Entertainment, Sports & Business Litigation

 General Entertainment, Sports & Business Litigation

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Management/artist disputes

California’s Talent Agencies Act, found at Cal. Labor Code Section 1700, et seq., provides that only licensed talent agents may “procure” employment for artists in the entertainment industry. Managers may never procure employment for artists. The definition of “procure” has been expanded to include any negotiation of any term of an artist’s employment agreement, meaning that nobody that is not licensed as a talent agent in California may negotiate any term of any personal services agreement. The California Labor Commissioner has the exclusive jurisdiction to decide all cases involving the Act. The attorneys at McPherson Rane LLP have unparalleled experience representing talent and managers, and acting as expert witnesses, in connection with Talent Agencies Act cases.
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Leaving (Band) Member Disputes

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Right of publicity disputes

Artists and athletes often work very diligently in their career to create a general acceptance and good will for their names, voices, and likenesses, the effect of which is to create an absolute and transferable property right with a substantial commercial value in the eyes of the public. That right is called a “right of publicity.” Right of publicity cases typically involve the misappropriation of one’s name, likeness, or voice for profit. Our firm has handled numerous cases involving the protection of rights of publicity.
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Right of Privacy

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Defamation

It has been said that one’s reputation is one’s most important asset. In the case of an entertainer or an athlete, an otherwise solid reputation might be irreparably damaged overnight by false and disparaging statements. Our firm actively protects our clients’ reputations by sending ceases and desist letters and filing defamation actions when necessary when our clients are libeled (defamation in written form) or slandered (defamation in oral form).
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Minors’ contracts (Court Approval)

California law allows record labels, record distributors, music publishers, motion picture production companies, television production companies, talent agents, and others to seek Court approval of entertainment industry contracts involving minors. If an employment agreement involving a minor artist or athlete is not Court approved, the minor can “disaffirm” (get out of) the agreement at any time until shortly after the minor turns 18. The effect of Court approval is that, once approved, the minor is unable to disaffirm the contract at any time. Our firm routinely obtains Court approval of minors’ contracts.
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Audit Claims/Net Profits

Accounting in the entertainment industry is not like accounting in any other industry. The entertainment industry is the only industry in which generally-accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are not used. What is used are extremely complex and lengthy definitions of net profits and royalties, pursuant to which record labels, music publishers, movie studios, and television studios often cheat their artists out of millions of dollars. Our firm guides those entertainers through the complicated audit process, and litigates when the claims cannot be settled.
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California Seven-Year Rule disputes

California has a unique law limiting personal service contracts to a maximum term of seven years.  These claims, typically filed in the music industry, involve termination of such contracts after seven years, often resulting in litigation over whether or not the artist has provided the contractually-obligated number of albums or other obligations after the expiration of the seven years.
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Insurance coverage and bad faith

Some insurance companies appear to be in the business of nothing more than denying claims, while others consistently “do the right thing.” With a significant background in insurance coverage and bad faith, our firm has a longstanding history of vigorously protecting policyholders, primarily in the entertainment and sports industries, against insurance companies that have failed and refused to comply with their promises and obligations under the policy. Much of our work in this area involves our prosecution of cases against insurance companies that refuse to provide a defense to our clients in litigation for which there is a potential for coverage.
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