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The role of an entertainment Solicitor

Deborah Pegg, Solicitor of Astle Paterson’s Media, Entertainment, TV and Film department discusses her role as an entertainment Solicitor at Astle Paterson.

Deborah said “Entertainment Law is a very specialist area and it is essential to obtain the expert advice and support of an entertainment lawyer from the beginning.

Under UK law, copyright exists without the need for registration, so once you have written even a treatment you will automatically have it.  If you ask someone else to write a screenplay based on your treatment, you will need a writer’s agreement to ensure the rights are assigned to you.  If someone comes to you to produce a script they have written, you will need an Option to acquire the right to do so.

These ‘rights’ agreements are key to establishing your ownership of the right to develop, produce and, more importantly, commercially exploit, a project.  It is vital that you do this at an early stage to ensure there are no disagreements as to who owns what and how much you’ve agreed to pay for it.

With re-writes, credit, profit participation etc., the rights agreements can often be the most complex agreements to prepare and an experienced entertainment lawyer can be invaluable to ensure that your Chain of Title has no defects in it and the foundations of your project are solid.”

Deborah continued “I can assist you throughout the duration of your production, from drafting and negotiating finance agreements and sales agency agreements to negotiating with agents on key talent agreements or simply preparing a basic set of template agreements that you can roll out to all the cast and crew.

By getting to know you and your project I am able to tailor my assistance to your specific requirements, anticipating what you might need and who else you might need to speak to.  For example, you may also need location agreements, music licences, releases, distribution agreements and collection agreements.

Navigating your way through all of these things can be something of a minefield, particularly when all you really want to be concentrating on is bringing your script to life.”

Deborah concluded “An experienced entertainment lawyer will help you avoid the pitfalls and in an industry where ‘who you know’ can be as important as ‘what you know’, a well-connected and practised lawyer is a potential goldmine.”

Deborah Pegg is an entertainment lawyer at Astle Paterson Solicitors and can be contacted at dpegg@astlepaterson.co.uk or on 01283 531366.

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