March 01, 2013

Entertainment and Sports Law

Richard J. Idell

Through my involvement in leadership of the ABA Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries and my own practice as an entertainment lawyer for live entertainment performances, I have been able to observe firsthand the variety of issues that such practitioners face on a daily basis. At a time when specialization in the legal profession is the rule, lawyers whose day-to-day practice is advising parties in these industries must be multi-disciplinarians. They must be problem solvers with skill sets that cover a broad range of topics and endeavors, ranging from intellectual property to criminal law, from estate planning to rights of publicity. The present-day, multifaceted business models of artists and athletes demand such professional flexibility. Today, artists and athletes have diverse activities and revenue platforms requiring familiarity with a wide range of business and legal issues. In addition, the past decade has seen monumental shifts in the business paradigms of these industries, and practitioners must remain on top of the emerging developments that have resulted from these changes.

For example, in the music/live performance space, the shifts in the dynamics and economics of the “record business” are well known. Online piracy and dramatic generational changes in the buying habits of consumers have led to double-digit percentage reductions in sales of physical products; while online purchases of music have increased, the profits margins are thinner and have hardly picked up the slack.

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