Media and entertainment: litigation in United States

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP's media and entertainment litigation practice boasts an impressive breadth of experience ranging from handling contractual disputes and intellectual property issues to first amendment litigation and employment matters. The group is jointly led by Scott A. Edelman in Los Angeles and New York-based Orin Snyder who continue to defend AMC in profit participation cases. In another work highlight, a team led by Snyder is representing Facebook in all civil litigation arising out of reports of the alleged misuse of user data by Cambridge Analytica and related parties; this includes a securities class action, several shareholder derivative matters and consumer privacy actions. Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. is another key name to note in the Los Angeles office; he is representing Ashley Judd in defamation, sexual harassment and unfair competition claims against Harvey Weinstein, and is voluntarily acting for journalist Aaron Cantu following his arrest while covering the demonstrations at the 2017 presidential inauguration.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

The Century City-based litigation practice at O'Melveny & Myers LLP counts Global Music Rights, Lionsgate and Warner Bros among its clients. Practice head Daniel Petrocelli led the defense of AT&T and Time Warner against allegations brought by the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division that the companies' $85.4bn merger would harm competition. In the music industry, the group successfully represented Sirius XM Radio before the Florida Supreme Court, which confirmed that pre-1972 recording owners cannot demand royalties for performance of their recordings during radio broadcast. The team is also acting for The Walt Disney Company in several matters including in copyright litigation relating to The Last Days of Michael Jackson, and a dispute over the accounting of net profits concerning the 1989 movie Turner & Hooch. Another client is Kesha in ongoing defamation claims against her longtime producer Lukasz Gottwald. Other key names to note include Molly Lens — who advised Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation on several intellectual property and employment disputes —, Drew Breuder and recently promoted partner Amy Lucas.

Latham & Watkins LLP

Marvin S. Putnam leads Latham & Watkins LLP's entertainment, sports and media litigation offering based in Century City. He and recently promoted partner Laura Washington are handling a range of matters stemming from Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct, including representing Miramax in several related class actions and defending ex-independent director of The Weinstein Company Holdings, Tim Sarnoff, in both the aforementioned class actions and several additional claims. Other clients include Ticketmaster, author Michael Pollan and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); the team is advising the latter in a defamation dispute brought against President Donald Trump, including on media coverage and public interest issues relating to subpoenas for unaired The Apprentice footage, as well as assisting with internal investigations into allegations of misconduct on certain reality TV shows. Alongside Putnam, Jessica Stebbins Bina jointly leads a team including associate Robert Ellison, in the representation of MGM.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP's New York-based cross-departmental media and entertainment litigation practice group is jointly led by Bruce Rich and Benjamin Marks, who alongside Todd Larson successfully represented Pandora Media before the Court of Appeal for the D.C. Circuit, which upheld the favorable royalty rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board. Key matters in the television space include Yehudah Buchweitz's representation of Showtime Networks in a series of putative class actions relating to allegations of issues in connection with viewing the pay-per-view boxing match between boxing legend Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, and the team's representation of A&E Television Networks in a dispute with The Weinstein Company (TWC) concerning A&E’s termination of certain agreements it had with TWC, including those relating to the TV series Project Runway and dozens of movies. The group is also acting for Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, the Association of American Publishers and SAGE Publications in a copyright infringement dispute with Georgia State University regarding the parameters of the fair use doctrine in the academic setting. Sirius XM Radio, Facebook and Getty Images are also clients; a team successfully defended the latter in a copyright infringement action brought by Zuma Press.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

The New York-based litigation team at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP acts for media and entertainment sector clients such as HBO, Hearst Communications and Time Warner; it recently advised the latter on antitrust issues in connection with its $109 billion sale to AT&T in a matter led by a team including Peter Barbur. In another work highlight, the group is representing ABC and ESPN as intervenors in the high-profile NCAA grant-in-aid cap antitrust litigation, in which the broadcasters are opposing the release of confidential broadcast, media and sponsorship agreements. Karin DeMasi and Evan Chesler are acting for The Weinstein Company in a books and records demand suit brought by Harvey Weinstein; the team also represented the client in a breach of contract lawsuit at the New York Supreme Court brought by Speedee Distribution. The practice frequently handles employment and intellectual property litigation and benefits from the addition of Hon. Katherine Forrest from her role as a district judge for the Southern District of New York. J Wesley Earnhardt is another key name to note.

Jenner & Block LLP

The content, media and entertainment practice at Jenner & Block LLP led by New York-based Andrew Bart boasts impressive litigation capabilities, particularly in intellectual property disputes. Recent work highlights include Bart's successful representation of EMI and EMI Music Publishing in a long-running copyright infringement claim against MP3tunes for the distribution of EMI’s copyrighted works without permission, and the defense of FanDuel, led by a team around Washington DC-based Kenneth Doroshow, in a class action relating to the use of athletes' names and game performance data to determine the outcomes of their fantasy sports contests. David Singer is a name to note for motion picture and television sector matters; he and antitrust and competition expert Richard Stone (both based in Los Angeles) successfully defended Twentieth Century Fox and other parties in a copyright infringement claim alleging that the movie Gone Girl infringed the plaintiff’s screenplay Out of the Blue. The group, which also includes Susan Kohlmann and Alison Stein in New York and Washington DC-based Steven Englund, counts Jay Z, The Walt Disney Company and Nintendo of America among its clients. Changes to the team include the departures of Jared Freedman and Daniel Rozansky to an in-house role at Recording Industry Association of America and Stubbs Alderton Markiles LLP respectively.

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Clients consider the entertainment, sports and media litigation practice at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP particularly 'wise about the peculiarities of the entertainment industry'. The 'results-driven' John Gatti, based in Los Angeles, attracts praise for his 'powerful knowledge' and jointly heads the team alongside 'consummate and pragmatic professional' Robert Jacobs in New York. In a current work highlight, Jacobs is defending Kendrick Lamar, UMG Recordings, SZA andTop Dawg Entertainment, among others, in litigation brought by painter Lina Iris Viktor alleging use of her art work without permission in Kendrick Lamar’s music video for All the Stars. The group is also acting for Tracy Chapman in a copyright infringement claim against Nikki Minaj. In the television space, Gatti is representing CBS Broadcasting in a contractual dispute regarding the distribution of the television series Walker, Texas Ranger for allegedly failing to account for subscription video-on-demand and streaming revenue. Based in New York, Prana Topper is another key name to note, particularly in the music industry. The department also benefits from 'knowledgeable' associates which 'make meaningful contributions', including Maura Gierl and Katrina Dela Cruz, both in Los Angeles.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

The New York-based media and entertainment practice group at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP has particular experience handling breach of contract, antitrust, employment and intellectual property litigation for clients such as American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers, Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal. Recent work highlights include Jay Cohen's representation of Altice in litigation brought by Cablevision’s former controlling family and a Cablevision employee, alleging that Altice breached commitments it made when it acquired Cablevision (relating to the management of the staff and business of a local news program). The group is also acting for Tribune Media Company in several antitrust class actions alleging a price-fixing conspiracy in the market for television advertising sales. Lynn B. Bayard, who heads the team alongside Cohen, and Jonathan S. Kanter are other key names to note, particularly for intellectual property and antitrust matters respectively.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP's Century City-based media and entertainment sector group frequently handles a range of litigation including contractual, copyright and defamation disputes. Practice head Martin Katz is a key name to note, particularly for motion picture and television distribution rights, and James Curry has significant experience representing broadcast television networks . In a current work highlight, New York-based intellectual property expert Ted Max is acting for The Players Tribune in cross-border trade mark litigation in Australia against Sports Pty.


Natalie Spears heads the 'creative, cost-effective and efficient' Chicago-based technology media and telecommunications sector team at Dentons which counts MGM Studios and Yahoo! among its clients. The group is made up of 'strong advocates' and has particular experience handling consumer privacy class actions; it recently advised Condé Nast, Dow Jones and Trusted Media Brands on separate matters all relating to allegations of unsolicited junk mail and promotional phone calls. The practice also successfully represented Chicago Tribune before the Illinois Supreme Court in reversing a trial judge's order for all filings in the high-profile murder trial of former police officer Jason Van Dyke to be sealed. Samuel Fifer is another key name to note; he is acting for Drucker 1996 Literary Trust in intellectual property enforcement matters.

Irell & Manella LLP

The media and entertainment group at Irell & Manella LLP frequently handles a range of intellectual property, defamation, privacy and contractual matters both in litigation and arbitration. The Los Angeles-based practice, led by Steven Marenberg, counts major studios and talent agencies including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, United Talent Agency and Warner Bros Entertainment among its clients; the team represented the latter in a class action relating to the method in which Warner Bros (and other studios) accounted for home video royalties to profit participants over the course of several decades. Other recent work includes the defense of William Morris Endeavor in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the actor Terry Crews against the talent agency and its agent Adam Venit, and Victor Jih's representation of Hulu in litigation brought by the City of Creve Coeur against Hulu and Netflix relating to state taxation of online video streaming. Robert Schwartz joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.

Williams & Connolly LLP

Williams & Connolly LLP's media and entertainment practice, co-headed by Thomas Hentoff and Kevin Baine, stands out for its capabilities in defamation and first amendment litigation. In recent highlights Baine led a team which successfully defended HBO and comedian John Oliver in a defamation suit brought by Murray Energy; Hentoff represented Warner Brothers Entertainment in a copyright infringement dispute, which confirmed that a foreign broadcaster that uploads copyright content to its website and makes it available in the US is in violation of the Copyright Act. The team is also acting for Bloomberg in litigation brought by Avery Stone alleging an article published about him and the failure of his Hong Kong business was defamatory. Other key names to note include Deneen Howell and Carl Metz for employment and antitrust matters respectively. All lawyers are based in Washington DC.


The 'very experienced and knowledgeable' media and entertainment litigation team at Katten 'takes pride in its work', such as recently successfully defending STX Entertainment in litigation brought by Sesame Workshop over the use of the tagline 'No Sesame. All Street.' in its promotional materials for the R-rated movie, The Happytime Murders. Zia Modabber is acting for The Estate of Michael Jackson in a putative class action alleging Michael Jackson was not the actual vocalist on three tracks from his first posthumous album. David Halberstadter, the 'patient and thorough' Joel Weiner and Gloria Franke Shaw, who attracts praise for 'exceptional litigation for copyright infringement cases', are key names to note. Shaw recently acted for Barstool Sports, a satirical sports and men’s lifestyle blog, in a defamation and false light claim brought by rap and hip-hop artist Andre Roxx after he was mistakenly identified in a news story. All attorneys mentioned are based in Los Angeles.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Kirkland & Ellis LLP's copyright, trademark, internet and advertising team, based in New York, frequently handles litigation for clients in the media and entertainment sector. Intellectual property litigation expert Dale Cendali is a key contact; she and Joshua Simmons recently led the successful representation of Take-Two Interactive Software in obtaining an injunction against the defendant who created software programs allowing players to create unauthorised features in Take-Two’s online video game Grand Theft Auto. In addition to the gaming industry, the group's experience spans across the music, theatre, film and television sectors; recent matters have included defending Sun TV Network in copyright litigation brought by Freeplay Music and advising Stage Entertainment in copyright infringement relating to the hit Broadway musical Anastasia. Claudia Ray and Johanna Schmitt are noted for their expertise.

Proskauer Rose LLP

The New York-based interdisciplinary media and entertainment litigation practice at Proskauer Rose LLP is particularly active in the music sector with clients including Lady Gaga, U2, Island Records, Ariana Grande and Universal Music Group. Practice head Sandra Crawshaw-Sparks and Alexander Kaplan represented Madonna, Warner Bros Records and WB Music Publishing in a copyright infringement claim brought by Pettibone. The team is also acting for Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in breach of contract, tortious interference with contract and unfair competition claims brought against United Talent Agency (UTA) and a group of defecting CAA talent agents; this matter includes arbitration proceedings against three former CAA agents, with related litigation against UTA and other CAA agents pending the outcome of arbitration. The practice also counts the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Elsevier and Blackwell Fuller Music Publishing among its clients.

Pryor Cashman LLP

Pryor Cashman LLP's media and entertainment group is noted for its impressive music sector expertise. Acting for National Music Publishers’ Association and Nashville Songwriters Association International against streaming services Spotify, Amazon, Apple, Google and Pandora, the group achieved a decision from the Copyright Royalty Board for a substantial royalty rate increase. Donald Zakarin and Ilene Farkas are defending Ed Sheeran in a copyright claim alleging that his song Thinking Out Loud infringes Marvin Gaye's Let’s Get It On, and another work highlight is the representation of EMI Music Publishing in litigation brought by various entities affiliated with Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio of the Four Seasons, which sought the termination a long-standing agreement with EMI UK. James Janowitz heads the practice which also includes head of intellectual property Brad Rose and Frank Scibilia. All mentioned attorneys are based in New York.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

Litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP counts a host of media and entertainment sector clients, such as Vimeo and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, among its impressive client roster and attracts praise for its 'combination of quality paperwork, personal style, strategic thinking, and cost-effective management of a litigation team'. The practice successfully represented Tsuburaya Productions Company in a dispute regarding the ownership of rights in Tsuburaya’s iconic 'Ultraman' superhero character. 'Brilliant strategist' Gary Gans and Jeffery McFarland are acting for Esplanade Productions in a copyright infringement, breach of implied contract, breach of confidence, and unfair competition claim against The Walt Disney Company relating to the film Zootopia. Washington DC-based William Burck and Robert Raskopf in New York are representing MLB players Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Howard in defamation claims against Al Jazeera America relating to allegations of banned steroid use made in the documentary The Dark Side broadcast by the network . Managing partner John Quinn and Robert Schwartz, who recently joined the team from Irell & Manella LLP, are also key names to note. All mentioned lawyers are based in Los Angeles except where otherwise specified.