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Entertainment and Media Litigation
At Robins Kaplan LLP, our entertainment and media litigation attorneys have a strong track record representing film, television, advertising, and music industry clients in California, New York, and around the world. Our extensive experience includes litigating matters in federal and state courts as well as in arbitrations and proceedings before the entertainment guilds, the California Labor Commissioner, and the International Film and Television Alliance.
Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, Musicians and Athletes
Our attorneys have an extensive background representing many high-profile actors, writers, directors, producers, musicians, athletes, authors, and their heirs in claims regarding:
- Breach of contract
- Profit participation
- Violation of the rights of privacy and publicity defamation
- Breach of implied contracts
- Copyright and trademark infringement
- Disputes with entertainment guilds, including the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild, and the Writers Guild West
- Copyright termination issues
- Violations of the Talent Agencies Act relating to disputes between talent and personal managers
Talent Agents, Personal Managers, and Individual Managers
We represent talent agencies in disputes with members of the Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA, the Directors Guild, the Writers Guild West, and Actor’s Equity. We have been involved in proceedings before the American Arbitration Association and before the California Labor Commissioner.
Motion Picture and Television Production
We represent independent motion picture and television production and distribution company clients involved in:
- Employment disputes
- Contract disputes regarding producing, licensing, financing, and distributing motion pictures and television programming
- Profit participations and other accounting disputes
- Intellectual property disputes, including trademark, copyright, idea submission, Lanham Act, and credit claims
Additionally, we have represented producers and independent film distributors in arbitrations before the Independent Film and Television Alliance, including arbitrations relating to film financing and delivery issues.
Music Video Production
Our attorneys provide representation to commercial and music video production companies and individual commercial and music video directors and producers in matters including unfair competition claims, solicitation of directors and producers by competing companies, and disputes with major record labels regarding payment. We represent several post-production and special-effects companies in employment disputes, solicitation of key personnel by competing companies, contractual disputes, and unfair competition and intellectual property claims.
We represent advertising agencies and marketing companies for the products marketed by these companies and in the commercials they produce in matters involving:
- Advertising Compliance
- Copyright Infringement
- Guild Issues
- Licensing Disputes
- Rights of Publicity
- Trade Dress
- Unfair Competition
Other Intellectual Property Owners
Our attorneys also represent other individuals and businesses that are not technically in the entertainment industry with respect to their intellectual property matters. Representative clients include an energy drink manufacturer, a retail clothing store chain, and an electronic goods manufacturer.
Clients and Industries:
- Advertising Agencies and Marketing Companies
- Commercial and Music Video Production Companies
- Entertainment Executives
- Other Owners of Copyrights, Trademarks, Publicity Rights, and Intellectual Property
- Personal Managers
- Post Production and Special-Effects Companies
Selected Case Results*
- Simmons v. Stanberry: Successfully represented Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, in defense of a copyright case related to his 2007 hit "I Get Money."
- Ace Arts LLC v. Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC et al.: $100 million Sherman Antitrust Act claims dismissed against Apple Corps, Limited. Claims alleged conspiracy to prevent distribution of film showing The Beatles’ first American concert in Washington, D.C., in 1964.
- Celador International, Ltd. v. The Walt Disney Company: Represent Celador International, Ltd. in a dispute over profits from the highly successful television show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" A federal jury awarded Celador, the creator of the show, $270 million in damages after finding that Disney's subsidiaries, ABC Television, Buena Vista Television, and Valleycrest Productions had breached their profit sharing contract with Celador and their duty to deal fairly and in good faith with Celador. On September 27, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California awarded $50 million in prejudgment interest to Celador, bringing the total to $320 million in damages. On December 3, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the entire verdict and awarded the plaintiff its costs on appeal. On February 26, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously denied Disney’s petition for rehearing and review of the $320 million jury verdict and judgment in favor of Celador.
- The Ray Charles Foundation v. Ray Charles Legacy Corp.: Obtained judgment and permanent injunction prohibiting the unauthorized use of the Ray Charles name and likeness.
- Represented Cher in an action against a major record company.
- Represented the group Poison in a royalty audit case against Capitol Records.
- Represented producer Kane Beatz in defense of copyright infringement action involving the song “Bottom’s Up.”
- Represented former America’s Got Talent writer in dispute with former talent agent.
- Defended television company in copyright infringement action brought by major television network.
- Defended advertising agency in case by illustrator for copyright infringement.
- Defended advertising agency in case involving breach of contract, rights of publicity, and violations of Lanham Act brought by recording group.
* Past results are reported to provide the reader with an indication of the type of litigation we practice. They do not and should not be construed to create an expectation of result in any other case, as all cases are dependent upon their own unique fact situation and applicable law.
If you are interested in having us represent you, you should call us so we can determine whether the matter is one for which we are willing or able to accept professional responsibility. We will not make this determination by e-mail communication. The telephone numbers and addresses for our offices are listed on this page. We reserve the right to decline any representation. We may be required to decline representation if it would create a conflict of interest with our other clients.
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