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Entertainment Law
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Providing comprehensive legal services and industry know-how to the entertainment industry on a national scale.

The entertainment industry is changing as rapidly as the technology and the distribution platforms upon which it relies. Independent filmmakers are creating more movies at a larger scale, while established studios are producing fewer films, with a focus on blockbusters and franchise pictures. The panoply of state and foreign tax incentives and new financing structures is becoming increasingly complex. All the while, new distribution models are increasing the availability of content — including music, books and television — while turning traditional marketing, distribution and profit models upside down. 

Ranked among the top law firms in the region by Chambers USA, The Legal 500 and other national ratings publications, the entertainment law team at Jones Walker counsels companies and individuals in the entertainment, arts and hospitality industries. With lawyers practicing in New Orleans, New York and Los Angeles, we provide current, seamless and geographically relevant counsel to clients where they create, where they do business, and where their customers live.

Our lawyers know the entertainment industry from the inside out and are immersed in the day-to-day deal reality of finance, production and distribution. Members of our practice have served as in-house counsel and have developed extensive professional relationships at major movie studios, independent production companies, and sports and entertainment enterprises; have founded their own successful production and distribution companies; have closed and advised on hundreds of production and distribution deals, including well-known and critically acclaimed blockbusters and festival favorites; and have counseled clients on almost every aspect of the entertainment business.

We represent film studios, independent film production entities, film financiers, distributors, talent and management agencies, professional sports franchises, restaurant and hotel franchises, music recording companies, radio communications entities, digital entertainment companies and established actors, musicians, directors, writers, athletes and artists. We provide practical legal, business and creative advice that helps clients compete and thrive in today's dynamic entertainment marketplace.

Jones Walker is committed to fostering and supporting the continued growth of entertainment projects in the state of Louisiana, across the Southeast, and in major media centers on both coasts. We provide legal services in the following areas:

Film Finance and Development Strategies

Jones Walker attorneys have extensive experience in all stages of motion picture and television program development, financing, packaging and distribution. We regularly advise lenders, investors, and gap, tax-credit and incentive-based financiers, as well as studios and independent filmmakers, on projects throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada with budgets ranging from $100,000 to over $80,000,000.

We help clients identify potential institutional and non-institutional financing sources and structure, negotiate and close transactions in the following areas, among others:

  • Monetization of motion picture investment and production tax credits, deductions (e.g., Section  181), rebates, grants and other federal, national, provincial, state and local incentives
  • International and domestic presale financing
  • Institutional media lender financing
  • Gap and debt financing
  • Equity investments
  • Motion picture slate financing, including fund formation
  • Motion picture library and catalog acquisitions
  • Production and distribution company startup strategies and formation

With respect to loans and investments involving tax credit and other incentive programs, we analyze budgets vis-à-vis the expected value of incentives and transferrable credits, help ensure the project and production company are duly qualified and certified to earn the available incentives, manage applications for incentives, communicate with government authorities, producers and third-party auditors, and provide related transactional support. We also assist clients in identifying and selecting shooting and other locations that can help them qualify for applicable incentive programs, and provide strategic advice to filmmakers on packaging and distributing their films, selling projects to distributors or studios, and marketing their work domestically and internationally.

Production Legal

Our practice covers the full spectrum of production legal, from development and rights deals to above-the-line talent negotiation. We represent clients in negotiations and interactions with guilds, crew leaders and department heads, and regularly advise on matters associated with vendors, shooting, production and post-production locations, and creative contributors such as composers including protecting and obtaining copyrights and clearances to music used in films.

Distribution Legal

The first requirement in negotiating a distribution deal is knowing who to call. The entertainment law team at Jones Walker includes lawyers with significant experience and an extensive network of professional relationships in the distribution and acquisition of film and episodic content. We provide comprehensive services in the negotiation of complex distribution agreements and have advised in the acquisition of hundreds of motion pictures both domestically and in the foreign marketplace. We have also played a key role in helping numerous companies raise the capital necessary to launch and expand their distribution companies.

Talent

We provide effective legal services and strategic advice to individual entertainment and media clients in the motion picture, television, theatre, news, radio, fashion and music industries, including actors, writers, directors, producers, radio and television personalities, playwrights, composers, musicians, comedians, models and designers.

Media and Cable 

Our attorneys provide a broad range of legal services to local and regional media and cable outlets, as well as regional affiliates and internet-based digital media entertainment entities. Our experience includes cable, radio and digital media entity formation, acquisitions and financings.  We draft and negotiate a variety of commercial agreements, including employment and non-compete agreements, affiliate agreements, advertising agreements, and strategic partnerships and alliances.

Sports Entertainment 

We have wide-ranging experience representing professional sports franchises in a variety of corporate and operational issues, including debt and equity financings, labor and employment, real estate, tax and intellectual property matters. Additionally, we provide advice to current and former professional athletes in relation to a variety of legal concerns, including general corporate and business advice, trust and estate planning, and commercial litigation. 

Music and Theatrical Production

We represent musicians, record companies, writers and authors in the drafting and negotiation of recording, licensing, sales and other agreements. Intellectual property and creative assets are the lifeblood of these industries; with this in mind, our experienced intellectual property team provides comprehensive prosecution and protection services relating to copyrights, trademarks, patents and brands. 

We also represent recording labels, promoters, theatrical production companies, and developers of recording studios and live performance venues, as well as institutional lenders and other financiers, with respect to the financing of, and investments in, the production of live performances (concert tours, theatrical productions, etc.), and the development of musical and live performance properties and infrastructure. We help clients identify and access state incentive programs and non-incentive based financing that capitalize upon the region's cultural economy, stimulate the development of music recording and live performance infrastructure, and promote and develop touring concerts, plays and other theatrical productions.

Digital Interactive Media and Software

We represent developers of applications, software, platforms and other interactive digital media with respect to all aspects of their business, including, without limitation, protection of intellectual property, financing, employment and immigration matters, coding and development agreements, inbound and outbound license agreements, and sales and distribution on a global scale.

Louisiana, New York, Georgia, and other states in which we practice offer tax credits, rebates, grants and other incentives to encourage the development of digital interactive media within their borders. As part of our Digital Interactive Media and Software finance practice, we assist our clients in monetizing these incentives as a means to finance the development of digital interactive media products and platforms.

Hospitality

Our hospitality team brings together lawyers from many of the firm's practices, including corporate and securities, real estate, banking, tax, construction and intellectual property, to offer a full range of coordinated legal services to the hospitality industry. We have years of experience counseling hotels, restaurants and bars in areas such as local and state zoning and real estate matters, franchising, debt and equity financing, commercial litigation and licensing.

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