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Publishing and broadcasting gives businesses the possibility of tremendous reach and profit, but can also expose companies to liability. For example, when defamatory information is spread or when unlicensed content is used, media companies might need to compensate the aggrieved parties.
Media lawyers work with media companies to optimise their broadcasting and publication capabilities while limiting their legal risks.
Where can I find a media lawyer online?
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What's in this guide?
What is a media lawyer?
A media lawyer is a legal professional who works with traditional as well as modern day content creators and distributors. Some of these include radio and television broadcasters, publishers (book, magazine, and newspapers), film and theatre companies and advertising and marketing firms. Others are social media companies and esports game creators.
Media lawyers work with these companies throughout the content creation and distribution processes, ensuring compliance with laws and minimising associated legal risks. They advise content creators and distributors on governing aspects of media law, providing counsel on matters such as intellectual property, censorship, privacy rights and monetisation.
When should I use a media lawyer?
If you work in the media industry, you might use a media lawyer to help you navigate the complexities of media law. As a content creator, musician, filmmaker, author, blogger or performer, a media lawyer will help you prepare contracts, license your work, protect copyrights, strike and defend royalty agreements and negotiate sponsorship deals.
As a content distributor managing music, film and print distribution networks, a media lawyer will help you minimise liability risks from libel, infringement of intellectual property and use of unauthorised work.
Content broadcasters like television and radio stations as well as marketers and advisers can use media lawyers to purchase and sell rights to images, films and shows. They can also benefit from advice on complying with advertising laws.
Media companies like talent management firms might consider using media lawyers when they are onboarding new talent. The lawyers will provide assistance with negotiating contracts and securing rights over images and other forms of content.
Media lawyer vs IT lawyer
A media lawyer is a legal professional whose work is to support artists, media distributors and broadcasters. He or she does this by offering timely and appropriate legal advice on matters such as selling and purchasing rights to content as well as trademarks and copyrights.
An information technology (IT) lawyer, on the other hand, works with technology companies to limit their IT-related legal risks. The lawyer's clients include ecommerce platforms, cloud computing companies and fintech service providers. These companies are subject to an evolving set of IT laws that safeguard consumer privacy. IT lawyers give legal support to these companies, aiding their compliance with IT laws. They also help them negotiate software and mobile application licensing agreements.
What does a media lawyer do?
A media lawyer's client list includes:
- Content creators like musicians, actors, film makers, video game makers and magazine publishers
- Broadcasters like radio and television stations
- Distributors like theatres and newspaper distributors
- Talent management companies
Media lawyers offer these clients services such as:
- Preparing, negotiating and reviewing talent management and content distribution contracts
- Defending agreements such as exclusive usage
- Purchasing and selling rights to content
- Working around local and international media laws
- Minimising compliance and defamation-related risks
- Enforcing intellectual property protections
- Securing licenses and royalties
- Giving strategic advice on project financing, content commercialisation and distribution
- Offering legal representation where disputes are taken to court.
What does a media lawyer not do?
A media lawyer does not offer consultancy on matters outside of media law such as divorce, bankruptcy, workers' compensation and immigration.
How effective is a media lawyer?
Media lawyers have been educated in multiple areas of media law and are experienced in offering both counsel and representation to clients. They have worked with high-profile artists and brands to protect their assets as well as negotiate distribution agreements.
In addition, media lawyers can:
- Give guidance on trademark and copyright matters
- Offer legal representation in defamation and libel cases
- Advise on cross-border media law matters
Such legal counsel develops and empowers artists and brands.
Do I need a media lawyer?
If you are a content creator, distributor or broadcaster, you may need a media lawyer. As a participant in the media sector, you are already aware of the complexities of media contracts and intellectual property laws. You also know how costly developing content is and how difficult securing fair and beneficial licensing and distribution is.
With so much on the line, it may be useful to have a media lawyer on your side. He or she will help you negotiate contracts, secure IP rights over your content and enforce these rights so that you earn fair compensation for your hard work.
Furthermore, the media landscape is also changing. New technologies are coming up and media laws are developing to keep up with them. As an artist or distributor, you should not get bogged down trying to understand media law. Hire a media lawyer so that he or she advises you on compliance matters while you focus on what you do best, creating or distributing content.
Where to get a free quote for a media lawyer
You can get a media lawyer quote from one of these sources:
- Lawpath. This is an online lawyer marketplace with over 1,000 licensed lawyers. Sign up, describe the service you are looking for and receive up to three quotes from lawyers.
- LegalVision. An online private law firm running on a subscription model, LegalVision will connect you with competent media lawyers once you subscribe.
- State Law Societies. Australia's state law societies have lawyer search tools that you can use to find a media lawyer near you.
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