Entertainment

Entertainment Litigation

We are recognized as having the nation’s premier entertainment litigation practice.  Our lawyers, and the results they achieve in high-stakes and high-profile lawsuits, command the respect of judges, arbitrators and potential opponents.    

Greenberg Glusker resolves client disputes involving individuals, partnerships, production companies, distributors, guilds and/or governmental agencies. We have extensive experience with issues under the California Talent Agencies Act and we counsel clients in actions for and against agents and business and personal managers.
 
If litigation is necessary, our attorneys are forceful, experienced advocates who have established important legal precedents in the entertainment industry. Our extensive experience ranges from motion picture and television to music, sports, interactive gaming, theatre and photography.

In the film arena, we handle every conceivable type of dispute relating to the motion picture business.  This includes conflicts over initial rights acquisitions, the engagement of talent, motion picture production, exploitation and distribution.  Our background includes resolving copyright and trademark disputes, editing rights, right to final cut and writer’s credits.  We resolve disputes involving international film distribution before the American Film Market Association, now known as the Independent Film and Television Alliance. To resolve these many disputes, our attorneys arbitrate before all of the guild arbitration forums.

Television litigation, including idea submission disputes in reality shows, is part of Greenberg Glusker’s vast tv experience.  In both scripted and unscripted programming, we handle disputes between actors, production companies and broadcast and cable networks.

The music industry typically uses in-house attorneys and small boutique music firms for its transactional legal work. In litigation challenges to the industry, Greenberg Glusker provides sophisticated counsel. We represent performers, composers and songwriters, music publishers and record labels in copyright, royalty and other litigation arising out of the exploitation of sound recordings and musical compositions. Our background includes “7 year” disputes, management agreement disputes and contractual disputes between record labels and business partners.  

Well-versed in the technology of music, we obtain copyright protection for the sound recordings contained in electronic musical instruments, litigate patent disputes over new technologies and monitor the Internet for unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works.
 

As the video game business has evolved from a niche area to a fully integrated multibillion-dollar industry, our litigators have an unparalleled level of experience in this area.  We work to forge new legal ground in the industry’s untested areas and regularly handle claims brought on behalf of, or against, persons and entities in this bourgeoning industry.

Intellectual property protection is unique in the entertainment industry. Greenberg Glusker prosecutes and defends our entertainment clients’ copyright, trademark, right of publicity, trade dress infringement and idea submission claims, and other intellectual property infringement concerns.  We provide assertive counsel on claims, on behalf of celebrities, that involve intentional interference with contracts and invasion of privacy protections. We also manage conflicts over rights acquisitions, the engagement of talent, exploitation and distribution.  

Talent is a critical component of success in the entertainment industry.  Accordingly, our Entertainment Litigation Group has the talent and credentials to resolve successfully every conceivable type of dispute arising in all entertainment industries.

For more information, please contact Matthew Falley.

  • Successfully represented the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien in a profit participation action against New Line Cinema; the Estate was seeking a damage award of at least $150 million and had also requested that the Court declare New Line’s rights terminated. The matter settled
  • Represented Jeffrey Katzenberg, a founding principal of DreamWorks SKG and the former head of Walt Disney Studios, in his lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company. The litigation arose out of Disney’s failure to pay Mr. Katzenberg the employment bonus owed to him upon his leaving the company. The bonus included a participation in all of the films produced during his tenure.
  • Obtained $13.2 million arbitration award for Ubisoft Entertainment, one of the world’s largest video game publishers, in a dispute against MGA Entertainment, licensor of the Bratz doll property, for wrongful termination of the license.
  • Represented actor Dustin Hoffman in a right of publicity case against Los Angeles Magazine. The court ruled that the magazine violated his right of publicity, violated the Lanham Act and engaged in unfair competition when it created and published a computer-generated picture of Mr. Hoffman’s face on another person’s body, clad in a designer dress and shoes.
  • Represented Francis Ford Coppola in an action against Warner Bros. for interfering with his right to make a new motion picture based on “Pinocchio.” The jury verdict, in the amount of $80 million, was the largest of its kind in the history of the motion picture industry.
  • Obtained for former Beatle George Harrison an $11 million judgment against his former business manager.
  • Represented supermodel Elle Macpherson in her defamation action against an attorney who made false statements to the media about her.
  • Successfully represented The Beatles in the landmark action against the producers of the stage show “Beatlemania” for invasion of publicity rights in performance, name and likeness. The case was tried in a six-week trial in which a precedent-shattering, multimillion-dollar judgment was awarded to The Beatles.
  • Represented Rip Torn in an action against Dennis Hopper, securing an award of $1 million in actual and punitive damages for defamation in connection with the Academy Award-winning motion picture “Easy Rider.”
  • Established new legal precedent on the right of publicity concerning the use of actors’ likenesses in an action by George Wendt and John Ratzenberger against Host International.
  • Handled a dispute among the songwriters of the musical “Jekkyl & Hyde.”
  • Represented a Broadway actress who was being harassed backstage by her co-star and assisted her in asserting a grievance before Actors’ Equity.
  • Handled trademark claims brought against touring productions and have handled a number of disputes over the acquisition of rights, including the right to use the songs of Janis Joplin in the musical “Love, Janis.”
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