Media and Entertainment Law is a diverse field of legal studies which entails Contract Law, Corporate Law, Intellectual Property Rights such as Copyright Law and laws pertaining to Broadcasting, Cinematography, Information Technology etc.
The major stakeholders in the Media and Entertainment Law industry are:
- Film Industry: Includes Film Production Houses, Actors, Crew Members, Directors, Screenwriters etc.
- Music Industry: Includes Music Production Houses, Artists and Managers, Singers, Songwriters, Lyricists, Record Labels, Composers etc.
- Advertisement Agencies: Including Influencer Marketing
- OTT platforms
These major stakeholders own creative copyrights which are subject to Copyright Protection. For instance, screen play writers write numerous stories and plots for films, television series, games etc. The creative copyrights of screenwriters are their ideas and stories which they pitch to producers.
1. Film Industry
The film industry as a stakeholder encompasses:
- Film Production Houses,
- Film Cast,
- Screenwriters etc.
At the development stage, when the screenwriters sell or pitch their ideas to the producers, Media and Entertainment lawyers carry out numerous tasks such as script review and due diligence, script legal research and vetting, screenwriter's agreement, screenplay agreement etc.
At the pre-production stage, Media and Entertainment lawyers are crucial for finalisation and execution of contracts between actors and producers, location agreements, agreements with the crewmembers etc.
At the production stage, Media and Entertainment Lawyers prepare production agreements, co-production agreements etc. Co-production agreements are entered into between two or more production companies for the purposes of dividing responsibilities such as preparation of budget, capital raising, securing talent etc.
At the post-production stage, it is imperative that all the necessary credits are given to everybody involved in the making of the film or television series. All post-production agreements and related transactions have to be carried out by Media and Entertainment lawyers.
In the case of Fox Star Studios v. Aparna Bhat, 2020, the film 'CHHAPAAK' was released on 10th January, 2020 without giving credits to Respondent no. 1/Plaintiff Advocate Aparna Bhat who represented the acid attack survivor Ms. Laxmi Agarwal upon whom the film 'CHHAPAAK' is based. Advoacte Aparna Bhat gave her valuable inputs in the making of the film 'CHHAPAAK' but received no acknowledgment for the same.
Hon'ble Delhi High Court held that, since the film had already been released on the 10th January 2020 both in India and abroad, the film 'CHHAPAAK' will not be showcased in cinemas with effect from the 15th January 2020 unless Plaintiff's name is mentioned in the opening credits of the film as follows:
"Inputs by Ms. Aparna Bhat, the lawyer who represented Laxmi Agarwal, are acknowledged."
The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi further barred the Petitioner/Defendants from releasing the film 'CHHAPAAK' on any electronic platforms such as television, DTH platforms, internet entertainment, streaming platforms etc. without first mentioning the Plaintiff's name in the opening credits in the aforementioned manner.
2. Music Industry
The music industry as a stakeholder encompasses:
- Music Production Houses,
- Artists and Managers,
- Lyricists etc.
Numerous agreements pertaining to the Music Industry are provided hereinunder:
- Music Production Agreements: Production Agreements are entered into between studio owners, managers, producers etc. and the artist, band or a record label for the production of Master Recordings.
- Music License Agreements: Music License Agreements are entered into between someone who owns the copyrights of the music i.e. the artist and another party in order to grant certain rights to the other party to use the composition in exchange for suitable monetary consideration in the form of royalties.
- Synchronization Agreements: Synchronization Agreements are entered into between the owner of the copyrights of the music and another party who wishes to sync the composition with any visual content such a feature films, movies, video games etc.
- Music Composition Agreement: Music Composition Agreements are entered into between Music Composers and Producers relating to the composition of music for a film.
- Music distribution Agreements: Music Distribution Agreements are entered into between the artists or a record label and the music distributors for the distribution of physical records to the public or the distribution of recordings digitally through streaming platforms such as Spotify.
- Exclusivity Artist Agreements: Exclusivity Artist Agreements are entered into between Artists and the Production Company. The Recording Artist agrees to render their services for making the Master Recordings in exchange for royalties.
3. Advertisement Agencies
Advertisement agencies are one of the major stakeholders of Media and Entertainment law.
Advertising contracts are entered into between Advertisers and Advertisement Agencies. In these agreements the Advertiser authorises the Advertisement Agency to prepare and display the advertisements of products assigned by the Advertiser in exchange for sums payable by the Advertiser to the Advertisement Agency. The Advertiser must ensure that no third-party rights are breached by their content. In case of any losses or damages caused to the Advertisement Agency because of infringement of rights of a third-party by the Advertiser's content, the Advertiser will be liable to indemnify the Advertisement Agency for such losses or damages.
The recent trend in the Media and Entertainment Law is the surge of influencer marketing. Influencers are omnipresent in Social Media at the present time. Covid-19 lockdown resulted in a boom in the influencer marketing industry because the majority of the population resorted to viewing influencer-made content on Instagram reels, YouTube shorts etc. to idle away time. Thus, influencers have gained a massive audience. Famous brands try to leverage this authenticity of influencer marketing to their advantage.
Advertisements by way of influencer marketing are a subset of the Advertising Industry. It is an emerging field in the Media and Entertainment Law.
In order to protect the rights of both Advertisers and Influencers, the two parties enter into an agreement that grants the Influencers the right to advertise the products assigned by the Advertiser in exchange for sums payable by the Advertiser to the Influencer. This kind of advertisement is known as paid promotion.
4. OTT Platforms
OTT Platforms are another major stakeholder of the Media and Entertainment Law. In this digital era, OTT Platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar etc. are highly popular among all generations as a means of viewing movies, web series, shows etc.
Production of content on OTT Platforms occurs in a manner similar to the film production process.
Screenwriters can pitch their ideas to the OTT Platform, for instance, Netflix, through an attorney, licensed agent, producer etc. Netflix does not accept any unsolicited submissions. If an OTT platform such as Netflix, likes the idea, it will buy the content.
Once the content is available on the OTT Platforms, being a creative copyright, it is subject to Copyright Protection. However, pirated versions of content are widely accessible to viewers nowadays through torrent sites, Telegram etc.
Media and Entertainment lawyers come to the rescue by rendering Anti-Piracy enforcement services. They detect online piracy and infringing torrent websites by conducting website checks.
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6. Fox Star Studios v. Aparna Bhat, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 36
7. https://musiciansunion.org.uk/legal-money/job-contracts-and-business-agreements/specimen-agreements-for-music-business/specimen-production-agreement#:~:text=The%20most%20common%20form%20of,or%20large%20independent%20record%20company. (last visited on 5 August, 2023)
8. https://imusician.pro/en/resources/blog/most-important-contracts-music-industry (last visited on 5 August, 2023)
9. https://www.lexisnexis.co.uk/legal/guidance/ip-music-agreements (last visited on 5 August, 2023)
11. https://www.contractscounsel.com/t/us/advertising-contract (last visited on 5 August, 2023)
12. https://www.manatt.com/uploadedfiles/areas_of_expertise/advertising_marketing_and_media/contract%20between%20advertising%20agency%20and%20advertiser%20commission.pdf (last visited on 5 August, 2023)
13. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/readersblog/lawspective/legal-considerations-of-influencer-business-54908/ (last visited on 5 August, 2023)
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.