Media and entertainment in Canada
Dentons' media and entertainment group is highly regarded for its work in the film and television industries, where it acts for major Hollywood studios, digital media platforms, independent producers, and a host of other media companies. In addition to providing full-service tax, litigation, commercial and IP, and labour advice, the practice notably handles the financing of large-budget domestic and foreign films, television programmes and new media productions, acting for both borrowers and lenders. Ken Dhaliwal and Jim Russell jointly lead the team from Toronto; Juliet Smith in Vancouver is a standout figure in the media and entertainment market in British Columbia; and Jayme Alter is a rising star associate, also in the Toronto office.
Other key lawyers:
Spin Master Ltd.
Anthem Entertainment Group
First Generation Films Inc.
Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
Land of Dreams Productions Inc.
Banger Media Inc.
WOW! Unlimited Media Inc.
New Metric Media
Sinking Ship Productions
- Advised Shopify Inc. on the launch of a television and film content and production studio called “Shopify Studios”.
- Provided Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation with ongoing general legal counsel for all corporate, securities and regulatory matters in Canada.
- Advised Banger Media Inc. on all aspects of its series, Hip Hop Evolution, from closing the financing to negotiating and settling the licensing, distribution and production documentation.
According to one client, 'what sets Goodmans LLP apart in the media and entertainment sphere is its industry knowledge and real-time intelligence relating to policy changes and guidance on industry trends'. Highlighted for its experience advising production companies and broadcasters, the team has deep expertise in production financing, international co-productions and handling sales to distributors and broadcasters, both in Canada and internationally. The firm is also able to provide comprehensive corporate, tax, investment and IP advice in connection with distribution, acquisition and production agreements. Practice head David Zitzerman has significant experience representing US clients. Other key names are Tara Parker and Carolyn Stamegna, who has extensive expertise in international transactions. Named lawyers are based in Toronto.
‘Strong and in depth knowledge of the industry. Excellent working relationship based on mutual respect and trust’
‘Carolyn Stamegna has strong and in depth knowledge of the industry. Always available to discuss via email or phone. Very strong focus on closing negotiations to meet deadlines.’
‘Like most firms, the service is great, however, what sets Goodmans apart in the media and entertainment sphere is their industry knowledge and real-time intelligence relating to policy changes/guidance and industry trends. This is likely partly a result of the fact that they represent media companies of all types both in Canada and abroad.’
‘Tara Parker is an incredible lawyer technically, but also has keen understanding of business and, specifically and most importantly, our business. She always offers solutions that are both legally sound and commercially pragmatic.’
‘David Zitzerman’s understanding of structuring complex international productions is unparalleled. He is regarded as the top lawyer in Canada for these types of deals which is becomes evident quickly when working with him.’
‘They provide relevant and timely service and expertise – Canadian leadership in this sector for both domestic and foreign service production issues across all types of practice’
Bell Media Inc.
Creative Wealth Media
Disney ABC Cable Networks Group
Dreamworks Animation Television LLC
The Fred Rogers Company
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Kew Media Group
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
Motion Picture Association – Canada
9 Story Media
The Toronto Arrows
Turner Broadcasting System Inc.
Writers Guild Canada
Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP's Toronto-based entertainment group has acted for major publishers, producers, distributors, broadcasters, theatres, copyright collectives and advertising agencies. Co-chair Casey Chisick has expertise in copyright law, and Leonard Glickman is a contact for sponsorship and branding issues.
Fasken's entertainment and media team is well known for representing telecoms, broadcasting and internet companies in litigation and before administrative tribunals, including the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). In addition, the team has capabilities in copyright, trademark, digital licensing and branding work, as well as various other commercial transactions. Toronto-based Barbara Miller brings her extensive experience of investment deals, M&A and financings of telecoms and broadcasting entities. Gerald Kerr-Wilson in Ottawa co-heads the practice alongside Karam Bayrakal in Vancouver, who also leads the firm's specialized video games sub-group, which acts for publishers and independent developers across a variety of console, mobile and PC-based platforms.
Other key lawyers:
Rogers Media Inc.
Rogers Communications Canada Inc.
Sirius XM Canada Inc.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation / Société Radio-Canada
- Acted for SaskTel, Eastlink and TekSavvy in copyright claims for statutory damages against some internet service providers.
- Acted for Rogers Communications Canada Inc. in carriage disputes involving Canadian and non-Canadian programming services.
- Acted for Sirius XM Canada Inc. in its application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to renew its licence to operate a satellite subscription radio service in Canada.
Gowling WLG's entertainment team 'consistently stands out for offering its clients personalized, candid legal advice that weights legal risk and identifies reputational considerations'. Highlighted in part for its marriage of 'legal acumen with low ego, pragmatism and a sense of humour', the practice group acts for a wide variety of clients across the industry, including musicians and record labels; film and television producers; and actors, authors and athletes. In addition, the team works in conjunction with the firm's IP practice in copyright, trademarks, branding and design matters, where it represents music, video game and book publishers. The practice is headed by Toronto-based Susan Abramovitch, who is qualified in Ontario, New York and Quebec.
‘Gowlings consistently stands out for offering its clients personalized, candid legal advice that weights legal risk and identifies reputational considerations. Their size and international relationships allow them to serve their clients locally and through global offices or via affiliated firms. Much of this is table stakes for large national firms with a breadth of practice. What distinguishes Gowlings is the marriage of legal acumen with low ego, pragmatism and a sense of humour.’
‘Susan Abramovitch is our primary contact for media and entertainment legal support, and she epitomizes the same qualities that set the firm apart: deep subject matter expertise and experience, approach-ability and a strong customer focus with pragmatism and a sense of humour. Susan doesn’t pre-judge a situation or matter. Rather, she elucidates in straight forward terms the considerations at play and what options are available to the client based on its risk tolerance.’
‘We used Gowling WLG’s Media and Entertainment practice for one reason – Susan Abramovitch. Working with Susan was extraordinarily valuable. Without her help we would not have secured an agreement to publish our book. In addition to her depth of experience in this area, Susan responded incredibly quickly to any request we had. Finally, in the context of a quite contentious dispute, she was also empathetic and maintained a sense of humour – all very much appreciated.’
‘The media and entertainment practice provided our organization with the advice and counsel of an experienced lawyer who was able to help us maneuver and understand the complexities of an agreement but also identify areas where terms were improved and risks were mitigated.’
‘When we first sought advice, Shelagh Carnegie and Kevin Sartorio provided their thoughts on the agreement but then suggested that we engage Susan Abramovitch. Having worked with Susan on a previous deal, we were unfortunately not in a position to pay for services we expected to be prolonged. At that point, Kevin suggested that we might be a good candidate for pro-bono work and indeed, were approved within a matter of a week. All three lawyers, Shelagh, Kevin and Susan have been great to work with, very supportive and available. Specifically, Susan was available throughout the week, on weekends and outside of ”normal” work weeks. She was tireless in her support and committed to helping us get the best agreement possible. Through the course of the negotiations with an extremely challenging lawyer, Susan continued to seek solutions and offer advice – she truly felt like a part of our team.’
Universal Music Canada
Jane Goodall Institute Global
Quinlan Road/Loreena McKennitt
Great Big Sea
Royal Bank of Canada
National Arts Centre Corporation
Maison Battat Toys
Secret City Records/Publishing
Six Shooter Records
Brad Roberts/Crash Test Dummies
Miller Thomson has developed a reputation in the areas of film, television and gaming, where it advises clients on corporate transactions, IP licensing and commercial disputes, among other matters. Vancouver-based Eva Schmieg heads the team. The firm also has offices in Montréal, Toronto and Calgary.