"What do media & entertainment lawyers do?"

Key Facts

The area of law governing the media and entertainment industry can be quite broad. The industry taps into quite a few disciplines. 

The most common disciplines for the media and entertainment legal sector are:

1. Contracts / Commercial

2. Intellectual Property

3. Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution

4. Regulatory and Compliance

5. Tax

6. Finance

7. Torts

8. Privacy 

Generally, 'media lawyers' will be commercial/IP lawyers as this is where the majority of the work sits. 

Which legal topics are covered in this area of law?

Defamation - i.e. libel and slander - defamatory material has been published that adversely affects a person's reputation. 

Film and Film Finance - this will include copyright protection for films (so iP law) and the way films are financed (usually films will need funding which can be sourced through means such as private equity, government backed schemes or bank finance). 

Internet - this will include advertising, e-commerce, digital marketing, domain names, social media, cybersecurity, website contracts etc. 

Music - largely IP related issues, particularly copyright. 

Privacy - consents and rights in relation to publishing films and images of people. 

Social Media - this includes blogs, social or business networking sites, digital media sharing sites, crowdfunding sites, wiki sites. 

Telecoms - mobile phone services, radio, telephone calls and face to face meetings, satellite and generally any communication providers. This area of law is largely covered by the Communications Act 2003. 

TV - TV services are largely regulated by the Audio-visual Media Services Directive 2010/13/EU as amended by Directive EU 2018/1808. 

Each of the above topics will have specific regulation and legislation relevant to it (i.e. there is no one size fits all legislation so you'll need to read around each topic as you approach it in your trainee seat or upon qualification). 

How does it work in practice?

Example: Social Media Influencer 

What type of legal issues will a social media influencer come across and when will they need a lawyer? 

  • Commercial/contracts - influencers regularly deal with different companies and brands and entering into 'partnerships'. This is a commercial arrangement and will need a contract. 

  • IP issues - i.e. issues such as the use of trademarks that crop up in an influencer's relationship with a company/brand. 

  • Litigation - an influencer may come across issues such as defamation, harassment, IP infringement, data protection etc. 

  • Tax and/or Wealth Management - influencers make lots of money so they may seek legal and financial advice on how to be more tax efficient and manage their money for long term planning. 

Typical tasks of a media lawyer / trainee

The usual lawyer tasks of client relationship management, project management, drafting documents and building a client portfolio are all required for media and entertainment lawyers. 

Specific legal documents and agreements a trainee in this area may be required to draft could include: 

  • Notice and Take Down Letters

  • Letter of Claim and Response to Letter of Claim 

  • Correction and Apologies

  • Actor's Agreement

  • Director's Agreement

  • Distribution Agreement

  • Equity Investment Agreement 

  • Terms and Conditions for websites 

  • Social Media Brand Ambassador (Influencer) Agreements

  • Social Media Policies

  • Music Publishing Agreements