pictures, television, music, publishing, and theatre. These industries have special economic and business considerations that involve nearly every area of law including copyright, trademark, trade secret, rights of privacy and publicity, securities, tax, tort, corporate law, labor law, constitutional law, international law, and so forth. The law of copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and patents each play a role in protecting creative rights.

The personal service agreement is a primary legal instrument in the entertainment industry. This agreement is negotiated between an artist and a company that manufactures, promotes, and distributes the artist's goods or services. The agreement often commits the artist to produce exclusively for one company for a certain period of time. Personal service agreements are often governed by statutes, and are often the subject of litigation because of the restrictions placed on the rights of artists to perform or create for other entities.

How are royalties earned and collected? 

A significant amount of income for entertainers can be acquired in the form of profits from a royalty agreement. The first step to a royalty agreement begins, for example, when a songwriter pens their original piece. From being produced in tangible form, the artist receives a copyright. The writer then may wish have their song exposed and published by a recording company. The songwriter will assign a copyright to a publisher who will market and promote the material. Those that wish to use the copyrighted material will then begin the process of establishing royalty agreements and be issued a license. The proceeds from the sales and use of the copyrighted material by anyone will then be required to pay royalties to the publisher which represents the writer selected.


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