A media lawyer generally focuses on providing a broad range of legal services to sectors within the entertainment industry. Typically, a media lawyer is knowledgeable about the specialized body of law which regulates print, audiovisual, electronic, and other forms of media. A media lawyer usually wears several hats and has expertise in everything from drafting and negotiating contracts to litigating or mediating entertainment disputes. A media lawyer may also be referred to as an entertainment lawyer.
Media lawyers often dedicate themselves to one or more types of media law. Some lawyers handle cases dealing with media law defamation, contempt, media law privacy, or censorship issues. Other media attorneys tackle cases that address freedom of information, confidentiality, and copyright issues. Generally, a media lawyer focuses on transaction-based work, although some issues may be brought to mediation, arbitration, or court.
Media laws are becoming increasingly common in many countries, furthering the need for lawyers who exclusively specialize in entertainment law. As a result, media law school courses are starting to emerge worldwide. Typically, these programs focus on preparing future lawyers to practice entertainment and media law and policy. Media law schools can also provide prospective attorneys with a thorough understanding of the law, customs, theories, and policies that relate to individual entertainment industries, such as the television and radio, music, and film industries. Other areas for specialization include multimedia, publishing, theater, and visual arts.
A media lawyer who focuses on television and radio will often handle broadcast licensing and regulatory issues as well as intellectual property questions or disputes. Attorneys who work in the music industry may negotiate talent and producer agreements. In addition, they often address copyright issues, synchronization rights, and intellectual property matters. A film media lawyer may negotiate a variety of contracts, including talent, distribution, option, and motion picture contracts. They may also deal with chain of title issues, trade union disputes, production and distribution questions, and intellectual property and copyright problems.
Media attorneys specializing in theater law may review rental and co-production agreements and are usually knowledgeable about intellectual property law. Multimedia lawyers handle anything from software licensing and intellectual property issues to video game development and production matters. A publishing and print media lawyer usually reviews publishing or print media contracts, such as author, model, and advertising contracts. They often have expertise in copyright law. In addition to handling intellectual property issues, lawyers who deal with visual arts law may negotiate contracts for art delivery from artists to dealers.