The Talent Agencies Act: Time For A Change

Edwin F. McPherson - Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal - Com/Ent (Summer, 1997)

Introduction

Several years ago, the Talent Agencies Act1 was an effective tool for regulating unscrupulous agents and would-be agents, and the Labor Commissioner was a rigorous enforcer of the law. In fact, as recently as two to three years ago, the Act was interpreted and enforced uniformly and strictly, and wreaked havoc on the personal management profession?2

However, citing budget cuts and other unspecified staffing problems, the Labor Commissioner, apparently hoping that the problem will simply go away, has left much of the enforcement and interpretation of the Act up to the courts.3 Superior Court judges do not understand (or do not care to understand) the Act, and appellate justices appear to be just as confused.

Labor Commission Cases

A. Hurley v. Rockit Enterprises, Inc.

Although in theory the Act is still designed to prevent gross abuses, some of the greatest abuses (against the artists who have the greatest need for the protection afforded by the Act) are left unchallenged. One such instance occurred in Hurley v. Rockit Enterprises, Inc. ,4 which was filed on behalf of a rock band named “Wild Boyz” on September 3, 1992. In the suit, the band claimed that Rockit Enterprises, Inc. (“Rockit”), the band’s manager, and Polaris Records, Inc. (“Polaris”), the band’s record label,5 were guilty of violating the Talent Agencies Act6 by unlawfully booking the band into several venues across the country without a requisite Agency license.7

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Endnotes:

1. CAL. LAB. Coma §§ 1700-1700.47 (West 1989).

2. See generally Edwin F. McPherson, The Talent Agencies Act – A Personal Manager’s Nightmare, L.A. LAW. (June 1994).

3. Since the original preparation of this article, the Labor Commission, particularly Miles Locker and Thomas Kerrigan, have taken a much more proactive role in connection with the Act.

4. Labor Commissioner Case No. TAC 70-92 (1992).

5. Both companies were owned and operated by the same individuals.

6. CAL. LAB. CODE §§ 1700-1700.47.

7. More specifically, the unlawful activities alleged were: (1) procuring, offering, promising and/or attempting to procure employment for the band without a talent agency license; (2) demanding unconscionable fees and compensation from the band for illegal

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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