Globally, the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry is worth a staggering $2 trillion. Of that amount, the U.S. M&E sector accounts for $660 billion. That’s a whopping one-third of the pie!
It’s no wonder, then, that many people aspire to become part of such a bustling field. Indeed, as of 2022, the U.S. M&E industry employed an estimated 1.4 million folks.
If you’re considering joining that crowd, it pays to have a media lawyer on your side. After all, even if a career in this sector could be lucrative, it’s just as rife with legalities.
To that end, we created this guide on how hiring a lawyer specializing in media law can benefit you. Read on to discover what they can do for you and your career.
Help You Choose Your Contracts
According to media lawyers practice contract law. It’s the branch of law governing legally enforceable agreements between parties. All parties that enter a contract assume legal obligations they must complete.
For example, suppose you enter the M&E industry as a graphic novelist. One party you’d go into a contract with is a publisher, which may be an individual or a company.
Your publisher will provide you with a contract of the terms and conditions of their offer. It may include the following:
- Grant of rights and subsidiary rights
- Project timeline, delivery, and acceptance
- Publication methods
- Terms of payments and royalties
Failure to understand your contract may put you at risk of underpayment. For example, you may only get $300,000 when you could’ve gone to another publisher who’ll pay you $500,000.
So, before entering any agreement, hire a media lawyer to help you understand offers. They can also perform contract negotiations to ensure you get the best deal.
Educate You on Contract Rights and Responsibilities
If you sign a contract without understanding its T&Cs, you may commit an error that qualifies as a breach. That can result in the other parties involved pursuing legal action against you. You can avoid such mistakes if you have a lawyer who’ll guide you on your responsibilities.
On the other hand, the other party you’re in a contract with may also breach the agreement. One example is if they fail to pay you the amount stipulated in the contract. In this case, your media lawyer can speak and negotiate with them to get you the payment you deserve.
If the other party refuses or can’t make good on their payment, your lawyer can take matters to court.
Protect You From Defamation-Related Cases
One of 2022’s most prominent defamation cases was the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial.
Depp won over $10 million, while his former wife won $2 million. They both won because the court found they defamed each other.
The above shows how false accusations and claims prevail in the M&E industry. They’re defamatory because, one, they’re untrue, and two, they harm the victims. In the case of Depp, he claimed his former wife’s false statements cost him his work.
Defamation can destroy someone’s reputation and, thus, their career or life. That’s why you, who are about to or are working in M&E, must be careful about what to say or write. If you’re not, the party you’re referring to can sue you for libel or slander.
Libel is when someone writes defamatory statements about another. Slander is when another party verbally defames another.
Having a media lawyer can help you avoid making libelous or slanderous statements. Your attorney can also help ensure those who defame you face the consequences of doing so.
Ensure You’re Not Getting Pirated
Piracy costs the M&E industry billions in lost revenue. Online TV and film piracy alone cost the U.S. economy about $29 billion annually. Such crimes also cost hundreds of thousands of people their jobs.
You can become a victim if your intellectual property (IP) gets used without your consent. If that happens, you can lose a lot of your hard-earned money. After all, your IP is your livelihood’s backbone; it’s your original creative work (e.g., novels, songs, or films).
A media lawyer can help protect your IP through legal copyright services. They can assist you with acquiring, registering, and clearing your copyright. They also have the tools to enforce your copyright and ensure no one steals your IP.
Another way a media attorney can help is by drafting copyright licenses. They can also negotiate assignments and ensure your IP is yours and original.
Help You Maintain a Modicum of Privacy
Another thing the Depp vs. Heard case reminded everyone of is that being in M&E can rob people of their privacy. So when you become a part of this industry, you can expect little to no privacy. After all, you’re now a public figure, and that can expose most, if not all, of your affairs.
The paparazzi, in particular, will be one of your primary concerns, as they can be intrusive. However, they can also be invasive, taking things as far as invading private property. Some of these cases can be downright harassment, which, in turn, can already be a legal matter.
A media lawyer can help protect some of your privacy by working with the authorities. For instance, they may file a protective or restraining order against the invader.
Your legal team can also contact and vet a security company to safeguard you and secure your home. They may also assist you in filing an invasion of privacy claim.
Let a Media Lawyer Help You and Your Career
From helping you with your contracts to safeguarding your privacy, a media lawyer can do all of them for you. They can also help protect your IP and your livelihood. At the same time, they can keep you and your actions in check, especially those that may lead to defamation cases.
All that should be enough reason to hire a media lawyer ASAP. Don’t sign any contract without one by your side.
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