Entertainment & Sports Law
Entertainment and sports law encompasses multiple areas of law which work together to serve the entertainment and sports industries. No one area or topic of law dominates the field of entertainment and sports law. Accordingly, the definition of entertainment and sports law continues to develop as the industries grow and evolve.
The entertainment industry comprises the music, film, television, radio, theatre, multimedia, publishing, visual arts and design fields. Each field has its own distinct trade unions, practices, statutes and case law.
Common Issues in Entertainment Law
While the various areas of the entertainment industry have unique customs and rules, many issues are universal to entertainment law. For example, all sub-industries must regulate the relationship between talent and studios, talent agencies, production companies, etc. Entertainment law is therefore used to negotiate employment contracts, resolve trade union disputes, and settle the payment and collection of royalties. Additionally, because the entertainment industry promotes a creative product, conflicts often arise in connection with trademarks, copyrights, and rights of publicity. These issues are frequently related to First Amendment concerns and disputes over defamation, privacy rights and freedom of speech. Finally, because entertainment is an international industry, entertainment lawyers regularly encounter questions of immigration and international law.
Entertainment law is often associated with media law. Media law is typically divided into telecommunications and print media, such as newspapers and magazines. Media law also encompasses the internet and computer technology. The federal government primarily regulates media. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. First Amendment issues, along with questions of copyright, licensing and advertising dominate the field of media law.
The sports industry can be divided into amateur, professional and international sports. Professional athletes are compensated for their contributions while amateur athletes typically play for their own recreation and enjoyment. While sports law generally encompasses tort, antitrust and contract law, each level of the sports industry has its own distinct issues and concerns.
Amateur sports include recreational games, high-school athletics and collegiate-level sports. At the recreational and high-school level, amateur sports law generally revolves around tort disputes between individuals, or individuals and schools or organizations. Collegiate sports law often concerns the rules and policies of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Other issues in amateur sports law include questions of mandatory drug testing, and race and sex discrimination within athletic programs.
Professional sports law often concerns contract disputes between athletes, professional sports teams and sports agents. Most major sports leagues utilize a modified version of the Standard Player's Contract, which serves as a model employment contract between athletes and team owners. The relationship between athletes and agents is generally governed by a Standard Representation Contract, though state legislatures are increasingly stepping in to regulate the activities of sports agents.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) arbitrates disputes related to international sports. The CAS was designed in 1984 as part of the International Olympic Committee to handle disputes arising during the Olympics. Today, the CAS also regulates disputes within professional soccer and professional cycling. While parties must agree to arbitration in the CAS, the majority of Olympic International Federations and Committees refer their disputes to the CAS. Recent issues addressed by the CAS include doping in professional soccer and cycling.