Entertainment & Media

Entertainment & Media

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney serves the interdisciplinary legal needs of artists, business owners and established companies in the entertainment and sports industries. In media, the firm works with both the traditional and New Media facets of that dynamic industry.

Entertainment Law

Buchanan represents clients in the fields of music, literary publishing, television/motion pictures, theatre and the visual arts. The firm represents performers, authors, artists, athletes and others in contractual negotiations, tax and financial planning, licensing and intellectual property matters involving their talents, works and persona.

Our experience and capabilities in entertainment law field include the following:

    Music. Our lawyers represent individual musicians, bands, record companies, recording artists, record producers and production companies, recording studios, songwriters, music publishers, concert and event producers and promoters, and performance organizations such as opera companies, repertory jazz orchestras, symphonies and ballet companies.

    Literary Publishing. Our lawyers represent authors, illustrators, publishers, book packagers, playwrights and others in a wide variety of activities and media, including print and electronic. Among other things, we negotiate literary agency agreements, publishing agreements and electronic publication agreements.

    Television & Motion Pictures. We represent television stations in the negotiation of contracts with their on-air and off-air talent, including news anchors, reporters, producers and directors and reporters. We represent actors, writers and other professional talent in negotiations with production companies, stations and networks, and individuals and estates in the negotiation of literary rights options to produce motion pictures and television shows based on their life stories. Our lawyers also represent independent film producers and video production companies in a broad range of issues, ranging from rights acquisitions to financings.

    Theatre. Our lawyers represent regional professional theatre companies in connection with a wide variety of matters, including rights acquisitions, production agreements, touring agreements, union issues and commissioned works.

    Visual Arts. Our lawyers represent painters, sculptors and other fine artists, artwork lithograph producers and photographers with the protection, licensing, sale and other commercial exploitation of works of visual art. We also represent purchasers of works of art and counsel regarding the rights and obligations under the Visual Artists' Rights Act.

    Multimedia. We have significant experience in all aspects of multimedia law in both the CD-ROM and Internet media, including representation of video game developers, webcasters and other Internet-based content providers. Our experience extends to commercial exploitation of traditional entertainment properties through new multimedia outlets.

Media Law

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney has a nationally recognized media law practice. Our attorneys assist broadcasters, webcasters, journalists and publishers in traditional media issues including access to public records and courtrooms, newsroom subpoenas and search warrants, prepublication review, defamation and invasion of privacy defense, as well as intellectual property, employment and labor, commercial transactions, licensing and general corporate matters.

We represent national and regional clients throughout the country, including some of the nation's most prominent publishers of newspapers, books and magazines, as well as television broadcasters, webcasters and cable operators.

Among other clients, we have represented the following:

    Defamation, Privacy & the First Amendment

    • A national book publisher in an action brought by celebrity death-row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, who sought to enjoin publication of a book about his murder trial and appeals.
    • A national media conglomerate and one of its regional newspapers in a libel action filed by a Pennsylvania businessman alleging $54 million in damages relating to Indian casinos in California.
    • A major national magazine when a Pennsylvania physician filed a multimillion-dollar libel action in connection with an article about physicians with troubled pasts.
    • A best-selling police author and his nationally renowned publishers in libel, copyright and civil rights claims filed by a former death-row inmate. The case reached the United States Supreme Court.
    • Two television stations and a reporter in a lawsuit over a story about criminal proceedings in which a former county detective claimed that a news story wrongly stated he was undergoing a "psychiatric evaluation."
    • A television station when a police officer charged with civil rights violations sued for defamation after being mentioned in a newscast.
    • A national newspaper when a former prison counselor sued over a story about a major sports figure's alleged sexual relations with a fellow staff member.
    • A national newspaper when a former police inspector sued over an article on the investigation of threats on the life of a United States Senator.
    • A national publisher when sued by a source in reporting a story about a nationally known sports broadcaster.

    Newsgathering, Media Access & Newsroom Subpoenas

    Among many other examples are these highlights of our work for clients:
    • We intervene and gain access to sealed records in civil, criminal and juvenile cases in state and federal courts.
    • We represented a national news wire service in successfully seeking access to documents filed under seal in a high-profile asbestos-related bankruptcy case.
    • We were lead counsel for a consortium of Pittsburgh media seeking to obtain the police videotape of the arrest and beating of a motorist. We secured the videotape over the objection of the District Attorney, enabling our client to "scoop" its competitors by broadcasting the videotape before they were able to obtain a copy.
    • We have represented a television station in connection with the repeated attempt by a District Attorney's office to obtain reporters' work product by police search warrant. After negotiation and threatened litigation, the prosecutors have discontinued the practice of using search warrants.
    • As lead counsel for a consortium of media outlets, we obtained emergency review by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which issued an opinion requiring state-court pretrial criminal proceedings to be open to the media, expanding Pennsylvania law beyond federal constitutional requirements.
    • We counsel newsroom staff on newsgathering techniques involving possible invasion of privacy, tortious interference, misrepresentation and other newsgathering torts.
    • We routinely respond to and, when appropriate, resist newsroom subpoenas that are frequently used to attempt to obtain reporters' work product on matters relevant to pending litigation.
    • We frequently provide pre-publication review for potentially defamatory or otherwise actionable content.
    • We also regularly respond to newsroom "emergencies" such as threatened prior restraints and other expedited proceedings involving the newsgathering and publishing process.
    • We provide "legal" training and updates for newsroom management and staff.

    Labor Counsel for Media Clients

    Our work in counseling clients in labor and employment matters includes the following examples:
    • Our lawyers have negotiated contracts and litigated employment claims in state and federal courts for media clients nationwide. These include negotiations and counseling regarding union contracts and labor/employment matters in Pittsburgh, Boston, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Sacramento, Fayetteville (AK), Burlington (VT), Monterey (CA), West Palm Beach (FL), and in conjunction with national media acquisitions, and multi-state federal court litigation.
    • We have represented media clients across the nation in grievances under collective bargaining agreements, decertification petitions and National Labor Relations Board proceedings.
    • We provide employment advice and handle employment litigation for Internet content providers. In addition, we have litigated, or consulted on, restrictive covenant matters in more than 50 state and federal courts, and are recognized as a national authority.

Advertising Law

Our lawyers regularly counsel both traditional advertising agencies, as well as interactive agencies and other companies focused on Internet advertising and marketing, telemarketing and direct marketing, contests and sweepstakes, multimedia creation and other technology-based advertising activities. We serve as counsel to some of the largest and most successful advertising and interactive agencies in the country.

New Media

Our lawyers also have significant experience with the areas of "New Media" and the emerging laws of the Internet and e-commerce, including:
  • Multimedia law for emerging technologies such as webcasting, Web publishing and development. Web-based clients, including multimedia product developers and creative content providers, in connection with licensing matters, rights acquisitions, "work made for hire" agreements, independent contractor agreements, joint ventures, distribution agreements, source code escrow, support services agreements, website development agreements, right of privacy and right of publicity review and general financing and capital-raising matters.
  • Development of confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, both internal and external, to protect valuable proprietary information.
  • Web-based "click wrap" agreements such as terms of use, membership agreements, terms and conditions and privacy policies.
  • Internet-specific transactions, including domain name acquisition, sale and dispute resolution as well as Web advertising issues resulting from banner advertising, linking agreements and search engine exposure.
  • Protection of intellectual property rights through copyright, trademark, trade secret and patent advice and execution and enforcement through "cease-and-desist" notifications and trade secret and intellectual property litigation.
  • B2B and B2C e-commerce transactions and issues involving electronic data exchange (EDI), application programming interface (API), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and communication and implementation.
  • Product developers and creative content owners in connection with licensing matters, rights acquisitions, "work made for hire" agreements, independent contractor agreements, joint ventures, distribution agreements, Web site development agreements, right of privacy and right of publicity review and general financing matters.