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Entertainment, Sports & Leisure Law

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Artists

Key Takeaways:

  • Lawyers have a legal duty to represent their artist client's best interests.
  • Entertainment lawyers can negotiate artist agreements to protect their clients' legal rights.
  • When artists have a legal dispute, an entertainment lawyer can represent them in court.

Many artists prefer to focus on something other than the business side of their creative work. But having contracts and agreements in place can protect your intellectual property rights and make sure you are compensated for your work. You can avoid several legal issues with a properly negotiated artist’s contract.

If you are an artist getting established in the entertainment industry, it can help to talk to an entertainment law attorney. Legal counsel can help you negotiate the terms of the agreement to protect your original work and trade secrets.

What Is an Artist Attorney?

An artist attorney is an entertainment lawyer who works with artists, galleries, dealers, and agents. Entertainment lawyers generally work in transactional law and litigation. Transactional law refers to legal planning, contract negotiation, and drafting agreements to protect artists’ legal rights.

Entertainment law litigation has to do with legal disputes between different parties. In litigation, your attorney can file a civil lawsuit against other parties involved in breach of contract claims, copyright law claims, or agency agreement disputes. An art industry lawyer can also represent you in alternative dispute resolution settings, including mediation and arbitration.

Are Agents Different From Entertainment Lawyers?

Entertainment lawyers are very different from entertainment agents. One of the areas where they may overlap is negotiating deals for their clients. Agents generally have an agent agreement or management contract to represent artist clients in exchange for a commission. The commission is generally a percentage of what the client earns.

An artist lawyer has all an attorney’s legal and ethical duties and responsibilities. Lawyers have an ethical and legal duty to their clients as fiduciaries and have a duty to protect confidential information and a duty to act in the best interests of their clients.

For example, if an agent can make more money from a deal that compromises your work, the agent may want to make that deal because they earn more money. But an attorney would have an obligation to tell you about any risks to your reputation by making certain deals.

Lawyers can also give you legal advice. Agents can only give legal advice if they are also licensed attorneys. It is against the law for non-lawyers to practice law and give legal advice.

Artists’ lawyers can also represent you in court. If you file a lawsuit because another party is making unlicensed derivative works based on your art, your attorney can sue and fight for your interests.

Lawyers for artists generally don’t make money based on a commission. Attorneys typically charge based on upfront fee agreements, usually based on an hourly billing rate, retainers, or flat-fee agreements.

When Do Artists Need an Entertainment Lawyer?

The art world has many different aspects, and artistic representation does not apply equally to all types of art. Different types of artists may have different needs, including:

  • Visual artists
  • Performance artists
  • Multimedia artists
  • Dance artists
  • Sculptors

Many artists only think of contacting an entertainment lawyer once something goes wrong. But, many of the benefits of using a lawyer involve getting legal advice before anything goes wrong. Art industry legal services can include reviewing entire agreements and negotiating the terms of the agreement.

Many art and agent agreements are general templates that don’t protect artists’ interests or account for common subject matter disputes. Your attorney can make sure the artist and license agreements address all issues of concern, including:

  • Artist’s obligations
  • Artist’s and moral rights
  • Period of time and effective dates
  • Contract breach
  • Warranties and representations

An art world lawyer can help avoid many legal disputes with proper planning and preparation. But when legal disputes arise, an entertainment lawyer can take action to protect your artistic, financial, and reputational interests.

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