February 13, 2012
In the unlikely area of central Pennsylvania, entertainment law is at the forefront of the minds of some of the students at Widener University School of Law. Here on the Harrisburg, PA campus, students have the opportunity in my class to fully immerse themselves in the legal issues that arise in entertainment law, particularly for the 21st century entertainment law client.
The course provides a practical and comprehensive overview of the business and legal issues arising in the entertainment industry, including motion pictures, television, music, book publishing and ethics. The topics include intellectual property fundamentals, acquisition of rights, the players and process of client representation, key contract provisions in various sub-industries within the larger entertainment industry, and project financing and structure in the film industry.
The course surveys the various areas of the law that impact the entertainment industry, such as contract, business organizations, securities, labor, copyright, trademark and right of privacy/publicity law.
In addition, students also benefit from guest lectures by successful Widener Law alums who practice entertainment law. This year, Justin Wineburgh, partner and head of Cozen O’Connor’s Media, Entertainment and Sports Law practice and Todd Shill, partner and co-founder of the Rhoads & Sinon‘s sports and entertainment practice, will visit to discuss their areas of expertise and answer questions.
We are currently involved in a law firm simulation in class where the students are divided into five law firms, each maintaining their own websites and blogs and tracking entertainment law issues. Additionally, thanks to TotalAttorneys.com, the students have free licenses to establish a virtual law office for this firm simulation.
Meet the “Firms” …
- Chickchat LLC: “Law school simulation ::: Not an actual law firm ::: Just Chicks… Chatting… About the Law…”
- The Dumas Firm: “An Exclusive Entertainer’s Non-Firm”
- Creative Protection LLC: “The Best NON Law Firm in the World”
- wRAP JhAM Associates: “This is a law school simulation NOT an actual law firm; however the blog topics are real. Therefore, we have 99 problems, but litigating the topics we post ain’t one!”
- The Mentally InFirm: “The Mentally InFirm is a [fake] law firm focusing primarily in the practice areas of copyright and sports law.”
One of their first assignments was to create an appropriate disclaimer to let site visitors know that they are not licensed attorneys or an actual firm but that the issues and stories about which they blog are in fact real. Each firm has a senior partner and together they developed a firm profile and the profiles of each of the student “attorneys”.
I marvel at how each faux firm has developed its own character and focus, much in the same way actual firms come into their own. With an optimal blend of case law, hot topics, ethics and practical skills, these students are well on their way. I am confident they will be fully equipped to understand the unique issues presented by entertainment clients and to solve the challenging and nuanced problems presented by intellectual property ownership and licensing for entertainment clients in the 21st century.
I invite you to visit their Web sites, follow their blogs and comment about the hot topics they discuss weekly.