Media and Entertainment Laws

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 What Is Media and Entertainment Law?

Media and entertainment laws govern the legal areas commonly found in the entertainment industry. This typically includes intellectual property issues but may also involve questions regarding:

  • Employment law;
  • Contract law;
  • Immigration law;
  • Advertising law and;
  • International law.

This article will examine the common areas of media and entertainment law, which include:

  • Communications and media;
  • Cyberspace law;
  • Entertainment law;
  • Gaming law;
  • Sports law; and
  • Television and radio broadcasting.

If an individual has any questions regarding issues related to media media and entertainment, they can consult with a business attorney.

Communications and Media

Media laws govern the regulation of communications. Communications and media laws involve:

  • Constitutional law;
  • Broadcasting law;
  • Defamation issues;
  • Privacy concerns and;
  • Other related issues.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates this area of law. For more information regarding communications and media, please see the following LegalMatch articles:

Who Regulates the Communications and Media Industry?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the communication and media industry. The FCC, which was established by the Communications Act of 1934, regulates interstate and international communications by:

  • Radio;
  • Television;
  • Wire;
  • Satellite; and
  • Cable.

The jurisdiction of the FCC covers all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and United States possessions. The FCC has two primary concerns.

One main concern is providing stability to the communications marketplace while facilitating the innovation required for the future. A second main aim of the FCC is to ensure that television and radio programming contact does not violate United States federal law standards.

Even though the FCC has been granted broad powers to regulate the communications industry, the FCC is prohibited from censoring television or radio broadcasts unless those broadcasts depict or utter indecent or obscene language over a broadcast station.

Cyberspace Law

As the Internet evolves, so do the laws which regulate it. These laws are continuously changing to help provide citizens and consumers with various protections concerning online activity and digital assets.

Cyberspace laws generally encompass various legal issues involving distribution, communication, transactions that occur over the internet, and other types of networked devices and technologies. Common issues that cyberspace law governs include:

  • Domain name disputes;
  • Trademark infringement;
  • Cybersquatting issues and;
  • Hacked emails.

A domain name is the address of a specific website on the internet, also referred to as the URL. Often, a business will use its existing business name or a similar name as its domain name. Disputes may arise regarding which entity or business owns or has the right to use a certain domain name.

A small change to a domain name from a similarly named website may be considered trademark infringement, especially if it causes consumer confusion. If a business already has a trademark for its name and that domain name is taken by another individual or entity, it may have an actionable trademark infringement claim.

Cybersquatting occurs when an entity or business takes another established business name or mark, registers it as a domain name, and waits for the business to try to use the business name or mark as its own domain name. The established and innocent business will then be forced to purchase from the cybersquatter at a high price.

An email communication may move across many lines to reach its final destination. Generally, email is not protected from a hacker who wishes to know the contents of the email. This may cause various issues regarding privacy as well as other concerns.

Like the Internet, cyber law is a relatively new field of law that constantly evolves because of the technology it governs. Cyberlaw, also referred to as Internet law, covers issues regarding the Internet:

  • Usage;
  • Access; and
  • Privacy.

In addition, cyber laws govern First Amendment issues such as freedom of expression. For more information on cyber laws, see the following LegalMatch articles:

Entertainment Law

Entertainment law is a diverse body of laws that integrates intellectual property law and contract law. Every television show, movie script, and book must deal with these legal issues.

Entertainment law is an umbrella term which includes all areas of law that are associated with:

  • Television;
  • Film;
  • Music;
  • Publishing;
  • Advertising;
  • News media; and
  • The Internet.

Entertainment laws also govern a vast number of issues, which may range from labor disputes to defamation issues. For more information regarding entertainment laws, see the following LegalMatch articles:

Gaming Law

Gaming law provides the legal rules and regulations which govern casinos and gambling. Because many casinos today are operated by Indian tribes, numerous gaming law issues also involve Indian and Native American law matters.

Gaming laws are regulated by:

  • Criminal law;
  • Constitutional law;
  • Contract law and;
  • Administrative law.

Gaming law is unique and complex because numerous federal and state laws must be followed. For more information on gaming laws, see the following LegalMatch articles:

Sports Law

Sports law governs the legal issues pertaining to the worlds of professional and amateur sports. Sports laws can, and often do, overlap with:

  • Labor law;
  • Contract law;
  • Antitrust law; and
  • Tort law.

Recent sports law disputes have connected college sports and labor disputes. For more information on sports law, see the following LegalMatch articles.

How Can Sports Lawsuits Be Successful?

Although many courts do not look favorably upon a personal injury lawsuit by an athlete, there are exceptions to the assumption of the risk defense, which is often presented in these types of lawsuits. There are some circumstances which may justify a personal injury claim by an athlete, including:

  • The athlete was not aware that the activity contained an inherent risk;
  • The athlete’s coach was negligent in providing instruction on technique and;
  • There was negligence on the part of the sports facility in providing a reasonably safe environment.

Television and Radio Broadcasting

Broadcasting laws fall under the Federal Communication Commission’s jurisdiction in the United States. The regulations provided by the FCC typically cover guidelines for television networks and radio stations.

The FCC may also govern content issues, including profanity. For more information on broadcasting laws, see the following LegalMatch articles:

Should I Get an Entertainment Lawyer to Help Me?

As discussed above, numerous areas of law govern media and entertainment, many of which overlap with other areas of law. Some of these areas of law are also relatively new and constantly evolving and changing.

Because of these issues, consulting with an entertainment lawyer for any issues, questions, or concerns regarding a media or entertainment matter may be helpful. Your lawyer will be able to advise you of your rights in the media and entertainment industry and work to protect your interests.


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