Media and entertainment in Australia
Special Broadcasting Service
Twenty First Century Fox
Fox Sports Australia
- Advised on Fox Sports’ new rights deal worth $1bn plus extending Fox Sports’ rights to the rugby league to 2027.
- Advised Prime Media Group Limited in the context of a takeover offer by Seven West Media. Allens worked with the lawyers from Seven West Media to ensure that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) gave prior approval to a proposed merger between Prime and Seven that would have resulted in multiple breaches of the media diversity laws in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 in six regional areas in Western Australia.
- Advised SBS on the sunsetting of the Determination made under paragraph (c) of the definition of broadcasting service (No. 1 of 2000) (Alston Determination) and the repeal and remaking of the Alston Determination.
Ashurst fields a full-service media and entertainment practice, specialising in transactions, regulatory and licensing matters, advertising, and pre-publication advice, among other matters. Practice head Lisa Ritson is also an expert when it comes to supporting media industry giants with IP matters while Robert Todd is widely considered one of Australia’s foremost defamation experts. The pair operate from Sydney, as does Anita Cade who is routinely engaged for production agreements, content licenses pertaining to movies, music, and television, as well as media-related disputes.
Nine Entertainment Co. Holdings Limited
News Corporation / Nationwide News
Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)
Re.Group Pty Ltd and Naveen David Singh
Trusted Media Brands, Inc.
News Life Media
Conde Nast Publications
Endemol Shine Australia
The Newspaper Works Limited
- Advised Nine on its A$125m sale of the Australian Community Media (the publisher of nearly 200 regional newspapers an associated on-line publications) and Australian printing business to Antony Catalano and Thorney Investment Group.
- Acting for Google in responding to the ACCC’s highly-publicised Digital Platforms Inquiry, and work streams emerging from the Inquiry – which examined the impact of digital platforms (primarily Google and Facebook) on competition in the media and advertising services markets.
- Acting for the Sunday Telegraph and its political editor Ms Annika Smethurst in their successful High Court challenge to warrants obtained by the Australian Federal Police that sought to authorise a police raid on Ms Smethurst’s property.
Active on the full array of relevant matters, Baker McKenzie’s media and entertainment department counts content licensing and distribution agreements, IP and defamation disputes, as well as regulatory issues among its core expertise. Andrew Stewart is at the helm of the practice and is notable for his experience of media-related copyright matters, including online enforcement; he works from Sydney alongside Adrian Lawrence, a specialist in product launches and partnerships. Elsewhere in Melbourne, Andrea Kennedy excels when it comes to M&A, telecommunications and privacy matters, and consumer issues. The team has also earned acclaim for its pre-publication and transactional work.
Meltwater Australia Pty Limited
Motion Picture Association (MPA)
Nine Network Australia
- Acting for these entities, Australian film makers/distributors (Roadshow and Madman) and other content owners, on site blocking matters in Australia.
- Assisted and advised on an agreement with Quantium in relation to data analytics of Fetch TV viewing activity.
- Advising on the set up of operations for Australian audiences, including in relation to ByteDance’s hugely popular TikTok app.
The offering at Bird & Bird includes a range of support services such as pre and post-publication advice, media regulation, privacy and data security, employment, and copyright matters. The team is also engaged in defamation disputes and specialises in media-related corporate deals and due diligence. The key names in the Sydney office are Shane Barber who specialises in advising global advertising industry participants on their business in Australia and Sophie Dawson, a lawyer with a track record of handling landmark media disputes. She is noted, alongside senior associate Jarrad Parker and associate Joel Parsons, as 'excellent to work with'. Distinguished sectors of expertise include video games, eSports, and sports.
Other key lawyers:
‘Excellent depth of experience in the media industry in Australia and access to international networks and resources which can provide relevant information and expertise to assist in evolving Australian issues.’
‘The team is very responsive, keen to share knowledge with their clients, and very experienced in working with Australian media, so have great expertise.’
‘Sophie Dawson, Jarrad Parker and Joel Parsons are all excellent to work with.’
Nine Entertainment Co Limited
City of Sydney
Take-Two Interactive Software/Rockstar Games, Inc
Australian Police Journal
The Players’ Tribune
Novartis Consumer Healthcare
- Engaged by Nine Entertainment on a variety of privacy, regulatory and other matters
- Acting for Rugby Australia on the formal tender process for media rights for the next 5-year cycle (2021-2025), including rights to all Southern Hemisphere rugby including rights to matches in The Rugby Championship, Super Rugby, Wallaby Test matches, All Blacks Test matches and Springboks Test matches, and the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa (2021) and Australia (2025).
- Acting for Take-Two in proceedings concerning unauthorised mods written for its game, Grand Theft Auto V.
At Clayton Utz, expertise for the team spans media ownership, content arrangements, transactions, M&A, sporting and broadcasting rights, disputes, regulatory advice, reputational management, and advertising clearance. Bruce Lloyd leads the department which includes Tim Webb, a lawyer engaged by several household names from a range of sectors including Facebook, Isentia, and Seven Network. A further name to note is recently made up partner Walid Sukari; he is a specialist when it comes to media-rights advice, particularly in the sporting sector. Kate Jordan departed to take up a general counsel role.
Isentia Group Limited
NOVA Entertainment Pty Ltd
Seven Network (part of Seven West Media)
Racing.com Pty Ltd
Australian Rugby League Commission and National Rugby League
Free TV Australia
- Acting for Facebook, Inc and its subsidiaries in Federal Court proceedings relating to the alleged impermissible harvesting of user log-in details from the Facebook and Instagram platforms.
- Acting for ASX-listed Isentia, the largest media monitoring organisation in the Asia-Pacific, in Copyright Tribunal of Australia proceedings with respect to the licensing arrangements offered by Copyright Agency Limited.
- Acting for Free TV, the industry body that represents free-to-air Australian television networks, in relation the implementation of the PacificAus TV government initiative in relation to the provision of Australian-related content to certain Pacific Island nations.
Lawyers at Corrs Chambers Westgarth are known for their ‘excellent communication’ and ability to ‘get straight to the heart of the issue’. The department prides itself on its full-service offering with the workload of late showcasing matters as varied as media-related corporate transactions, defamation, and other disputes and regulatory issues. Practice head James North is well-versed in acting for media companies and broadcasters on corporate and commercial affairs such as content licensing and acquisitions; his team also includes Adam Foreman, a governance and reputation management specialist, and special counsel Jennifer Dean who gears her practice towards regulatory matters such as diversity and content regulation. Clients also single out defamation, contempt, and pre-publication expert, Richard Leder, for recommendation, hailing him as ‘respected throughout the Australian media scene’. Named lawyers are based in Sydney.
‘Excellent communication, get straight to the heart of the problem. Have the confidence of management and the editorial team. Our dealings with other firms have always led us back to Corrs’ door.’
‘Richard Leder has been our long time partner and does an excellent job both in trust and communication. We understand the way he works and he understands our business and beliefs.’
In the fast-moving world of media, whether it is TV, print, or online, you need to have a media lawyer who you can trust to provide expert advice quickly at any time of the day. That advice must be robust enough to not stop you from publishing an accurate story for fear of being sued. As an editor and a TV news director, you want to know that if we are sued will we win. I have worked with Richard Leder at Corrs for more than 20 years, both as a newspaper editor and as a TV director of news. He is always pushing to find ways to run the story which is the true test of a good media lawyer. I have never been successfully sued and never gone to jail. I trust his advice implicitly.’
‘Richard Leder has been the stand out partner at Corrs and the Melbourne media scene for 20 years, specialising in media law. He is respected throughout the Australian media scene by hard to please media executives. He is easy to work with and he is always calm which is important in high-stress environments. And he loves media and always wants the story to be published, but there is enough trust to know that if Richard says it is too dangerous don’t run it. That’s all you want in a media lawyer.’
Southern Cross Austereo
CBS and parent company National Amusements
REA Group Limited
ASX Listed Media Company
Channel 7 Melbourne
Richard Di Natale (Leader of the Australian Greens)
- Achieved success for clients, the Wagners, in the third instalment of their claims against media organisations who defamed them in the wake of the tragic Grantham Floods. In an excoriating judgment Justice Applegarth decided to award the Wagners a total of $3.6m plus interest and indemnity costs against Channel Nine and journalist Nick Cater.
- Advised Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) in respect of its proposed acquisition of Redwave Media group from Seven West Media Group Limited (SWM), being SWM’s WA regional radio business.
- Providing ongoing advice on Australian regulatory compliance including in relation to the operation of the Ten All Access streaming service, content classification, Australian consumer law issues and consumer contracting.
Gilbert + Tobin
Gilbert + Tobin is home to a cross-practice, multi-disciplinary media and entertainment team which leverages noteworthy expertise in relation to social media legal issues, strategic transactions, commercial initiatives, and defamation matters, acting on behalf of both individuals and media entities. Sydney-based Michael Williams leads the department, deploying his track record of high-profile IP and media disputes; his team also includes Siabon Seet whose core strengths include brand protection, consumer protection law, and advertising and marketing matters. The team is also reputed for regulation, content licensing, digital rights management, telecommunications, and broadcasting matters.
Glass Candy songwriters Johnny Padgett and Lori Monahan
Motion Picture Association of America
New Zealand Screen Association
The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment
Nine Entertainment Company
Cathy O’Toole MP
State Street Global Advisors
Mr Sachin Tendulkar and SRT Sports Management Pvt Ltd
National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA)
Take-Two Interactive, Inc
Quadrant Private Equity
- Acting on a landmark copyright case in Australia. The Federal Court’s highly anticipated judgment was handed down on 24 April 2020, it traversed a multitude of issues including originality of a short 5 note musical work, a 5 word literary phrase, effect of APRA AMCOS arrangements on entitlement to sue and the scope of the communication right in Australia.
- Acting for the major motion picture studios (and Netflix) in key copyright enforcement and lobbying activity, including a series of operations against suppliers of infringing TV set top boxes in Australia and New Zealand, and obtaining world-first amendments to the Copyright Act that require search engines to delist blocked pirate websites.
- Acted for Nine with respect to the ACMA’s regulatory investigation into Nine’s compliance with the Broadcasting Services (Online Content Service Provider Rules) 2018 during Games 1 and 2 of the 2019 State of Origin. Nine faced particular scrutiny with respect to online advertising during sporting events on its 9Now app, in light of restrictions on gambling promotional content and advertisements. The investigation was concluded on terms requiring no pecuniary penalty.
Johnson Winter & Slattery’s media and entertainment practice is fronted by Sydney-based Kevin Lynch, a lawyer vastly experienced in brand protection, defamation, broadcast regulation, contractual affairs, and IP matters, handling contentious and non-contentious mandates alike. His team is active across a broad range of industries, counting magazine broadcasters, magazine publishers, newspapers, and film companies among its client list. A notable distinguisher for the department is its 24-hour email and phone availability for pre-publication advice.
Other key lawyers:
‘We have a longstanding relationship with JWS of over 9 years and they are a premier media law firm in relation to pre-publication, defamation, contempt, and media technology.’
‘They deliver high-quality service. Kevin Lynch is a very experienced, practical, commercial in approach, and cost-effective. He is a great communicator with editorial staff. Kevin advises on complex issues relating to search engine liability in respect of defamation law and was instrumental in the settlement of a long-running litigation matter.’
Seven Network (Operations) Ltd
Bauer Media Group
Verizon Media Australia Pty Limited
Microsoft Australia Pty Limited
Australian National University (defamation)
Endemol Shine Australia Pty Ltd
TheHuffingtonPost Holdings LLC
The Wine Group LLC (US)
- A Melbourne solicitor sued the client internet corporation in two separate proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria for defamation arising from the publication of search engine results, image search results, and the underlying third-party webpages.
- Verizon was the defendant in defamation proceedings in the District Court of South Australia commenced by defamation plaintiff, Dr Janice Duffy in September 2018.
- Advising in relation to the $40m acquisition of Pacific Magazines from Seven West Media
The team at Minter Ellison is active across a broad breadth of sectors including social media, broadcasting, online media, print, and podcasts. Its workload is equally as expansive, encompassing ACMA matters, defamation, content issues, copyright and licensing, privacy, and M&As in the media space. Peter Bartlett leads the department from Melbourne, imparting his expertise in publication risks from both a domestic and international perspective. The team is also actively engaged for suppression orders, employment, IP, contempt and privacy matters, super injunctions, and freedom of information requests.
Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC)
Nine Entertainment Co.
Commonwealth Government of Australia
The New York Times
- Defence of media rights in the high-profile prosecution of Cardinal Pell.
- Represented Foxtel, Australia’s largest subscription television provider, in one of the first proceedings in the Federal Court that led to the nationwide blocking of infamous pirate websites The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound and IsoHunt.
- Acting in significant defamation proceedings brought by Ben Roberts-Smith, one of Australia’s most decorated war veterans, in relation to three articles published by Fairfax Media mastheads in 2018 that implicate the plaintiff in serious misconduct amounting to murder, war crimes and domestic violence.
Banki Haddock Fiora
Banki Haddock Fiora, a boutique IP and media firm, counts defamation work as its foremost area of expertise, frequently appearing in high-profile disputes on behalf of defendants. The team is also well-placed to assist with contempt, suppression order applications, pre-publication advice, trade practice, and privacy matters in addition to a range of corporate and commercial mandates such as acquisitions, licensing, and compliance work. In Sydney, Leanne Norman represents several household names in the broadcasting and publishing space; she heads the practice alongside Peter Banki and Bruce Burke.
‘The team are specialists in media and entertainment law and are one of the most experienced teams in Australia. They are trusted by some of the largest media organisations in the country and have worked on landmark cases in this area.’
‘Leanne Norman is a partner at Banki Haddock Fiora. Her sharp and strategic mind, extensive experience, and determined, calm demeanor are some of her best qualities. Over the years she has proven time and time again that she is a safe pair of hands to run our litigation.’
Nine Entertainment (formerly Fairfax Media Publications)
Harper Collins Publishers Australia
Australasian Performing Right Association
Australian Community Media
Bauer Media (incorporating Pacific Magazines)
Nine Radio (formerly Macquarie Radio/Harbour Radio)
Network TEN Pty Ltd
News Corporation Australia
Australian News Channel (known as Sky News)
Australian Radio Network
M&C Saatchi Agency Pty Ltd
Stan Entertainment Pty Ltd
Copyright Agency Limited
- Acted for Fairfax Media, Australian News Channel and Nationwide News at first instance and on appeal in proceedings. The matter is notable as it raises the issue of the liability of a mass media publisher for posts made on its Facebook page by members of the public who are users of Facebook; an issue not previously considered by an Australian Court.
- Acting for HarperCollins and Steve Cannane in defamation proceedings brought by Dr John Gill and Dr John Herron concerning the book Fair Game: The Incredible Untold Story of Scientology in Australia. The matters complained of relate to events that occurred up to 50 years ago and were the subject of a Royal Commission. The challenge has been to overcome this when mounting a defence of truth.
- The firm provided in-house legal counsel secondment services to Stan, a leading Australian video on-demand platform, after the company lost its in-house legal team. The work included negotiating and drafting all the company’s content licensing agreements and providing general commercial, corporate and employment law advice, and advising on policy, for a period until a new in-house legal team was apponted.
Hall & Wilcox is home to a dedicated sports and entertainment practice, fronted by the 'outstanding' Martin Ross in Melbourne. The client roster spans sporting organisations, corporates, governing bodies, athletes, agencies, and sponsors, both Australian and international, who rely on the team for transaction, governance, dispute, media rights, IP, and regulatory work, among other matters. Ross’ track record includes major sponsorship agreements, sporting-related M&A, and advice on rules and regulations; he operates from Melbourne alongside James Deady whose practice encompasses marketing and promotion matters, outsourcing, and IT contracts.
Other key lawyers:
‘Superior knowledge of the sports sector – particularly the way players and governing bodies need to manage risk.
‘Martin Ross is outstanding. The sports sector has a lot of “alpha males” that are difficult to deal with at the best of times, let alone in moments of stress that arise during large commercial deals and or public conflicts. Martin is obviously a very good lawyer, but he’s also an ingredient that clearly provides a sense of safety for these senior executives.’
‘I can compare to other firms with any detailed experience, however, H&W is extremely responsive. Rarely does any query go beyond 12 hours and the advice or direction is precise.’
Herbert Smith Freehills
At Herbert Smith Freehills, clients are provided with ‘expert media knowledge, professionalisms, timeliness, and problem solving’. The team is active on a number of fronts including high-end corporate transactions, M&A, content creation and agreements, competition matters, disputes, and IP affairs, and is also able to support on employment, privacy, and data protection matters. In Sydney, Kristin Stammer is well-versed in sales, acquisitions, and joint ventures, while Rebecca Maslen-Stannage is revered for her work on media-related deals, including those with a cross-border element; they jointly head the practice alongside Perth-based Tony Joyner.
Other key lawyers:
‘Expert knowledge in area, professionalism, timeliness, problem-solving.’
‘Melanie Bouton in the Sydney office of HSF is very responsive and very professional and a pleasure to deal with.’
Seven West Media Limited
BMG Rights Management GmbH
IVE Group Limited
Tabcorp Holdings Limited
Pacific Magazines Pty Limited
Sky News Australia (Australian News Channel)
- Acted for Seven West Media in its successful sale of Pacific Magazines to Bauer Media.
- Advised Tabcorp on all aspects of its possible acquisition of the WA TAB, including on its participation in the public sale process and competition law related issues.
- Advised Seven West Media on its proposed acquisition of Prime Media Group Limited.
Kennedys operates across the media, defamation, and broadcasting landscapes, representing a client roster of corporates, insurers, media groups, politicians, celebrities, and sporting bodies. The practice is primarily focused on reputational risk management and plaintiff-led defamation disputes though also complements its offering with sponsorship, brand management, broadcasting agreement, publication injunction, and telecommunications expertise. In Sydney, practice head Patrick George boasts a number of landmark defamation disputes under his belt.
Australian Olympic Committee
The Honourable Paul Keating, Former Prime Minister
The Honourable Kevin Rudd, Former Prime Minister
Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Michael McCormack
- Successfully represented former political staffer Ben Davies in defamation proceedings brought against the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and publisher BuzzFeed, following the publication of false statements relating to the execution of search warrants by the Australian Federal Police on the AWU, which was itself the subject of Federal Court proceedings.
- Acted for Steve Phillips, highly regarded scientist in koala behaviour, in proceedings brought against him by the owner of Bluesfest, Peter Noble. Mr Phillips had expressed opinions in an interview for The Guardian about the decline in numbers of koalas in their habitat in the surrounds of the site of the annual Bluesfest, blues, and roots festival, at Byron Bay. Mr Noble sued him and The Guardian for defamation.
- Acting on the first-ever piece of litigation between sitting members of Parliament, attracting a substantial amount of publicity and media attention. The dispute between Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and the former Senator David Leyonhjelm raised important issues about the treatment of women in the workplace, particularly in politics. The firm represented Sarah Hanson-Young in pre-defamation proceedings against Mr Leyonhjelm based on a number of press interviews and public statements that he made throughout 2018 concerning Ms Hansen-Young. Judgment was delivered in the client’s favour.
King & Wood Mallesons
Key staples of King & Wood Mallesons range from privacy matters, brand protection, and competition law to sponsorship and licensing deals and advertising and marketing affairs. Katrina Rathie and Renae Lattey are the key contacts, catering to a client roster that includes publishers, film studios, advertisers, and content developers.
A Sydney-based IP, media, and entertainment boutique, Simpsons Solicitors is jointly fronted by Adam Simpson, Jules Munro, and Mark Bamford. Its varied client roster includes music, video game, TV, publishing, and film companies in addition to galleries, museums, and government institutions. The team has had a particularly active year in terms of trade mark and copyright disputes though is also acclaimed for its handling of media-related acquisitions and divestments, portfolio management, financing, and production arrangements, licensing, and asset structuring matters.
‘I’m very impressed by Simpsons’ quality of work and efficiency. They’ve become an extension of our in-house legal team.’
‘Simpsons’ advice is very practical. They understand our business and are results orientated.’
‘Adam Simpson and Jules Munro are both very experienced lawyers and provide excellent, practical advice. They know IP/copyright law like the backs of their hands!’
Interactive Games and Entertainment Association Ltd (IGEA)
Kobalt Music Publishing Pty Ltd
Soapbox Industries Pty Ltd and New Town Films Pty Ltd
Universal Music Publishing Pty Ltd and Songs of Universal, Inc
Fulcrum Media Finance Pty Ltd
The Wiggles Group Pty Ltd and various Australian subsidiaries
The Finch Company
National Gallery of Australia
Riot Games, Inc
Hachette Publishing Group
- Representing Kobalt Music Group in Australia’s in relation to the hit song “Love Is In The Air” (Adam Simpson, Clare Young, Sebastian Tonkin);
- Advising Fulcrum Media Finance in its involvement in approximately 85% of film and TV finance deals in Australia and New Zealand (Mark Bamford, Kieren Martin, Angela Scurrah, Zac Parker);
- Advising Universal Music in the major acquisition of the music publishing catalogue of Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC (Jules Munro, Amy Grondal)
HWL Ebsworth’s media and entertainment offering spans pre- and post-publication advice, suppression orders, advertising, regulatory, IP, and media ownership matters. Luke Dale is a specialist in music licensing and social media, while Peter Campbell can be relied upon for domestic and overseas cross-border deals; alongside associate Caitlin Surman, he is also active on the media disputes front.
Kay and Hughes
At Kay and Hughes, the client roster encompasses artists, venues, brands, producers, and agents along with a number of cultural institutions and arts organisations. Located in Sydney, the firm is completely dedicated to the media, entertainment, and arts industries with specialist knowledge of defamation, dispute, contract, employment, consumer law, contract, and IP matters. Managing partner Ben Kay is the key contact, serving as practice head.
Sydney Writers Festival
Belvoir Theatre Company
Special Group Australia
Sydney Dance Company
National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA)
Live Performance Australia
Olsen Gallery and John Olsen
- Advised Special Group Australia Pty Ltd in regard to Special Group’s award-winning Tonight I’ll be Eating advertising campaigns for Uber Eats Australia featuring talent including Kim Kardashian West, Magda Szubanski, Jimmy Barnes, John Farnham and Anh Do.
- Acting for Giant Dwarf Pty Ltd and The Checkout Pty Ltd in its Supreme Court of NSW claims against Cordell Jigsaw Productions Pty Ltd.
Mark O'Brien Legal
Located in Sydney, Mark O'Brien Legal specialises in media and defamation law, acting for both organisations and individual plaintiffs on a range of disputes. The firm’s namesake, Mark O'Brien, leads the practice, leveraging a history of handling defamation, contempt, IP, copyright, and broadcasting matters. Paul Svilans is the other name to note; he is engaged for contentious and non-contentious matters alike with specialist knowledge of statutory restrictions and defamation insurance, among other matters.
Other key lawyers:
Daily Mail Australia
Dr Chau Chak Wing
Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG
Crown Resorts Limited
- Representing Seven West Media Limited, Dailymail.com Australia Pty Limited and Bauer Media Limited in their intervention application in NSW Court of Appeal defamation proceedings brought by Fairfax Media Publications Pty Limited and two other publishers consequent upon an adverse ruling in the Court below.
- Represented Ben Roberts-Smith in relation to the defamation proceedings against Fairfax Media in the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
- Representing Chris Gayle in relation to his defamation proceedings brought against Fairfax Media in the New South Wales Supreme Court.