Entertainment law is the application of the entire legal service to the entertainment industry. That is the application of contract, corporate, finance, torts, bankruptcy law, immigration, securities law, right to privacy, tax law, insurance law, employment and labor law and intellectual property law principles to the interactions between players in the entertainment industry. Entertainment industry consists majorly of film, television, radio, fashion, and print. These segments include movies, TV shows, radio shows, news, music, newspapers, magazines, and books. Serving companies in the media and entertainment industry including film studios/production houses, record companies, content distribution companies, media houses, gaming companies, advertising agencies, publishers, and social networks etc.
In the music business, for example, there are various players and organizations involved. Some of the common players and organizations in the industry include:
- Records labels
- Music publishers
- Songwriters, Instrumentalists, back up vocalists
- Music producers
- Artist managers
- Business developers
- Video directors
- Sound engineers
- Graphic designers
- Booking agents
- Music venues
- Road crew
- Music distribution platforms
- Performance rights organizations etc.
Also In the movie industry, there are various players and organizations involved. Some of the common players, organizations, and activities in the industry include:
- Film production companies
- Film studios
- Film production
- Film festivals
- Film directors
- Crew personnel
Legal issues arise at all stages of the creation of original works of entertainment. This spans from the production stage where formal contracts are drawn to set forth the respective rights of the parties involved in an entertainment work, to the licensing and distribution stage.
Just like the other areas highlighted at the beginning of this discussion, Entertainment law is still in its developing in Nigeria. Especially when compared to countries like the US and UK.
Entertainment law in Nigeria is not developed but other legislations give force to the entertainment industry. For instance, Trademark law governed by the Trade Marks Act, Cap T13 LFN 2004 regulates and protects a brands identity; a trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Copyright law governed by the Copyrights Act Cap C28, Laws of the Federation 2004 provides the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Patent law is governed by the Patents & Designs Act, Cap P2, Laws of the Federation, 2004 which deals with safeguarding rights over scientific/technological inventions from outright copying to the knowledgeable or unknowledgeable incorporation of already patented work and even to the incorporation of such a product that is sufficiently similar to one.
The Nigerian entertainment industry has been estimated to be a huge goldmine that is presently utilized. The global perception is that the Nigerian entertainment industry is one of the country’s most profitable sectors.
The importance of lawyers in the entertainment industry cannot be overemphasized. They incude:
Performance contract: as a business, having a performance contract in place ensures that performances are aware of their obligations and your expectations. Alternatively, if you are a performer, when you receive your performance contract it is pertinent that the terms are clear and you are aware of your rights and obligaton. Consequences can arise out of any breach to a legally binding contract.
Intellectual property: a registered trademark such as a name or a brand, protects original ideas and inventions. It can also distinguish the brand from its competitors by preventing any unauthorized use. The protection of intellectual property in the entertainment industry is a hot topic often because singers, actors and other celebrities can monetize their image and reputation through the sale of goods and services marked with their name or other association.
Employment agreement: as an employee, it is important that your employment agreement specifies your rights and obligations to your employer. In addition, artists, individuals and businesses must also understand the extent of their contractual obligations to avoid any legal disputes and complications.
Author: Adedayo Peter Abiola