Did Marathon And Preston Kill The Talent Agencies Act?

Edwin F. McPherson - Southwestern Law Review (May 2009)

Edwin F. McPherson*


California’s Talent Agencies Act (the “Act” or “TAA”),1 which regulates licensed talent agents and prohibits anyone without a license from acting in that capacity, has long needed an overhaul. Despite tremendous (and justified) criticism of the Act by personal managers, attorneys, business managers, and other industry professionals the California Legislature has chosen not to amend the Act, perhaps succumbing to the intense lobbying by the Association of Talent Agents and the powerful talent agencies that comprise the Association.2

However, two court cases this year have severely restricted the grossly expanded interpretation that the Labor Commissioner and the California courts have given to the Act over the last several years. In Marathon Entertainment, Inc. v. Blast,3 the California Supreme Court, for the first time, addressed the doctrine of severability in conjunction with the Act, and held that one, or even a few, isolated violations of the Act do not necessarily render the entire agreement (or multiple agreements) between the parties void and unenforceable.4

The Labor Commissioner had determined in numerous cases that one act of “procurement,”5 irrespective of how many years or even decades ago Edwin F. McPherson is a partner of the entertainment litigation finn of McPherson Rune LLP in Century City, California. He has written numerous articles on the Talent Agencies Act, and frequently serves as a consultant and expert witness in connection with the Act.

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1. CAL. LAB. coma § I700 (West 2003).

2. See, e.g., Edwin F. McPherson, The Talent Agencies Act.‘ Time for a Change, 19 HASTINGS COMM. & ENT. LJ. 899, 9l9 (1997).

3. I74 P.3d 74I (Cal. 2008).

4. Id. at 755.

5. “Procurement“ has been defined by the Labor Commissioner to include any act of negotiation. See. e.g., Hall v. X Mgmt., Inc., No. TAC I9-90, at 3I (Cal. Lab. Comm‘n Apr. 24, 1992).

Edwin F. McPherson

Mr. McPherson is a frequent author and lecturer. He has handled numerous matters involving copyright infringement, trademark infringement, management/artist disputes, rights of publicity, rights of privacy (including internet privacy and stalking), record production and distribution, music publishing, defamation, motion picture and television production and distribution, breach of implied contract (submission cases), net profits, unfair competition, WGA, DGA, SAG and AFTRA disputes, wrongful termination and other labor-related matters, insurance coverage and bad faith, legal malpractice, and general civil litigation. In addition, Mr. McPherson has served as a consultant and expert witness in connection with the California Talent Agencies Act, about which he has written numerous articles.


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