This week I discovered Gordon Firemark's Entertainment Law Update Podcast series. I've listened to three episodes so far:
Firemark, G. (2012, February 1). Episode 28 - Political campaigns, combat helicopters, and Batmobiles. Entertainment Law Update Podcast. Podcast retrieved from iTunes.
Firemark, G. (2012, March 29). Episode 29 - 360 deals, rights of publicity, and more. Entertainment Law Update Podcast. Podcast retrieved from iTunes.
Firemark, G. (2012, April 29). Episode 30 - JOBS Act, crowdfunding, limited editions. Entertainment Law Update Podcast. Podcast retrieved from iTunes.
One can learn a lot from experienced entertainment attorneys like Gordon. Several lessons stood out from the three podcasts.
While my company has not been involved in production of the Batman films, I did meet the person who built the Batmobile for The Dark Knight. He was very proud of the design, and said he would let me see it. He also created the Speed Racer car, which I did get to see in person. In Episode 28, Mr. Firemark discusses legal issues that arose when a company made and sold Batmobile lookalikes. The company claimed it was a fair use because the vehicle was functional and therefore not subject to trademark law, but the courts decided certain features of a vehicle’s design could be trademarked. Therefore, it is necessary to license a unique design before producing and selling a lookalike vehicle. My question is, who owns the right to the Batmobile likeness, the comic creator or the person/vehicle artist who made the Batmobile car for the movie? This is a question I should consider if I hire this person to build cars for future films.
Episode 29 deals with 360 deals. Some record companies are in trouble for charging fees for putting together an entire 360 deal, when their contracts only entitle them to commissions on part of the deal. In one case, charging the fee led to canceling of the entire contract and loss of all fees, but this does not appear to be the trend. It is important for my company to make sure any fees are fully outlined in my contracts, so I don’t invalidate my contract by charging a fee that is not allowed. This is just one more reason why a good entertainment attorney should be involved in any major transaction.
One option my company has looked at for funding certain projects is crowd funding. Episode 30 discusses the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups), which is intended to jumpstart businesses through crowd funding. Mr. Firemark goes through the many challenges that are currently affecting implementation of the law. It appears that he is planning a conference later this year to teach people how to prepare to take advantage of the new form of funding the moment it is available. It costs just over $300 to attend the conference, and I look forward to attending.
I also look forward to keeping up with future Gordon Firemark Entertainment Law Update podcasts. A total of seven are available on iTunes right now, and I’d love to dig up archives for other episodes applicable to my business interests.
Thanks for reading!