Entertainment and New Media

Duane Morris attorneys have extensive experience representing clients doing business in entertainment and new media. Whether pursuing new opportunities or investments, enforcing contracts or agreements or protecting clients' rights, the firm's lawyers understand the unique issues presented by operating in these industries, including the importance of establishing and maintaining relationships, controlling sensitive information, maintaining privacy and confidentiality and achieving goals in tight timeframes. Providing personal service similar to a boutique firm which may have offices in one or a few cities, Duane Morris provides clients access to lawyers around the world working in all the legal disciplines that clients may require. Whether in New York, Los Angeles, London, or any of the more than 20 markets where Duane Morris has offices, the firm's attorneys are able to provide experienced counsel and effective representation for clients in these fast-moving, high-stakes industries.

Entertainment

Duane Morris attorneys have represented clients in all facets of the entertainment industry, including:

  • Actors, comedians, media personalities
  • Musicians, performing artists, entertainers
  • Authors and artists
  • Film/TV producers, production companies
  • Broadcasting companies
  • Music producers, record companies
  • Video game companies
  • Electronic content providers
  • Theaters and venues

New Media and Technology

In the creative industries, our lawyers work together with innovative companies and individuals at the intersection of technology and the law in new media, social networking, interactive entertainment, video games, software, and electronic content sharing and publishing. The firm regularly represents clients in the sale, acquisition and protection of domain names and other electronic assets. Several of our lawyers are well known for their work in data security and privacy issues. A Duane Morris lawyer defended the first criminal prosecution of a software company under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Another of our lawyers drafted the first open source agreement.    

Deals

Negotiating deals can be career defining moments. Our lawyers initiate, structure and finalize deals with some of the best known companies and organizations in entertainment. Our attorneys regularly handle negotiations for clients, including:

  • Merchandising and licensing
  • Broadcasting, syndication, content distribution
  • Copyright/trademark permissions
  • Sponsorships
  • Joint ventures and investments
  • Venue naming rights
  • Real estate

Intellectual Property

In entertainment, names, logos, likenesses and published works are among the most valuable aspects of the industries. Enabling their use in the most advantageous ways while simultaneously protecting against non-permitted uses is a constant balancing act. For many years, Duane Morris attorneys have negotiated trademark and copyright licenses, purchases and consent agreements for entertainment clients. More recently, Duane Morris has become increasingly involved in global anti-counterfeiting enforcement, coordinating efforts of to stop the sale of knockoff goods around the world.

Wealth Management and Tax Planning

Entertainers' flow of income and return on investments can be more volatile than almost any other, making it of the utmost importance to have solid current plans and future financial strategies. Duane Morris attorneys have experience counseling high-profile, high net-worth individuals in all stages of their career, advising them and their heirs on estates, trusts, asset planning and protection and the creation and management of charitable foundations. The firm's Tax Accounting Group is a unique, in-house CPA practice that provides tax planning and consulting services, working in conjunction with the firm's attorneys to strive for tax minimization while ensuring necessary compliance in an evolving tax landscape (such as the growing importance of multi-state tax reporting, as states are becoming increasingly aggressive in seeking tax revenue from athletes and entertainers performing in their states).

Misconduct/Criminal Charges and Civil Claims

Public figures facing claims of wrongdoing can find themselves simultaneously trying to protect their livelihoods and their reputations. When an entertainer is charged with a crime, Duane Morris lawyers understand the situation not only needs to handed effectively, but it needs to be done quickly and discretely to best put the client back in a position to perform.

Liability and Risk

Duane Morris attorneys are among the pioneers in the law regarding liability and risk in sports, recreation and outdoor industries. For decades, the firm's lawyers have represented equipment manufacturers, retailers, venues and trade groups, and in that time helped revitalize and define the doctrine of primary assumption of risk. The firm serves as national counsel for many well-known brands of snow, water and outdoor gear. Whether representing a equipment company, resort, or other client, our lawyers are adept at helping weigh the potential risks and benefits of litigation or settlement, while managing the possible financial and public relations consequences. The firm also advises clients on risk management and avoidance, as well as insurance issues.

International and Immigration

The entertainment world knows no borders. From business deals to asset management, and intellectual property rights to technology issues, the firm's attorneys advise clients on opportunities, obligations, and rights in nations throughout the world. Also, Duane Morris' globally-recognized immigration practice assists entertainers and their families with visa and naturalization issues.

Duane Morris attorneys have extensive experience representing clients doing business in entertainment and new media. Whether pursuing new opportunities or investments, enforcing contracts or agreements or protecting clients' rights, the firm's lawyers understand the unique issues presented by operating in these industries, including the importance of establishing and maintaining relationships, controlling sensitive information, maintaining privacy and confidentiality and achieving goals in tight timeframes. Providing personal service similar to a boutique firm which may have offices in one or a few cities, Duane Morris provides clients access to lawyers around the world working in all the legal disciplines that clients may require. Whether in New York, Los Angeles, London, or any of the more than 20 markets where Duane Morris has offices, the firm's attorneys are able to provide experienced counsel and effective representation for clients in these fast-moving, high-stakes industries.

Entertainment

Duane Morris attorneys have represented clients in all facets of the entertainment industry, including:

Actors, comedians, media personalities
Musicians, performing artists, entertainers
Authors and artists
Film/TV producers, production companies
Broadcasting companies
Music producers, record companies
Video game companies
Electronic content providers
Theaters and venues

New Media and Technology

In the creative industries, our lawyers work together with innovative companies and individuals at the intersection of technology and the law in new media, social networking, interactive entertainment, video games, software, and electronic content sharing and publishing. The firm regularly represents clients in the sale, acquisition and protection of domain names and other electronic assets. Several of our lawyers are well known for their work in data security and privacy issues. A Duane Morris lawyer defended the first criminal prosecution of a software company under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Another of our lawyers drafted the first open source agreement.

Deals

Negotiating deals can be career defining moments. Our lawyers initiate, structure and finalize deals with some of the best known companies and organizations in entertainment. Our attorneys regularly handle negotiations for clients, including:

Merchandising and licensing
Broadcasting, syndication, content distribution
Copyright/trademark permissions
Sponsorships
Joint ventures and investments
Venue naming rights
Real estate

Intellectual Property

In entertainment, names, logos, likenesses and published works are among the most valuable aspects of the industries. Enabling their use in the most advantageous ways while simultaneously protecting against non-permitted uses is a constant balancing act. For many years, Duane Morris attorneys have negotiated trademark and copyright licenses, purchases and consent agreements for entertainment clients. More recently, Duane Morris has become increasingly involved in global anti-counterfeiting enforcement, coordinating efforts of to stop the sale of knockoff goods around the world.

Wealth Management and Tax Planning

Entertainers' flow of income and return on investments can be more volatile than almost any other, making it of the utmost importance to have solid current plans and future financial strategies. Duane Morris attorneys have experience counseling high-profile, high net-worth individuals in all stages of their career, advising them and their heirs on estates, trusts, asset planning and protection and the creation and management of charitable foundations. The firm's Tax Accounting Group is a unique, in-house CPA practice that provides tax planning and consulting services, working in conjunction with the firm's attorneys to strive for tax minimization while ensuring necessary compliance in an evolving tax landscape (such as the growing importance of multi-state tax reporting, as states are becoming increasingly aggressive in seeking tax revenue from athletes and entertainers performing in their states).

Misconduct/Criminal Charges and Civil Claims

Public figures facing claims of wrongdoing can find themselves simultaneously trying to protect their livelihoods and their reputations. When an entertainer is charged with a crime, Duane Morris lawyers understand the situation not only needs to handed effectively, but it needs to be done quickly and discretely to best put the client back in a position to perform.

Liability and Risk

Duane Morris attorneys are among the pioneers in the law regarding liability and risk in sports, recreation and outdoor industries. For decades, the firm's lawyers have represented equipment manufacturers, retailers, venues and trade groups, and in that time helped revitalize and define the doctrine of primary assumption of risk. The firm serves as national counsel for many well-known brands of snow, water and outdoor gear. Whether representing a equipment company, resort, or other client, our lawyers are adept at helping weigh the potential risks and benefits of litigation or settlement, while managing the possible financial and public relations consequences. The firm also advises clients on risk management and avoidance, as well as insurance issues.

International and Immigration

The entertainment world knows no borders. From business deals to asset management, and intellectual property rights to technology issues, the firm's attorneys advise clients on opportunities, obligations, and rights in nations throughout the world. Also, Duane Morris' globally-recognized immigration practice assists entertainers and their families with visa and naturalization issues.

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS

Entertainment Law
 

  • Counsel to the popular singer Jimmy Buffett in a trademark rights case. The court granted a motion for partial summary judgment and canceled Cheeseburger in Paradise's federal trademark registration for the mark, CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE. This was a very significant decision because there are no reported decisions construing trademark rights to song titles.
  • Represented Sherwood 48 Associates in trade-dress infringement, dilution, electronic trespass and unfair competition case against Sony Corp. of America.
  • Counsel to DC Comics, Inc. in a First Amendment case. The court granted the client's motion for summary judgment, holding that DC Comics' use of the Charles Atlas advertisement was a form of expression protected by the First Amendment. The court held that the likelihood of confusion was slim and that it was outweighed by the public interest in parodic expression.
  • Counsel to popular singer and entertainer Janet Jackson in a successful in rem action to recover the domain name JanetJackson.com.
  • Represented three executives of music search-engine SeeqPod in a copyright infringement case brought against them by a group of major record labels, including Capitol Records, Virgin Records America and EMI Music. The court granted the clients' motion to dismiss the complaint against them for lack of personal jurisdiction and refused the record labels' request for discovery as to personal jurisdiction.
  • Represented a major record label in a joint venture with MTV to launch a music video station in Asia.
  • Brought copyright infringement and wrongful foreclosure action on behalf of Feldman/Meeker Co. to obtain return of copyright for the motion picture, The Kindred. Obtained partial summary judgment ruling that SAG's foreclosure on the motion picture copyright was unlawful and ineffective. Damages claim settled shortly before trial set for June 2010. The Kindred Limited Partnership v. Screen Actors Guild.

New Media
 

  • Representing Zynga Inc., Internet game developer of Cityville, Farmville and Mafia Wars, in the consolidated Zynga Privacy class action, which involves claims that Facebook and Zynga disclosed/leaked personally identifiable information to third parties.
  • PeopleData v. Yahoo! — Represented Yahoo! in defense of breach of "pay-per-click" advertising contract and various related tort claims and prosecution of cross-complaint for successor liability and fraudulent conveyance of business assets. Matter was settled on terms the client found favorable.
  • Advised and represented highly visible internet social gaming company on multiple litigation and corporate matters relating to content policies, virtual currency issues, internal risk management and terms of service.
  • Represented Intuitive Venture Partners, LLC in the formation of a fund for a $3.9 million offering, with a target investment in an entertainment studio and new-media platform created to empower artists to co-produce, distribute and monetize original, episodic video content.

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Diversity

"In my discussions with Duane Morris leaders, they frequently speak about how diversity within their firm has enabled them to better serve their diverse clients. They understand that investing in diversity is a wise business decision that positions them for the marketplace of the future."

Don Liu
Senior VP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
Xerox Corporation

At Duane Morris, achieving diversity is paradoxical. By supporting and celebrating the differences of our attorneys - and the individual strengths that they bring - our firm culture expands, fostering creative solutions for our clients. But diversity at Duane Morris does not mean that we have a certain number of diverse attorneys; true diversity means that it is no longer noteworthy to see diverse lawyers leading our practice groups or managing client relationships. Ascending to positions of leadership and greater responsibility and providing the highest levels of client service is simply what is expected of all our lawyers. Diversity is another strong asset that adds to our collective abilities to meet the needs of our clients.

Our vision of diversity at Duane Morris is to realize an environment in which our lawyers' outstanding qualities are not just measured by ethnicity, race, gender and sexual orientation, but more importantly, that our lawyers are remarkable as excellent attorneys above all else. Only then can we celebrate our differences while focusing on the common pursuit of legal excellence which everyone shares at Duane Morris.

To reach this goal, Duane Morris understands that the familiar diversity strategies and policies that most law firms have are needed. Without demanding results from such policies, most law firms are bound to fail in even achieving numerical hiring and retention goals. Duane Morris has been proactive and ambitious in its efforts to improve diversity at the firm, and has set deadlines for reaching the milestones which mark our progress. To create a more diverse law firm, Duane Morris is:

  • Committed to strategically increasing our diversity levels, which is currently at 10 percent.
  • Bringing together our Diversity Committee and our Hiring and Retention Committee to raise diversity as an important factor in our hiring decisions.
  • Dedicated to improving retention by building upon our monitoring and mentoring program for all diverse associates.

Combining new initiatives with our longstanding diversity efforts, Duane Morris has seen increasingly positive results. In the Minority Law Journal's annual diversity survey of the nation's largest 260 firms, Duane Morris continued to improve its regional and national ranking, rising to number 136 of all firms surveyed. Our strides in Philadelphia are encouraging; in a city known for both the racial diversity of its population and the lack thereof in its law firms, Duane Morris is one of only two law firms to exceed the national average of minority partners at all law firms. Additionally, Duane Morris leads all national law firms based in Philadelphia in the number of Latino partners. Nearly 30 percent of all of our attorneys are women, and more than 20 percent of our partners are women.

In our approach to diversity, progress in racial, gender and cultural diversity cannot be measured in numbers alone. Duane Morris has focused our diversity initiatives on both increasing the number of diverse associates and addressing the challenges diverse attorneys face in building lasting careers and rising to senior and leadership positions. While several of our key practice groups are led by diverse partners and female partners, Duane Morris endeavors to create a culture which will foster a deep pool of such attorneys who can then develop into the firm's future leaders. Duane Morris understands that simply hiring diverse associates will not change the diversity of the firm; Duane Morris is working to mentor and retain diverse associates so that our progress in racial, gender and cultural diversity is also reflected at the highest levels of leadership within the firm.

Our progress on gender diversity has been profound. We have no glass ceilings: women hold positions of leadership at all levels of management at the firm. Women lead a number of our key practice groups, including our Energy, Immigration and International practices, and serve on the firm's Executive Committee. The success of our female attorneys at Duane Morris has not gone unnoticed. Barbara Adams was chair of the firm's Finance Practice until her appointment by Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell to serve as General Counsel of the Commonwealth. In 2004, our longtime General Counsel, Gene E.K. Pratter, was approved by the United States Senate and is now a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Our efforts to improve diversity extend beyond our firm's walls. The chair of our Diversity Committee, Nolan N. Atkinson, Jr., recognized the lack of diversity in Philadelphia's legal community and formed the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group. Nolan now serves as the chair of the organization, a consortium of 25 law firms and corporations that commits to employing at least one diverse first-year law student each as a summer associate. From this program, law students of diverse backgrounds gain access to what was once an exclusive legal community, and now have the opportunity to learn and develop their legal careers with experience at Philadelphia's top law firms.

In addition to our involvement in the Philadelphia area, Duane Morris has increased our presence at national conferences and events focused on diversity. We sponsor the Hispanic National Bar Association and its job fair. Duane Morris is also a longtime supporter and sponsor of the Equality Forum, a national gay and lesbian rights organization. Duane Morris continues to sponsor the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, and is active in other associations of diverse attorneys including: the Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley; the Charles Houston Bar Association; Cuban Bar Association; Korean American Lawyers Association; National American Indian Housing Counsel and the National Bar Association.

The challenge of improving gender, ethnic and cultural diversity at Duane Morris is an ongoing effort that has the support of the entire firm. Duane Morris has been at the vanguard in supporting gender diversity throughout the firm beginning a generation ago. Our diversity programs are leading to similar success in improving racial and national origin diversity at Duane Morris. But even as we share these examples of Duane Morris attorneys and our involvement in numerous legal events, associations and programs for diversity, our hope is that such examples will no longer be necessary to mention in the future. We hope that through our efforts, and the efforts of other law firms, these stories become so common that they are no longer the remarkable accomplishments they are today, but simply routine aspects of the legal world tomorrow.