There is more Music and Entertainment being created right now than probably anytime in history. Want to know how to legally protect yourself and have success in this industry? Phillip Lewis, Esq., an entertainment lawyer, discusses important legal issues for those involved in the music industry.
What are some of the contracts that artists come across in the music business?
Phillip Lewis: So artists can come across a wide variety of contracts. most often artists may come in contact with exclusive recording agreement that can be with a independent label or a major label.
Because the artist is the center of the music industry, artists may also come across: producer agreements, songwriter agreements, talent agreements.If they do appearances, they may encounter: appearance contracts, releases. etc.
What is the difference between a copyright, a trademark, and a patent?
Phillip Lewis: A copyright, a trademark, and a patent are three different forms of intellectual property.
A copyright is an original work of authorship, but it has to be in fixed, tangible form. That means when you create something, it actually has to be tangible when you create it. So a songwriter, they have a song. They have to write that song down for that copyright to be in place.
A trademark, on the other hand, is a source identifier. What that means is it identifies the source of a product or service. When you look at the McDonald's logo or you look at the Polo Ralph Lauren brand, those are those specific corporation's trademarks. People can identify the source from looking at the Golden Arches, or the Polo Ralph Lauren logo.
A patent, on the other hand, protects an invention or the process of creating an invention.
You often hear about entertainment lawyers and managers. What's the difference between those two?
Phillip Lewis: I'll start with the latter first. A manager is responsible for the day to day of the artists. He is the nexus of the team. So responsible for handling the other advisors have the team such as the the business manager, the booking agent, or the lawyer.
The manager is typically responsible for handling all of the artists relationships with other key individuals in an artist's career. Managers also responsible for advising artist's career decisions and artists strategy.
On the other hand, an entertainment lawyer specializes in entertainment law and the contracts that are presented to an artist and the drafting and negotiation of the contracts and analyzing the rights issues around any business and legal decisions that the artists has to make.
Should a music artist focus on hiring an attorney with a background in music law or should he focus focus on one that has a wide variety of knowledge of legal experience?
Phillip Lewis: My recommendation is music artists should always hire someone with music experience. Entertainment contracts specifically in the music industry are very complex contracts. It is best for an artist to have someone on their team who knows the in and outs of those contracts and not just someone who has general legal experience with someone who has that specialization.