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Article · 22.02.2021

What is entertainment law?

What makes entertainment law relevant in today’s world? The entertainment industry is waking up to the need to protect its rights and brands, and it’s about time, if you ask our entertainment law specialist. He points out that many contract templates currently in use in the entertainment industry are obsolete.

As the name implies, entertainment law is of relevance to the entertainment industry and related sectors, such as sport, art and music. Many of the legal issues experienced in entertainment law arise from intellectual property law (copyright in particular), the law of contract and marketing law, but in many cases they are so specific and custom-based that it is necessary to consult an expert in the field.

Assistant Attorney Morten Jessel, who is based at our Copenhagen office, has seen this many times during his career. Before joining Patrade, Morten was a legal and business affairs manager with Warner Music Group.

“When I worked in the music industry, it was difficult to find an external lawyer who understood that a work of music consists of a recording and a publishing process, two different areas each with a different set of rights,” says Morten.

The recording rights to a work of music are typically owned by a record company, while the publishing part consists of the rights to the composition and the lyrics, typically owned by a record publisher. In other words, a work of music consists of two parts. It is important to distinguish between the two, because if someone would like to use music by an artist in an advertising spot, they would have to obtain permission from both the record company and the record publisher.

The entertainment industry has woken up

Morten is seeing growing interest from record companies, influencers, artists and film producers, seeking to protect and enforce their intellectual property rights.

“Considering the size of the marketing budgets that the entertainment industry operates with, there’s been surprisingly little focus on protecting those rights and brands. But this is finally starting to change.”

Like so many other trends, this one also started in the United States. A recent example is Taylor Swift, who successfully trademarked not only her name but also her lyrics, so that she alone will be able to use them for other purposes, such as merchandising.

Social media and streaming services have accelerated developments

Various issues within entertainment law have developed significantly in recent years, driven by the evolution of social media and the earnings potential available to rightsholders from streaming services in the television, film and music sectors.

“We often advise our clients on marketing issues relating to concealed advertising on social media and about how important it is to focus more on exploitation rights in this new digital reality,” says Morten.

Many contract templates obsolete in a digital world

Morten has extensive experience in drafting contracts, and he notes that many contract templates currently being used in the music and film industry need to be updated to reflect the new digital reality.

“Many of our clients’ contract templates are outdated, because they were made for a market based on the sale of physical products and do not provide adequate protection of rights relating to digital sales.”

Want to learn more?

If you work in the entertainment industry – in film, music or sports, for example – and you need advice on negotiating or drafting various kinds of contract, copyright or trademarking, feel free to contact Morten Jessel