The Roles of Legal Practitioners in Entertainment Industry


The writers adopt the following submission by the Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law, Mr. Olumide Akpata:

“Unknown to many Nigerian lawyers, with Nigerian music and Nollywood thriving, Entertainment Law has today become a cash cow for lawyers who know their salt in this area. Specialists in Entertainment law can make equal fortune with their counterparts who are in the Oil and Gas sector. Failure of Nigerian lawyers to develop competencies in entertainment law would give room for the incursion of foreigners who will hijack this emerging opportunity. We are talking about the biggest economy in Africa, Nollywood contributes a huge percentage to our GDP. But the same thing that happened in Oil and Gas is happening in the Entertainment sector, where the colonialists, who were running the country, ensured that the expertise was only in the hands of their own people. Oloibiri oil discovery was in 1956; I will tell you now that even in the Oil and Gas sector, and the so-called Oil and Gas lawyers in Nigeria are still struggling to take ownership of that sector. However, we have another opportunity, another Oil and Gas has emerged in the Entertainment sector. People don’t realise it but it’s a gold mine. And we have another opportunity to ensure that from this nascent stage, we can begin to develop the competencies and the skills to ensure that our own lawyers can handle the transactions that emerge.
I tell you, the 2faces of this world, the P-Square, they are already approaching foreign law firms to handle their business because they can’t find lawyers in Nigeria who have developed those competencies. You can’t blame them, they need the expert assistance. In fact, in a number of conferences that we have held, the practitioners in that sector, RMD, Ali Baba, they ask us: what are you lawyers doing?

In Sports law; our players are moving between clubs locally, scouts are coming in-country to poach the boys in our local league, there are legal relationships or legal contracts that are necessary to seal those arrangements. I can assure you that foreign lawyers are already working for these boys”.

Entertainment Law involves the application of contract, employment, and intellectual property law principles to the relationship that occur among artists in entertainment industry. Entertainment law covers an area of law which involves media of all types such as TV, Film, Music, publishing, advertising, internet & News media, and stretches over various legal fields.

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Entertainment business is a very serious business which has its rules, policies, orders and rituals. Therefore, being an Entertainment Lawyer may seem like a glamorous career which creates wealth for expert lawyers in that Field. Entertainment Law is a demanding career that requires a lawyer grounded in legal areas of the law such as Contract Law, Labour/employment Law, Securities, taxation, immigration, Litigation and intellectual property. An entertainment Lawyer must know specific statutes regulating the entertainment industry, and must understand how business is done within the Entertainment industry by artists.

Entertainment is a document intensive business that underscores the necessity for Entertainment lawyers who comprehend the business practices of the industry. An Entertainment Lawyer should always participate in many Sponsor seminars pertaining to the entertainment industry which will help him to build competence, and provides great networking opportunities. Apart from competence, an Entertainment lawyer should know that Entertainment industry strives on relationship. Thus, an Entertainment lawyer should take his time to meet people who work in the industry and learn about their business.

A lawyer who starts from scratch to specialize on Entertainment law may get artists who can’t pay the bills but will still give him an opportunity to obtain valuable experience. However, lawyers who are new at representing artists should avoid been used and serviced for non-legal activities such as serving as an agent, manager etc. as such may prove hazardous and unprofessional for these lawyers. Therefore, when dealing with entertainment Clients or artists, the Lawyer must make it clear his roles in Entertainment law practice. This can best be accomplished through the engagement letter or Retainership agreement that states the scope of the Lawyer’s activities for the artist.

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The scope of Lawyers’ services in entertainment sector are numerous. A lawyer’s service may be required at the creation of original works of entertainment where formal contract needs to be drawn to licencing and distribution of such works.

Therefore, whether you are a Courtroom Litigator, Arbitrator, Mediator, Conciliator or Transactional Lawyer, your legal services may be required by entertainment artists.

Therefore, Lawyers in Entertainment Law practice can offer the following services;

  1. Protect Creative Rights of the artiste at the infancy stage
  2. Draft contract to accurately reflect the expectations of the parties and comply with the nuances of the law.
  3. Review contracts from managers, Publicists, record labels, film studios etc to make sure they are legal.
  4. Negotiate on behalf of the artiste
  5. Offer legal  advise to the artiste to avoid legal problems.
  6. A lawyer can help a new Entertainer to understand how business deals are done, how to identify pitfalls in business deals.
  7. Acts as general Counsel for established artists.
  8. Acts as Counsel during payment of Tax or buying of properties by the Artiste.
  9. Help the Artiste to secure the rights to use music that other artists have written in compliance with Copyright Act.
  10. Help to resolve contract disputes through Mediation, Conciliation or Arbitration.
  11. Litigating an Entertainment Law case in Court.
  12. Help to advice and facilitate prosecution on Copyright infringement.

The growing practice area of Entertainment Law shows that an Entertainment lawyer can charge based on Percentage fee arrangement or Structuring fee arrangements in accordance with our ethical and practical perspective. A career as an Entertainment Lawyer will enable you to carve a niche, make Name, make Money, and make fame.

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Messrs;  Miracle Akusobi & Nnamdi Mbanefo

07062809114, 08034800288


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