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Kenneth Fukuda

"For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future."
U.S. President John F. Kennedy




Entertainment and Music Law
Entertainment law involves myriad issues that arise in connection with the film, television, and music industries.  Law firms deal with labor disputes, contract negotiations, libel and slander cases, tax issues, and issues related to copyrights and trademarks. Entertainment attorneys may handle immigration law issues involving foreign clients.  Music law protects persons in the music industry and regulates the activities of musicians, record producers, record company executives, and other persons in the industry.
Entertainment law encompasses a wide range of legal issues, including intellectual property, contracts, business, litigation, employment/labor, securities, international, taxation and immigration matters. The exact legal concerns depend on the nature of the business’ work within the entertainment industry. In entertainment law, it is essential to understand the client’s particular business within the industry.
There are various statutes pertaining to the entertainment industry in California and New York.   The majority of entertainment contracts negotiated today are entered into and performed in California and New York.  Because the entertainment industries are embedded in those states, those jurisdictions have extensive regulations of the industry.
There are several trade guilds and unions operating in the entertainment industry. Their agreements cover fee arrangements and working conditions for essential creative and technical personnel.  They manage when a person is a signatory to a union or guild agreement and when the production involves union members.   The union rules impact entertainment clients.
The entertainment business requires extensive documentation. There are a variety of business practices that must be addressed.  Entertainers encounter a wide variety of legal issues such as talent releases, independent contractor tax issues, union affiliation.
Lawyers may be asked to assist in non-legal activities such as serving as an agent, a manager, or an investment advisor for clients. There are complexities associated with non-legal activities. When dealing with entertainment clients, the lawyer must make it clear what can and cannot be done for the client. This is best accomplished through so the client’s engagement letter must articulate the scope of the lawyer’s activities for the client.  A lawyer has fiduciary obligations to the client.
All lawyers starting in the entertainment field are, at one time or another, faced with the quandary of how to bill clients who are unable to pay their traditional fees. Unlike most traditional practice areas, lawyers in the entertainment industry can create varying fee arrangements with their clients. However, in some instances, certain nontraditional fee arrangements may present an entertainment lawyer with professional and ethical problems.
There are concerns regarding structuring fee arrangements which may include non-traditional arrangements, requiring careful attention and ethical and  practical concerns.
Copyright Law
Copyrights protect music and other original works of composition. Registering a copyright in connection with a work of music permits the composer or songwriter to seek statutory damages and attorneys’ fees from any person who uses the work in a prohibited or unauthorized manner. Music companies often manage copyrights for written works, while record labels manage the copyrights for sound recordings. After a musician registers a copyright, it protects the work for 70 years after his or her date of death.  For instance, if the composer of a copyrighted piece dies in 2014, the copyright will continue to protect that work until 2084. If the work has multiple composers, copyright protection extends 70 years beyond the death of the longest-living composer.
Publishing is the primary source of income for musicians writing their own music.  Funds collected from publishing rights is ultimately intended for songwriters i.e.  the composers of works, including the recording artist or performer.  Songwriters often work for a musical group to help them with musical aspects of the composition.  The writer of a song is the owner of and owns the copyrights in the song and is entitled to the publishing revenues.  Copyrights in compositions are not the same as sound recordings. A recording artist may record a song and sell it to another group or company. In that event, the company will own the recording, however, it will not own the song.
The Copyright Act of 1976 is key legislation covering music copyrights.  This legislation differentitates original works from works made for hire, describes an author’s rights in negotiating the use of his or her music and describes copyrights of unpublished works. It describes the duration of copyright protection. Anything published before 1923 is in the public domain and no longer has copyright protection.
The original song writer will own the copyright for the specific song. Publishing revenue derives from the copyright, so the owner will receive the revenue from the song itself.
Successful songwriters join a collection society (such as ASCAP and BMI in the USA, JASRAC in Japan GEMA in Germany and PRS for Music in the UK).  Many will enter into agreements with music publishing companies who will exploit their works on the songwriters behalf for a share of ownership, although many of these arrangements encompass the assignment of the copyright from the songwriter to the music publisher.
The recording music industry and music publishing industry derive their rights from intellectual property law.   The key recording labels and music publishers and several independent record labels and publishers have business and legal departments  which arrange intellectual property rights from recording artists, performers and songwriters.  They exploit those rights and protect those rights throughout the world.
Lawyers advise on music and entertainment law and their clients include recording artists, performers, producers, songwriters, labels, music publishers, stage and set designers, choreographers, graphic artists, games designers, merchandisers, broadcasters, artist managers, distributors and the live events industry which includes festivals, venues, promoters, booking agents and service providers such as lighting and staging companies.
Music publishing broadly encompasses the development of new music, the protection of music, and promotion of the economic benefit of music. Music publishers assist composers by managing the business of publishing in order to allow artists to work on producing new works. Music publishers find new artists, register new works, produce demo recordings and other promotional materials, issue licenses to reproduce or print music, obtain commissions for new artists, monitor the use of music, make royalty payments to artists, and take legal action against those who use music without a license. Music publishing companies utilize publishing legislation to protect their ventures with composers and songwriters.  
If original works of music lacked copyright protection, it would be problematic to prevent others from using these works for profit. Absent copyright protection, music publishers would have no ability to seek damages from those who use original works of music without the proper licenses. Myriad laws control the music publishing industry. The laws permit royalties for public performances, licensing for foreign translations, record deals, foreign monies earned from performances and albums, and print licenses for sheet music. The Fairness in Music Licensing Act of 1998 reduced the number of bar and restaurant owners who must apply for music licenses to play music during business hours at their locations. The Copyright Term Extension Act lengthened the duration of copyright protection for music by 20 years. This law is also referred to as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.
Music licensing
American law treats all artists that perform at concerts and sell merchandise as businesses appropriately.  Groups and bands from other countries encounter myriad laws throughout the world, including health and safety laws, immigration laws and tax legislation.  At the same time, these relationships are governed by complex contracts.
In America, musicians need business licenses and tax identification numbers. The business license necessitates the recording of sales, wages and events.  Musicians that do not comply with the tax ID process and do not report their profits and losses to the taxing authorities face serious consequences with the IRS.
Business Laws
Various business laws administer the music industry. Composers, songwriters, performing artists, music producers, music promoters, and industry executives depend upon contracts, licenses, and other documentation to earn income. Attorneys assist clients to negotiate royalties, review contract terms, negotiate settlements on behalf of their clients, and handle other business and regulatory matters.  
Employment laws protect employees from discrimination and unfair business practices. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 prohibits employment discrimination based on age and sex. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents employers from refusing to hire or terminate employees based on race, color, gender, religion, or national/ethnic origin.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act obligates employers to take actions to prevent workplace accidents and illnesses. This act is essential for persons in travelling musical productions because these performers are at risk for injuries caused by on-stage accidents. Traveling musicians must follow the tax laws in the U.S.  If a traveling performer does work at home, such as making costumes or making business telephone calls, the performer may be entitled to claim a home office expense on his or her tax return.
Music and entertainment law refers to legal concerns involving the entertainment and music industry and legal issues in other parts of the entertainment trade. The entertainment trade includes artists, performers, recording labels, music publishers, merchandisers and live events businesses.
In summary, entertainment and music law incorporate considerations from various traditional legal issues, including intellectual property law (trademark and copyright law, image  and design rights), unfair competition law, contract law, slander, defamation and other areas of the law.  In relation to the live events businesses, there are issues involving immigration law, health and safety law and licensing.



Purchasing A Business
Critical Strategies

Selling a Business
Alternative Strategies

Joint Ventures and Strategic Alliances
Alternative Business Structures

Strategic Alliances
Alternative Business Structures

Business Buy-Sell Agreements
Issues and Solutions

International Ventures & Alliances
International Issues

M & A Strategies - Technology Companies Issues & Deal Points

Distribution Law
California Business Laws

California Limited Liability Company Act
Alternative Business Structure

Employment Law
Termination Issues

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