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 What is Media and Entertainment Law?

Media and entertainment laws govern the legal areas which are commonly found in the entertainment industry. This typically includes intellectual property issues but may also involve questions regarding:

  • Employment law;
  • Contract law;
  • Immigration law;
  • Advertising law; and
  • International law.

This article will examine the common areas of media and entertain law, which includes:

  • Communications and media;
  • Cyberspace law;
  • Entertainment law;
  • Gaming law;
  • Sports law; and
  • Television and radio broadcasting.

What is Communications and Media?

Media laws govern the regulation of communications. Communications and media laws involve:

  • Constitutional law;
  • Broadcasting law;
  • Defamation issues;
  • Privacy concerns; and
  • Other related issues.

This area of law is regulated by the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC). For more information regarding communications and media, please see the following LegalMatch articles:

Who Regulates the Communications and Media Industry?

The communication and media industry is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC, which was established by the Communications Act of 1934, regulates interstate and international communications by:

  • Radio;
  • Television;
  • Wire;
  • Satellite; and
  • Cable.

The jurisdiction of the FCC covers all 50 states, the District of Columbia and United States possessions. There are two primary concerns of the FCC.

One main concern is to provide stability to the communications marketplace while also facilitating the innovation required for the future. A second main aim of the FCC is to ensure that television and radio programming contact does not violate United States federal law standards.

Even though the FCC has been granted broad powers to regulate the communications industry, the FCC is prohibited from censoring television or radio broadcasts unless those broadcasts depict or utter indecent or obscene language over a broadcast station.

What is Cyberspace Law?

As the Internet evolves, so do the laws which regulate it. These laws are continuously changing in order to help provide citizens and consumers with various protections in connection with activity online and digital assets.

Cyberspace laws generally encompass various legal issues which involve distribution, communication, and transactions which occur over the internet as well as other types of networked devices and technologies. Common issues which cyberspace law governs include:

  • Domain name disputes;
  • Trademark infringement;
  • Cybersquatting issues; and
  • Hacked emails.

A domain name is the address of a specific website on the internet also referred to as the URL. Often, a business will use its existing business name or a similar name as its domain name. Disputes may arise regarding which entity or business owns or has the rights to use a certain domain name.

A small change made to a domain name from a similarly named website may be considered trademark infringement, especially if it causes consumer confusion. If a business already has a trademark for its business name and that domain name is taken by another individual or entity, the business may have an actionable trademark infringement claim.

Cybersquatting occurs when an entity or business takes another established business name or mark, registers it as a domain name, and waits for the business to try to use the business name or mark as their own domain name. The established and innocent business will then be forced to purchase from the cybersquatter at a high price.

An email communication may move across many lines to get to its final destination. Generally, email is not absolutely protected from a hacker who wishes to know the contents of the email. This may cause various issues regarding privacy as well as other concerns.

Similar to the Internet, cyber law is a relatively new field of law which is constantly evolving because of the technology it governs. Cyber law, also referred to as Internet law, covers issues regarding Internet:

  • Usage;
  • Access; and
  • Privacy.

In addition, cyber laws govern First Amendment issues such as freedom of expression. For more information on cyber laws, see the following LegalMatch articles:

What is Entertainment Law?

Entertainment law is a diverse body of laws which integrates intellectual property law and contract law. Every television show, movie script, and book must deal with these legal issues.

Entertainment law is an umbrella term which includes all areas of law that are associated with:

  • Television;
  • Film;
  • Music;
  • Publishing;
  • Advertising;
  • News media; and
  • The Internet.

Entertainment laws also govern a vast number of issues which may range from labor disputes to defamation issues. For more information regarding entertainment laws, see the following LegalMatch articles:

What is Gaming Law?

Gaming law provides the legal rules and regulations which govern casinos and gambling. Because many casinos today are operated by Indian tribes, numerous gaming law issues also involve Indian and Native American law matters.

Gaming laws are regulated by:

  • Criminal law;
  • Constitutional law;
  • Contract law; and
  • Administrative law.

Gaming law is a unique and complex area of law because there are numerous federal laws and state laws which must be followed. For more information on gaming laws, see the following LegalMatch articles:

What is Sports Law?

Sports law governs the legal issues which pertain to the worlds of professional sports and amateur sports. Sports laws can, and often do, overlap with:

  • Labor law;
  • Contract law;
  • Antitrust law; and
  • Tort law.

Recent sports law disputes have arisen in connection with college sports and labor disputes. For more information on sports law, see the following LegalMatch articles.

How Can Sports Lawsuits be Successful?

Although many courts do not look favorably upon a personal injury lawsuit by an athlete, there are exceptions to the assumption of the risk defense which is often presented in these types of lawsuits. There are some circumstances which may justify a personal injury claim by an athlete, including:

  • The athlete was not aware that the activity contained an inherent risk;
  • The athlete’s coach was negligent in providing instruction on technique; and
  • There was negligence on the part of the sports facility in providing a reasonably safe environment.

What is Television and Radio Broadcasting?

Broadcasting laws fall under the Federal Communication Commission’s jurisdiction in the United States. The regulations provided by the FCC typically cover guidelines for television networks and radio stations.

The FCC may also govern content issues, including profanity. For more information on broadcasting laws, see the following LegalMatch articles:

Should I Get an Entertainment Lawyer to Help Me?

As shown above, there are numerous areas of law that govern media and entertainment, many of which overlap with other areas of law. Some of these areas of law are also relatively new and constantly evolving and changing.

Because of these issues, it may be helpful to consult with an entertainment lawyer for any issues, questions, or concerns you may have regarding a media or entertainment matter. Your lawyer will be able to advise you of your rights in the media and entertainment industry and work to protect your interests.

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