Media and entertainment: litigation in United States

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP houses a wide range of experienced media and entertainment litigators across both coasts, with the capacity to handle the full spectrum of litigation matters that crop up in the sector. The firm has a strong track record in defamation and first amendment matters and acts for both individual reporters and media companies. A key recent instruction was the representation of CNN and Jim Acosta in a lawsuit arising from the Trump administration's revocation of Acosta's White House press credentials. In this area of the firm's practice, LA-based Theodore Boutrous is a central figure: He frequently represents clients in the some of the most notable defamation cases filed in California, as well as high-profile document request and First Amendment cases. Leadership duties within the practice are split between the firm's east and west coast offerings, with Orin Snyder and Scott Edelman operating out of New York and LA respectively. Both Edelman and Snyder have a wide range of experience in entertainment-related litigation, representing clients in class actions, profit participation cases, and IP litigation. In January 2020, Ilissa Samplin was promoted to the partnership, with a practice that covers IP and defamation matters, as well as profit participation.

Practice head(s):

Scott Edelman; Orin Snyder

Other key lawyers:

Theodore Boutrous; Ilissa Samplin; Nathaniel Bach;

Key clients

MGM

Sony

UMG Recordings

AMC

CNN

CBS

Brian Karem

EMI

Theory Entertainment

Yahoo

Facebook

Jerry Seinfeld

Worldwide Pants

Machine Zone

Independent Sports & Entertainment

Lady Gaga

Heaven’s Door Spirits

Founders and early employees of Tinder

SoundCloud

Work highlights

  • On behalf of MGM, successfully opposed class certification in Buck v. MGM Studios Inc., which alleged that the studio was improperly reporting and underpaying plaintiffs’ shares of contingent compensation related to home video.
  • Represents Facebook and its directors and officers in all civil litigation arising out of reports of the alleged misuse of Facebook user data by Cambridge Analytica and related parties, including securities class action cases, shareholder derivative cases, and consumer class actions.
  • Defending UMG Recordings, Inc. in a putative class action lawsuit filed in the Central District of California by recording artists seeking damages from UMG over the loss of master recordings in a June 1, 2008 fire.
  • Representing Lady Gaga in connection with a threatened copyright infringement claim against the Oscar- winning song “Shallow” from the 2018 feature film A Star Is Born.
  • Represented Brian Karem in a case concerning the suspension of White House press credentials, resulting in a preliminary injunction preventing the suspension.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

Experienced trial lawyer Daniel Petrocelli heads the litigation team at O'Melveny & Myers LLP, which has the capability to cover a wide range of mandates in the media and entertainment space. Intellectual property litigation is a key area of work for the firm, with recent instructions relating to copyright infringement, image rights, and trademark infringement, including IP-related class action work. The firm is also highly experienced in defending large studios, networks, and production companies against profit participation claims, and Petrocelli recently acted for Fox in a lawsuit brought by individuals involved in the television show Bones, succeeding in overturning an arbitral award of $128m in punitive damages, and settling the case before a further appeal. Molly Lens is also recommended for her expertise in profit participation, copyright, and contract disputes, while Cassandra Seto is highly regarded for copyright disputes in the broadcast space.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Petrocelli

Other key lawyers:

Molly Lens; Cassandra Seto; James Pearl

Key clients

Ariana Grande

AT&T Inc.

Fox Entities (including 20th Century Fox, 21st Century Fox and Fox Sports)

Global Music Rights

HBO

Kesha

Manny Pacquiao

Sirius XM Radio Inc.

The Walt Disney Company

Warner Bros.

Work highlights

  • Defended AT&T and Time Warner’s landmark US$85.4 billion merger against claims by the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division that the transaction would harm competition and should be blocked.
  • Successfully defended Disney in two high-profile copyright infringement claims involving an award-winning animated feature film.
  • Secured the dismissal of a multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit filed against Shannon Beador, one of the stars of the reality television show Real Housewives of Orange County. The case was filed by the ex-husband of former Real Housewives cast member Alexis Bellino, and centered around statements Beador made at an Orange County comedy club.
  • Representing Fox in a tortious-interference suit against Netflix, alleging Netflix hired senior staff from Fox while they were working under fixed-term contracts.
  • Representing superstar Ariana Grande in connection with her lawsuit against Forever 21 that claims at least US$10 million in damages after the fashion retailer allegedly stole her persona and intellectual property to promote its brand for free and create the false impression that Ms. Grande endorsed the company.

Latham & Watkins LLP

The Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins LLP is home to a litigation team with wide-ranging experience across the entertainment and media sectors, with a client list including high-profile agencies, studios, and individuals. The firm is highly recommended for disputes arising from collective bargaining and union activity and notably acts for the Association of Talent Agents in relation to its dispute with the WGA over a franchise agreement. Marvin Putnam chairs the practice, and is active across the full spectrum of matters handled by the firm. Another focus area for the team is intellectual property disputes. Practitioners such as Daniel Schecter have a strong track record in this sector, advising on trademark, trade secrets, and copyright matters. Robert Ellison is another key figure in the team, and recently acted for MGM alongside Putnam in relation to a defamation suit brought against president Trump by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos.

Practice head(s):

Marvin Putnam

Other key lawyers:

Daniel Schecter; Robert Ellison; Jessica Stebbins Bina; Laura Washington

Key clients

Associations of Talent Agents (ATA)

Courtside Group, Inc.

Elliott Broidy

Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA)

International Creative Management Partners, LLC (ICM)

Johnny Mathis

Lik USA and Peter Lik

Madison Wells Media, LLC

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (“MGM”)/Mark Burnett Productions

Miramax

SteelHouse, Inc.

Technicolor

The Los Angeles Dodgers

United States Soccer Federation (“USSF”)

Univision Communications Inc.

Work highlights

  • Defended PodcastOne and its Chairman, radio and podcast mogul Norm Pattiz, in connection with several lawsuits and claims brought by disgruntled former employees out of alleged harassment and illegal firings.
  • Defending Madison Wells Media in multiple claims arising from a fire which broke out in an apartment building, that was partially in use by the company as a filming location, and which plaintiffs allege was caused by the production company’s negligence.
  • Serves as counsel to Elliott Broidy, the Los Angeles-based venture capitalist and former Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee, in a California state court lawsuit brought by former Playboy model Shera Bechard, stemming from the supposed breach of her nondisclosure agreement regarding their consensual extramarital affair.
  • Defending Miramax in several cases arising out of the offences committed by Harvey Weinstein.
  • Representing talent agency ICM in a lawsuit brought by the Writer’s Guild of America, alleging that the industry practice of packaging talent with intellectual property is illegal.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP' media and entertainment team operates primarily out of its New York Office, and has a strong following in the music sector, primarily acting for trade associations, large broadcast clients, and Live events promoters in relation to their licensing of intellectual property for broadcast or use in programming. A notable recent mandate, led by IP litigator and practice co-head Benjamin Marks, was the representation of the North American Concert Promoters Association in a dispute with performing rights organization Broadcast Music Inc.. Marks and fellow co-head Bruce Rich are both highly recommended for copyright work and both have strong track records in the entertainment sector for copyright infringement work. Yehudah Buchweitz is another notable name within the practice and acts on several cases for key client CBS, dealing with issues ranging from antitrust to insolvency. In early 2019, Jessica Falk was promoted to the partnership.

Practice head(s):

R. Bruce Rich; Benjamin Marks

Other key lawyers:

Yehudah Buchweitz; Jessica Falk

Key clients

Getty Images

Sirius XM Radio and its Pandora Media subsidiary

CBS Corp.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Facebook (including subsidiaries Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus)

A&E Television

Twitter

Association of American Publishers

Spotify

North American Concert Promoters

Discovery Communications

LBI Media

Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press

Television Music License Committee

Work highlights

  • Defending Sirius XM (and its Pandora subsidiary) in the Web V proceeding before the Copyright Royalty Board, a rate-setting proceeding for the non-interactive broadcast space.
  • Successfully represented A&E Television Networks in a high-profile dispute with The Weinstein Company (TWC) concerning A&E’s termination of certain inter-related agreements that it had with TWC – which related to the TV series Project Runway and dozens of TWC-produced movies – in the wake of the sexual assault scandal surrounding TWC’s co-founder, Harvey Weinstein.
  • Represents Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in its IP infringement and royalty dispute with Vanderbilt University, alleging that the University had been underpaid royalties from the literacy program Read 180.
  • Represents Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., in litigation filed by Bradley Birkenfeld, who alleges that Mr. Lauder tortuously interfered with his contract with publisher Greenleaf Book Group by sending letters claiming that his book, Lucifer’s Banker, contained false statements.
  • Represented LBI Media, the second-largest owner of Spanish-speaking television networks in the United States, in a series of disputes with a second lien bondholder group in connection with the company’s efforts to refinance its first lien debt.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is particularly prominent in the field of antitrust litigation, having recently been involved on antitrust litigation in relation to some of the sector's most market-shaping deals, particularly the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, where Peter Barbur led the firm's team and secured a victory, both on first instance, and at appeal. Katherine Forrest is another highly experienced practitioner within the firm, having previously served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and as a District Judge, and her recent cases have included internal investigations and antitrust work. The third key figure in the team is Karin DeMasi, who is involved in a wide range of matters in the media sector including employment disputes, financial litigation, and contract disputes, with notable recent clients including HBO and The Weinstein Group.

Key clients

Hasbro, Inc.

Home Box Office, Inc. (“HBO”)

New Media Investment Group Inc.

Warner Media, LLC

The Weinstein Company

Work highlights

  • Representing photographer Eric McNatt as plaintiff in a copyright infringement action filed against artist Richard Prince and international art gallery Blum & Poe in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  • Representing Hasbro, Inc. on antitrust issues in connection with its $4bn acquisition of Entertainment One Ltd.
  • Representing artist Donald Graham as plaintiff in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Richard Prince, the Gagosian Gallery and gallery owner Lawrence Gagosian, relating to infringement of Mr. Graham’s copyright in his photograph of a Rastafarian man.
  • Represented Warner Media and led the investigation of the former Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, who resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct.
  • Represented Time Warner in antitrust litigation brought by the Department of Justice, in an attempt to block Time Warner’s merger with AT&T.

Jenner & Block LLP

Jenner & Block LLP is highly active in the copyright litigation space, with a client base including large studios and production companies, trade associations, and individual rights-holders and their estates. High-profile recent instructions have included DMCA safe harbor litigation against services allowing piracy on their platforms, rate-setting, copyright infringement, and rights ownership disputes. The practice is jointly led by New York based Andrew Bart, who has a strong track record in copyright litigation, and David Singer, who operates from the Los Angeles office. The firm also represents its media clients in disputes concerning trademarks, contracts and image rights, appearing before both first-instance and appellate courts at both the state and federal level.  In the firm's Washington D.C. office, Previn Warren was promoted to the partnership in 2019, and is most notable in the copyright space, having recently been part of the team that worked on rate-setting proceedings and royalty disputes on behalf of a performing rights organisation.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Bart; David Singer

Other key lawyers:

Previn Warren; Susan Kohlmann; Steve Englund; Julie Shepard

Key clients

Universal Music Group (UMG)

21st Century Fox

Sony Music Entertainment

NBCUniversal (incl. Universal Studios)

SoundExchange

Disney

Warner Bros. Entertainment

Warner Music Group

Viacom International, Inc.

Jay Z (aka Shawn Carter)

Roc Nation

News Corp

Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

Princeton University

Interpublic Group (IPG)

Estate of Elaine Steinbeck

Nintendo

Endeavor (incl. IMG Models)

Saatchi & Saatchi

MGM Studios

Work highlights

  • Handling several copyright infringement cases related to the hit television series Empire, representing Fox Broadcasting and various other defendants.
  • Obtained a victory in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of the estate of Elaine Steinbeck, in a lawsuit over the rights to writer John Steinbeck’s iconic works.
  • Represented Nintendo in a copyright enforcement action against two popular websites, LoveRoms.com and LoveRetro.co.
  • Defended Universal Studios in a trademark infringement lawsuit based on the use of the phrase “Save the Dinos” in the 2018 motion picture Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
  • Representing S. Carter Enterprises and Jay Z in a contract dispute brought by Parlux Fragrances and Perfumania, who allege that SCE and Jay Z breached certain obligations they had under a license agreement that provided plaintiffs with the right to sell fragrances under Jay Z’s name.

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP has a strong base of clients across the music, film, and television industries, including large national broadcasters, production companies, and labels, as well as an array of high-profile individual artists and rights-holders. Intellectual property litigator Robert Jacobs leads the team from the LA office, and is particularly focused on copyright litigation. Profit participation suits are another key area of work for the firm, with recent instructions in this area including John Gatti's defense of CBS Broadcasting in a lawsuit filed by Chuck Norris's production company Top Kick Productions regarding the underpayment of royalties due for the TV series Walker, Texas Ranger. The firm is well-equipped to handle bicoastal litigation, with New York-based entertainment litigator Prana Topper, whose recent work has included several countersuits in relation to cases filed in California, often co-leading cases with members of the west coat team. Associate Maura Gierl is a name to note as up and coming.

Practice head(s):

Robert Jacobs

Other key lawyers:

John Gatti; Prana Topper; Maura Gierl

Testimonials

Mr. Robert Jacobs is a superb team leader and tremendous allocator of resources. Accordingly, he is able to field the unorthodox inquires as well as the mundane, get to the heart of a matter, and get to work. His team works tirelessly to ensure that clients are well-informed and game ready. This practice group always over performs and never over lawyers. They are results oriented and second to none.

 

Key clients

Kendrick Lamar

Universal Music Group

EMI April Music

CBS Broadcasting

Miramax Films

Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Collins Avenue Productions

Michael Moore

Fall Out Boy

Batfilm Productions

Marshmello

Steve Perry

Tracy Chapman

Timbuktu Labs

BMG Rights Management (US)

Warner/Chappell

Caryn and Mike Borland

Work highlights

  • Manatt represented all named defendants in a  copyright suit brought by a painter over the unauthorised use of her work in the video for the Kendrick Lamar All the Stars.
  • Represented EMI April Music in a bicoastal litigation filed by Kanye West, which challenged the enforceability of the publishing contract between West and EMI.
  • Filed a copyright infringement suit against Nicki Minaj on behalf of songwriter and recording artist Tracy Chapman. based on Minaj’s unauthorized use of Chapman’s musical composition “Baby Can I Hold You” in Minaj’s recording “Sorry” (featuring Nas).
  • Defending Miramax Films against a profit participation claim by Outlaw Productions and Steven Soderbergh, concerning the television licensing fees due for broadcasts of the film Sex, Lies, and Videotape.
  • Representing documentary filmmaker Michael Moore in a contract dispute with a film financier regarding the release and marketing of his documentary Fahrenheit 11/9.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP has a particularly strong following in the broadcast space, advising several large cable providers in their carriage disputes work, as well as having a strong presence in the digital publishing industry. Outside of the broadcast and publishing space, the firm is particularly active in music sector, with recent instructions coming from trade associations in relation to copyright infringement, and from performing rights societies in relation to rate-setting and royalty disputes. Lynn B. Bayard and Jay Cohen are the key figures within the practice, and both have significant experience in copyright and other media sector IP litigation. Additionally, Cohen is also recommended for his expertise in media and telecoms antitrust cases, often collaborating with members of the firm's specialist antitrust team, such as antitrust co-chair Jonathan S. Kanter.

Practice head(s):

Jay Cohen; Lynn Bayard

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Kanter

Key clients

Altice USA, Inc.

7.

Gordon, Bruce S.

American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

National Football League

Barnes & Noble, Inc.

National Music Publishers’ Association

Bloomberg L.P.

News Corporation

Endeavor Group Holdings

Philadelphia 76ers

Genius Media Group Inc.

Tribune Media Company

Work highlights

  • Defended Altice in a lawsuit brought in Delaware Chancery Court by Cablevision’s former controlling family (the Dolans) concerning Altice’s alleged mismanagement of News 12, a “hyper-local” news network Altice acquired as part of its purchase of Cablevision in 2016, which plaintiffs claimed had not been run in accordance with a five-year business plan agreed during the acquisition process.
  • Representing Bloomberg L.P. in the Southern District of New York in connection with a multimillion dollar claim for breach of contract filed by a former media partner in Africa.
  • Defending Bruce S. Gordon, a former independent director of CBS Corporation, in a putative securities class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against CBS Corporation and current and former CBS board members and executives.
  • Represents the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and 14 independent music publishers in a copyright infringement action brought against Peloton Interactive alleging that Peloton used more than 2,300 of the publishers’ musical works in Peloton workout videos in wilful violation of the copyright laws.
  • Representing the Tribune Media Company in defense of multidistrict litigation alleging that local television station owners in the United States—including Tribune, Gray Television, Hearst Communications, Nexstar Media Group, Tegna and Sinclair Broadcast Group—engaged in a price-fixing conspiracy in the market for television advertising sales.

Williams & Connolly LLP

Washington D.C.-based firm Williams & Connolly LLP focuses primarily on defamation and first amendment work, with a client list including large newspaper publishers, television networks, and individual reporters and presenters. Practice co-chairs Kevin Baine and Thomas Hentoff are both highly experienced in first amendment litigation, while Hentoff also maintains a significant practice in the field of IP litigation. His recent work includes the representation of clients in both copyright and trademark disputes. In one of the firm's most notable recent cases, Baine led a team representing Fox News in a lawsuit brought by Joel and Mary Rich, alleging that stories broadcast by Fox about the plaintiffs' son Seth Rich caused them harm and tortiously interfered in the plaintiff's relationship with a private investigator they had hired. Stephen Fuzesi is also emerging as a notable name within the media team and works alongside Baine in several high-profile defamation cases.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Baine; Thomas Hentoff

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Fuzesi; Gerson Zweifach

Testimonials

Tom Hentoff is an exceptionally good writer who thinks deeply and creatively about the legal issues presented in a given case.

Beyond being very smart and a very strong writer, Tom Hentoff has an excellent manner with clients, both in-house lawyers and journalists who may consult with him directly. He oozes calmness and competence, which is very reassuring for both types of clients.

The litigation group at Williams & Connolly, particularly Tom Hentoff, is very strong. They are excellent brief and letter writers and have a deep background in libel and defamation law. 

Great writers, deep thinkers, hard-charging litigators.

Key clients

Home Box Office (“HBO”) and John Oliver

Washington Post

Cable News Network (CNN), Jeff Zucker, and Chris Cuomo

The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal, Fox Broadcasting Company, CBS Broadcasting

Fox News Network, LLC

Cable News Network (CNN) and Washington Post

Fox News Network, LLC

Bloomberg

University of Michigan

Forward Newspaper

Gizmodo Media Group, LLC and Univision Communications Inc.

Recording Industry Association of America

Lynn Goldsmith

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented HBO and John Oliver against a defamation suit brought by coal company Murray Energy and its CEO in West Virginia state court.
  • Defending the Washington Post in a lawsuit brought by a student at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, who alleges that the newspaper falsely implied he engaged in racist acts and instigated a confrontation with a Native American protestor in a January 2019 incident at the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Obtained two victories on behalf of Fox News and 21st Century Fox in two defamation lawsuits brought by former Fox News employees in relation to the allegations of mistreatment and sexual misconduct brought against Bill O’Reilly.
  • Represented Bloomberg in a case filed by Avery Stone in New York state court, which alleges that Bloomberg defamed him by publishing an article titled “How a Smooth Talker Convinced Bankers to Invest $32 Million, Then Vanished.”
  • Represents appellant Lynn Goldsmith, a commercial, editorial, and fine art photographer, in an appeal to the Second Circuit challenging the district court’s decision that the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. had a fair use defense to Ms. Goldsmith’s claim of copyright infringement.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

New York-based IP litigation specialist Dale Cendali heads the media litigation team at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and has a practice which is particularly focused on copyright work, in addition to a strong offering in trademark matters. The firm is often instructed on high-profile copyright infringement suits across the full media spectrum, including high-profile music, television, and publishing clients. In the video gaming space, Cendali is defending Take Two Interactive Software in several lawsuits involving the realistic depiction of tattoos in licensed sports games such as Take Two's NBA 2K product, which plaintiffs allege violates their copyrights as tattooists. In 2019 the practice saw the arrival of Allison Buchner, an IP specialist who rejoined the firm's Los Angeles office from an in-house position with Dollar Shave Club.

Practice head(s):

Dale Cendali

Other key lawyers:

Allison Buchner; Diana Torres; Claudia Ray; Joshua Simmons

Key clients

Association of American Publishers

Epic Games, Inc.

Fox News Network LLC

IBM Corporation

J.K. Rowling

Nike, Inc.

Stage Entertainment USA

Sun TV Network Limited

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represents seven members of the Association of American Publishers in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Audible, Inc., the world’s largest digital audiobook distributor, relating to Audible’s Audible Captions feature.
  • Represents playwright Terrence McNally and the producers of the hit Broadway musical Anastasia in a copyright infringement lawsuit, brought by the alleged holders of the copyrights to a non-musical theatre adaptation of the same story.
  • Represents Take-Two in a series of lawsuits involving the question of whether accurately depicting individuals with their tattoos in video games constitutes an infringement of the tattooists’ copyrights in the tattoos.
  • Represented client Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. and its affiliates, creators of the hit video game series NBA 2K, in a series of lawsuits brought by Terrence Ferguson, Anita Redd, and Alfonso Ribeiro concerning the usage of dances as in-game celebrations.
  • Successfully represented Fox News network as plaintiff in a dispute with TVEyes, a company that provides Fox News’ proprietary programming 24-hours-a-day as it is telecast and makes it available for a subscription fee, which it alleged constitutes fair use.

Proskauer Rose LLP

Proskauer Rose LLP houses a practice with a strong track record in the music industry and with a strong roster of clients on the individual and corporate sides of the market. Copyright infringement makes up the lion's share of work within the practice; the team primarily defends prominent rights-holders, often in litigation brought by smaller artists or other industry professionals, as well as disputes between record labels alleging prior licensing of particular works. The team is led by Sandra Crawshaw-Sparks, who splits her time between the firm's New York and LA offices, and focuses primarily on copyright matters, though she also represents clients in trademark and contract law disputes. In addition to Crawshaw-Sparks' bicoastal practice, the New York office also provides a full-time home to another key figure within the team: copyright litigator Alexander Kaplan.

Practice head(s):

Sandra Crawshaw-Sparks

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Kaplan; Brendan O’Rourke

Key clients

U2 and UMG Recordings

Bob Marley/Blackwell Fuller Music Publishing, LLC

Live Nation

Daft Punk

Sony Music Entertainment

Recording Academy

Heirs of the Estate of Jerry Garcia

George Balanchine Trust

National Football League

IGT/International Gaming Technology

BMG Rights Management

Blue Mountain Music

Hasbro, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represents the rock band U2 and UMG Recordings, Inc. as defendants in multiple copyright ownership and breach of contract actions involving the U2 song A Man and A Woman.
  • Represented Daft Punk in a copyright infringement and aiding-and-abetting breach of fiduciary duty case brought by singer Yasmin Mohamed, claiming that The Weeknd and Daft Punk’s 2016 song Starboy infringed her 2009 song Hooyo.
  • Defending BMG Rights Management in a lawsuit by members of the now-disbanded rock group Yellowcard for copyright infringement alleging that rapper Juice WRLD used melodic elements of the band’s 2006 hit Hollywood Died in his breakthrough single Lucid Dreams.
  • Defending Madonna and Live Nation in a class action alleging breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and deceptive and unfair trade practices related to Madonna’s Madame X Concert Tour.
  • Represented Blue Mountain Music Ltd. in a dispute over copyright and publishing rights in songs written by the artist Frederick “Toots” Hibbert.

Pryor Cashman LLP

Pryor Cashman LLP is primarily known within the media sector for its strong roster of music industry clients, which seek the firm's advice on a range of disputes including copyright infringement, rate-setting, breach of contract, and disputes with management and agencies. The New York office houses two of the firm's key music litigators in the form of Donald Zakarin and Ilene Farkas, both of whom represent high-profile artists, labels, and publishers as both plaintiffs and defendants in copyright litigation matters. The team recently saw the arrival of James Sammataro, who joined the Miami office in mid 2019 from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, and now heads up the firm's media litigation offering. He represents clients across the film, music, and television industries, covering a broad spectrum of disputes including copyright, trademark, defamation, First Amendment, rights-of-publicity and non-compete matters.

Practice head(s):

James A. Janowitz; James G. Sammataro

Other key lawyers:

Donald Zakarin; Ilene Farkas; Brad Rose

Testimonials

 

I believe James Sammataro’s strength are his litigation abilities and being very decisive and confident at all times. While always protecting us as clients, he has shown great ability to deal with the situation. Hans Hertell is also a terrific lawyer. I believe one of his biggest strengths is always being diplomatic about the situation without losing perspective of it all. Extremely self-confident as well.

Since the moment I reached out to Mr. Sammataro he has shown himself to be extremely professional.

Key clients

National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI)

Warner Music Group

Ed Sheeran and Sony/ATV Music Publishing

EMI Music Publishing Ltd

LCAR Management

EMI April Music Inc.

Extreme Music Library Ltd.

UMG Recordings Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represented the National Music Publishers’ Association, a trade association for the American music publishing industry, and Nashville Songwriters Association International, in proceedings relating to the ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board (“CRB”), to increase royalty rates by nearly 44 percent to songwriters and music publishers from interactive streaming and limited download services such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Spotify and Pandora, for the years 2018-2022.
  • Represent the authors, publishers and record labels behind Uptown Funk in multiple infringement lawsuits brought in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Representing LCAR Management, an artist management company, in connection with a lawsuit against American rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer, Travis Scott, alleging non-payment of fees, along with a countersuit alleging violations of the Talent Agencies Act.
  • Representing Extreme Music Library Ltd in an ongoing breach of contract suit brought by Twelve Sixty LLC, Aron Marderosian, and Robert Marderosian, seeking royalties and licensing fees allegedly owed under the terms of a composer agreement.
  • Representing Ed Sheeran and Sony/ATV Music Publishing in an ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit concerning Sheeran’s single, “Thinking Out Loud,” which plaintiffs claim bears a striking similarity to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP houses a large team of litigators with significant experience in the media space, providing full coverage across the spectrum of industry disputes, including defamation and first amendment matters. Notable recent highlights include the representation of Woody Allen and his production company Gravier Productions in a dispute with Amazon, following Amazon's cancellation of Allen's multi-picture deal with the company. The practice is jointly chaired by four experienced lawyers, with the IP-focused Robert Raskopf sitting in Hong Kong, Carey Ramos dividing time between the New York and Hong Kong offices and focusing on cross-border work, and the Los Angeles office playing host to Gary Gans and Jeffery McFarland, whose areas of expertise include financial disputes and business torts. Away from these more traditional media hubs, the firm can also count upon strong media sector experience in its Redwood Shores office, where Claude M. Stern often advises startup clients and video game or software businesses in relation to copyright matters.

Practice head(s):

Robert Raskopf; Carey Ramos; Gary Gans; Jeffrey McFarland

Other key lawyers:

John Quinn; Robert Schwarz; Kathleen Sullivan; Claude Stern

Testimonials

Simply the best law firm to work with because of the skill and insight of the team.

Carey Ramos is a legend in the media and entertainment business for strategy, litigation and mediation.

Key clients

Shawn Carter (Jay-Z)

Bloomberg, L.P. and Bloomberg Finance, L.P.

Mark Geragos

Alibaba Group Holding Limited

The Andy Warhol Foundation

Vimeo, Inc. (a subsidiary of IAC/InterActiveCorp)

Washington Nationals Baseball Club

United States Soccer Federation Foundation, Inc. (“U.S. Soccer Foundation”)

Horror Inc. and Manny Company

Frederick Allen and Nautilus Productions, LLC

Bank Leumi, USA

Kanye West and his personal service companies.

Vivendi S.A.

Studiocanal

Esplanade Productions, Inc.

Aperture Media Partners

Woody Allen and Gravier Productions, Inc.

Film Finances, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represent Bloomberg in an action brought by a financial news publication called The Capitol Forum in D.C. district court. The Capitol Forum alleges that when Bloomberg’s reporting on the release of The Capitol Forum newsletters constitutes “hot news” misappropriation, and both direct and contributory copyright infringement.
  • Represents lawyer and news commentator Mark Geragos in a defamation action arising from allegations that he defamed record producer Dr. Luke when Geragos allegedly posted to Twitter that Dr. Luke raped recording artist Lady Gaga.
  • Represent Horror Inc. and Manny Company in a case concerning a termination notice served by the screenwriter of Friday the 13th, alleging that the script was written while he was an independent contractor.
  • Counsel to Bank Leumi in a breach of contract and interference with contract action against Open Road Films, Global Road Entertainment, Tang Media Partners, and Miramax Distribution Services in connection with the financing for the motion picture, City of Lies, starring Johnny Depp.
  • Successfully defended Elon Musk against a claim for defamation, filed by British citizen Vernon Unsworth over comments Mr. Musk made about him in connection with a July 2018 rescue of a dozen Thai children who became lost while exploring caves.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP houses a litigation team which advises media sector clients on a wide range of cases, including profit participation, breach of contract, talent disputes, and intellectual property litigation. Marty Katz heads the team from the firm's Century City office and advises the full spectrum of entertainment industry clients in relation to a wide range of disputes, with recent instructions including bankruptcy-related cases, contract disputes, and right of publicity claims. In the music sector, recent work has primarily involved IP and royalty disputes, in which the firm acts both for platforms and distributors as well as individual artists and their estates in relation to claims by alleged rights-holders. James Curry is another key figure within the team, and is particularly focused on the film and television sector, acting for studios, broadcasters and production companies in relation to their distribution, financial, and IP disputes.

Practice head(s):

Marty Katz

Other key lawyers:

James Curry; James Gatto; Dylan Price

Key clients

Abrams Artists Agency

BBC Films

CBS

Endemol Shine

eOne Entertainment

Freemantle

Global Eagle Entertainment

MGM

Work highlights

  • Represented Qello Holdings, a company which streams live and classic concerts on its website, in a copyright dispute filed by a rights-holder who alleged that Qello did not have a license to stream the relevant concert owned by the plaintiff.
  • Represented Abrams Artists Agency in a breach of contract and tort claims resulting from Dean Panaro’s early resignation from Abrams Artists Agency to become employed at KMR.
  • Representing CBS Studios, CBS Corporation, Judge Judith Sheindlin, and Big Ticket Television, Inc. as defendants in a dispute over Judge Sheindlin’s sale of library episodes of the show Judge Judy to CBS Television Distribution, where plaintiffs alleged they were eligible for a percentage of the fee paid to Judge Sheindlin.
  • Represented MGM in a case involving a long-running profit participation claim brought by P.E.A. Films.
  • Represented Tohme R. Tohme, Michael Jackson’s business manager, in connection with a claim against Jackson’s estate.

Ballard Spahr LLP

Expansion was the watchword for the media team at Ballard Spahr LLP in 2019, with the firm massively expanding its west coast presence with the addition of the former members of Los Angeles-based media boutique Leopold, Petrich & Smith in the summer of 2019. The firm also expanded its media capabilities in the Midwest at the start of 2019, with Leita Walker joining the firm's Minneapolis office from Faegre Baker Daniels. The firm's media team focuses primarily on defamation and first amendment-related work, with a client list including several major newspapers and television networks in addition to radio broadcasters. In a recent highlight, the team defended CNN in a defamation suit arising from CNN's reporting on a viral video showing encounters between Covington Catholic school student Nick Sandmann and a Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial. Practice co-head Charles Tobin, who operates from the DC office, focuses heavily on the defamation and first amendment space as well as privacy work, while fellow co-chair David Bodney also represents clients in IP related litigation.

Practice head(s):

Charles Tobin

Other key lawyers:

David Bodney; Leita Walker; Jay Ward Brown; Seth Berlin; Michael Sullivan; Chad Bowman

Testimonials

Ballard Spahr has one of the deepest benches in media law, both in terms of partners and associates. The firm’s partnership ranks include some of the leading practitioners in the field in the United States. The firm should be on the short list for in-house counsel looking for representation in the media law field. You do not have to pay to get this firm up to speed on either the industry or the law. They know it already. They never drop a ball no matter how big or how small.

What makes this firm so good is that they have so many partners and associates who are specialists in the media law field. They are efficient, get the big picture needs of media clients and pride themselves on keeping the in-house lawyers sufficiently informed.

Chuck Tobin, Michael Sullivan, Jay Brown, Chad Bowman are some of the outstanding partners in the Washington office. David Bodney in Phoenix is the dean of the media law bar in Arizona. Mike Berry in Philadelphia is one of the best media law defense attorneys in Pennsylvania. Max Mishkin and Mara Gassmann are two DC associates who look to be future stars.

Key clients

Cable News Network, Inc.

CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Global Witness

Gray Television

Hubbard Broadcasting

National Public Radio

Netflix, Inc.

Politico

Southern Poverty Law Center

The Associated Press

The Colorado Independent

The New York Times

The Washington Post

The Weekly Standard

Univision

Work highlights

  • Defeated a defamation action brought against CBS News by a West Virginia pharmacist over an award winning series of reports on the opioid crisis
  • Representing CNN in a Freedom of Information Act suit seeking disclosure of memos documenting the interviews that the FBI conducted during Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling with the 2016 presidential election
  • Representing Netflix, Inc. in ongoing litigation in which the publisher of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series contends that Netflix’s film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch infringes on its trademark rights
  • Represent The New York Times in a defamation lawsuit brought by former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, concerning an editorial published following a June 2017 shooting that left a member of Congress injured, which included a sentence that Palin alleged suggested a link between another shooting six years earlier, and political rhetoric at that time from Palin’s political action committee
  • Defended The Weekly Standard and its former reporter Michael Warren in a $12 billion libel lawsuit brought by former Massey Energy coal magnate Donald Blankenship in West Virginia.

Katten

The media litigation team at Katten can count high-profile musical artists, large broadcasters and distributors, live events operators, and film studios among its client list, with a strong track record in IP litigation and profit participation matters. Los Angeles-based Zia Modabber heads the practice, and specializes heavily in music sector work, primarily acting for individual artists in their copyright disputes and defending royalty claims brought against artists and their estates. Another highly visible figure within the team is Joel Weiner, who is active across the spectrum of the firm's media work, having recently been instructed on defamation matters and contract disputes, as well as copyright and trademark infringement cases. Also recommended is IP litigation specialist David Halberstadter, who recently defended DreamWorks II Development Company and Storyteller Holding Co. (d/b/a Amblin Partners) in a copyright infringement suit alleging that the film The Light Between Oceans is adapted from a novel that itself infringed on a prior screenplay.

Practice head(s):

Zia Modabber

Other key lawyers:

Joel Weiner; David Halberstadter; Gloria Franke Shaw; Tami Kameda Sims

Testimonials

The depth of knowledge in the area is great. With the Katten team, as a client, I don’t feel like they have a bunch of other cases they are working on and are just trying to squeeze mine in when there is a free moment. That is, I appreciate the level of attention paid to my matter.

Joel Weiner particularly stands out as someone who really thinks through to the end of the case before just diving in

Key clients

Celine Dion

Andre 3000

NBCUniversal

Estate of Michael Jackson

Lions Gate Entertainment

Stevie Wonder

Storyteller Distribution Co., LLC d/b/a Amblin Partners

Paramount Pictures Corporation

Starz Media

Live Nation

STX Entertainment

Trent Reznor / Nine Inch Nails

Work highlights

  • Represented Amblin Partners in an arbitration before the Independent Film & Television Alliance, in which it pursued payment from international film distributor Constantin Film Verleih GMBH.
  • Won a ruling in favour of the producers of “The Wendy Williams Show,” an American daytime syndicated talk-show, regarding a defamation lawsuit filed over the rebroadcast of a celebrity Instagram video in which Sherri Shepherd, an actress and former co-host of the “The View,” alleged racial profiling at a Staples store in Hollywood
  • representing the Estate of Michael Jackson during a jury trial where Jackson’s former manager, Tohme Tohme, sued to collect tens of millions of dollars he claims he is owed for unpaid management commissions.
  • Lead counsel in defending filmmaker Robert Rodriguez in an action filed by ITN FLIX, alleging that Rodriguez’s Machete film series interfered with a contract a competing producer had signed, involving a similar movie franchise contracted to star actor Danny Trejo, the lead in the Machete movies.
  • Defending Sony Pictures Entertainment, producer/actor Will Smith, and his company Overbrook Productions in a suit alleging that a documentary entitled 12 O’Clock Boys infringes plaintiffs’ trademarks and copyrights, arising from a 2001 documentary on the same subject.

Kendall Brill & Kelly

Los Angeles-based litigation boutique Kendall Brill & Kelly houses a media practice that is particularly focused on the film and television industries, counting major studios, talent agencies, and networks among its client list. Richard Kendall heads the team, and is highly experienced across the spectrum of media law, including distribution rights, copyright, financing, and profit-participation disputes, often acting as joint co-counsel along with Philip Kelly.  The firm is  highly active across all levels of the court system, with appellate specialist Laura Brill maintaining a strong presence in the media space. In addition to  its film and television work, the firm represents individual musicians and songwriters in royalty and contract disputes,  as well as frequently representing media sector clients in civil litigation relating to fraud, embezzlement, and breaches of fiduciary duty, with the latter practice being bolstered in 2019 by the arrival of white collar specialists Janet Levine and Jeffrey Rutherford, both of whom joined from Crowell & Moring LLP  

Practice head(s):

Richard Kendall

Other key lawyers:

Philip Kelly; Laura Brill; Bert Deixler; Patrick Somers; Nicholas Daum

Testimonials

The whole team is very strong but I must call out Richard Kendall and Phil Kelly who took the lead in this case from the outset. They are very responsive and worked very well with our management team particularly in preparing them for depositions and court testimony.

 

Key clients

Viacom Media Networks

The Estate of Walter Becker of Steely Dan

The Estate of world-renowned singer Jenni Rivera

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) talent agency

Regency Entertainment and Monarch Enterprise S.A.R.L.

Olympic Champion Kerri Walsh Jennings

Paramount Pictures Corporation

Estate of Robert Philpott, the late business manager for Dick Wolf, creator of the Law and Order TV franchise

European Film Bonds, Burmester Dunkler & Jory Gmbh, and various German insurance and reinsurance companies (including Allianz)

Work highlights

  • Representing the Estate of Walter Becker, co-founder of the rock band Steely Dan, in a lawsuit brought by bandmate Donald Fagen, alleging that the estate reneged on an agreement that one member of the band would purchase all shares in the event the other departed the group.
  • Representing and counselling Creative Artists Agency in litigation brought by the Writer’s Guild of America, alleging violations of federal and state antitrust laws, violations of the federal civil RICO statute, breaches of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, and violations of the Unfair Competition Law related to the use of agency packaging fees.
  • Representing Regency Entertainment Inc. and Monarch Enterprises S.A.R.L. in an $18 million breach of contract lawsuit they filed in December 2017 over Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply box-office flop, alleging that some of the film’s backers had withheld repayment of expenses the companies were unable to recoup from the film’s proceeds.
  • Represents European Film Bonds and a group of German insurance and reinsurance companies (including Allianz) in a dispute involving the completion and delivery of a film entitled Starbright.
  • Successfully defended Paramount Pictures Corporation in a $40 million lawsuit filed by Middle Pictures, Inc., alleging that Paramount intentionally destroyed deflated the value of the film Middle Men, which was produced by Middle Pictures and distributed by Paramount, by initially releasing it in only six cities.

Loeb & Loeb LLP

Loeb & Loeb LLP's bicoastal media litigation team represents a wide range of clients on all sides of the media industry, receiving instructions from high-profile talent, particularly in the music industry, along with large publishers, labels, film studios, distributors and networks, and financial companies investing in the media space. Intellectual property litigator Barry Slotnick chairs the practice from New York, while Los Angeles-based David Grossman, deputy chair of the firm's overall litigation practice, is the face of the media litigation team on the west coast. In addition to the IP litigation practice, which covers copyright infringement, trademark disputes, and idea submission, the firm handles a broad range of commercial disputes for media clients including contract disputes and tort cases, profit participation, and distribution disputes. Recent notable highlights include the representation of event producer Suprefly Presents in a dispute with Woodstock 50 over the cancellation of the event, which Superfly had been contracted to produce.

Practice head(s):

Barry Slotnick; David Grossman

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Zavin; Wook Hwang; Tal Dickstein; Barry Mallen

Key clients

Superfly Presents

Netflix

Fox Searchlight, Guillermo del Toro

Lindsey Buckingham

Legendary, Universal and Paramount Pictures

Richard “Don” Barnes

Morgan Creek Entertainment Group/Lionsgate

Union Patriot Capital Management, Inc.

Charter Communications

Marshall Broadcasting Group

CBS

Rudinplay, Inc.

Ryan Lewis, Ben Haggerty p/k/a Macklemore

Warner/Chappell Music Publishing, SonyATV Music Publishing, PeerMusic, Spirit Music Group, Concord Music Publishing, ABKCO Music

NBC Universal, Ryan Seacrest Productions and Truly Original

Estate of Ben E. King

Viacom International and Penguin Random House

Viacom International and Big Fish Entertainment

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Showtime and Warner Brothers

Juan Luis Guerra

Peermusic

Estate of B.B. King and Universal Music Group

Sony Pictures

AwesomenessTV

Spirit Two Music

Reservoir

Work highlights

  • Representing Fox Searchlight, director Guillermo del Toro and other defendants in a copyright infringement case in which the plaintiff claimed that the film “The Shape of Water” infringes on a play written in 1969 by Paul Zindel.
  • Representing a group of 6 music publishers in a copyright infringement action against the owners and operators of the website Wolfgangs.com, which owns the archives of promoter Bill Graham and has made them available for streaming, allegedly infringing on the publishers’ copyrights.
  • Represented defendants Morgan Creek and Lionsgate, creators of the Tupac Shakur biopic “All Eyez on Me,” in connection with a lawsuit brought by Joseph Karmo, who alleged that the film infringed a screenplay that he had created about the rapper’s life.
  • Represented Peermusic, the world’s largest independent music publisher, in a copyright infringement action in Puerto Rico federal court regarding the rights to a popular Latin Christmas song.
  • Representing Viacom International in two separate disputes over music royalties relating to Viacom’s exploitation of production library music on various reality television shows airing on MTV and other Viacom networks