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Thr 313 Entertainment Law


COURSE NUMBER: Theatre 313/RTF 313


“Law is reason, free from passion.”    Aristotle

Text:         Assigned Readings on D2L
Semester:    Fall 2015 – Winter Interim – January 2016
Instructor:      John Zarbano BA MA JD
Office:    AC W 102 – Office Hours: By Appointment
Contact:     email:
Telephone: (920) 424 – 4417 (box office)

Course Description:
“It is the trade of lawyers to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour.”
Thomas Jefferson

This course provides a broad overview of law relating to the entertainment industries.  This course examines basic legal principles inherent in radio, television, motion pictures, theatre, and music publishing and sound recording, such as: First Amendment right of free speech, defamation, obscenity, and the penumbral rights of privacy and publicity; federal regulation of copyrights, and the transfer of such intellectual property rights; and federal regulation of radio and television.

Course Learning Objectives:
“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”     Socrates

  • Using US Supreme Court decisions, students will construct legal opinions applying the First Amendment to hypothetical fact situations concerning: 1) Right to Privacy, 2) Right to Publicity, 3) Defamation, 4) Obscenity, and/or 5) Film Violence.

  • Using the appropriate forms from the United States Copyright Office website, students will prepare mock copyright registrations on original works of their choice.

  • Students will evaluate the relationship between entertainment industries and intellectual property

  • Students will negotiate mock contracts concerning agency representation and the acquisition of intellectual property rights,

Course General Rules:

“Both,” Garp wrote, “were of the opinion that the practice of law was vulgar, but the study of it was sublime.” John Irving

All students are on their honor to complete their own course work.  Acts of plagiarism, cheating, deception, and other acts of academic dishonesty are unacceptable and will be the basis for academic discipline.  All students will strictly adhere to the time limits placed on course assignments.

This course promotes the development of analytical thinking through the use of language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. All students shall use Standard American English in their writings. Slang, colloquialisms, and ellipses often fail to communicate.

Classroom Decorum:

General Rule: Do nothing that might disrupt class or distract your fellow students.

In all discussions, students shall be polite and courteous towards each other.  Each student shall be respectful of another student’s opinion and shall respond only to the student’s stated contentions.  Ad hominem attacks are unprofessional and unacceptable.

In-Class Use of Digital Devices:

In–class use of digital devices without audio is permissible; however such use must be limited to the course materials and discussions. Assigned course materials are available on D2L. In–class access to course materials is recommended, either by bringing printed copies to class or by accessing electronically in the classroom. I repeat: Do nothing that might disrupt class or distract your fellow students.


Academic dishonesty and/or inappropriate classroom behavior, including disruptive in–class use of digital devices, shall be the basis for academic discipline. Administered with or without warning, penalties may include a loss of course points, a drop in the student’s letter grade for the course, and/or expulsion from the classroom. Penalties may be cumulative. The instructor shall be the sole arbiter of what constitutes academic dishonesty and/or inappropriate classroom behavior.

Not a Contract:

This course does not provide legal advice or legal training. This syllabus is prepared for informational purposes only. None of the statements, objectives, schedules, assignments, or rules contained in this syllabus constitutes a contract, express or implied.  This syllabus may be modified, at the sole discretion of the instructor, at any time, with or without notice.


Course Schedule

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Woody Allen

Week 1 (January 4 – January 8)

Introduction to Intellectual Property as applied to the Core Copyright Industries. Introduction to the United States Constitution.

Personality Rights:

Right to Privacy and Right to Publicity: Restatement (Second) of Torts §§ 652A-E (1997) Bogie v. Rosenberg (Joan Rivers Case) Midler v. Ford Motor Company (Bette Midler case): Waits v. Frito-Lay (Tom Waits case): Greene v CMG Worldwide and Shaw v. CMG Worldwide (Marilyn Monroe cases); and Lugosi v. Universal Pictures (Bela Lugosi case).

First Amendment Content Issues and the Entertainment Industries:

Defamation: Restatement (Second) of Torts §558 (Defamation), New York Times v Sullivan and its progeny Violence: Byers v. Edmondson (Oliver Stone case) and McCollum v CBS, Inc. (Ozzy Osbourne case); Obscenity – Miller v. California and its progeny


Fundamentals of Contract law, including option contracts, California statutes regarding talent contracts, and business tort of interference with contractual relations


Week 2 (January 11 – January 15)

Contracts Continued: Review of a Talent Agency Contract California DLSE form; the “Big Four” Talent Agencies: (Creative Artists Agency, Inc., Williams Morris Endeavor, International Creative Management, Inc., and United Talent Agency).  Review Small Agency contract – PPI Review MTV Appearance Release and MTV Material Release and Geisel v. Poytner Products (Dr. Seuss case).

Copyright: Lecture and discussion on statutory Section 106 copyright exclusive rights, registration, duration, work-for-hire, fair use, and ownership/transfer of copyrights. Fair Use cases include: Brownmark Films, LLC v. Comedy Partners (South Park Case); Burnett v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. (Carol Burnett Case); Cariou v. Prince (Copyrighted Photographs Case); Gaylord v. United States (Korean War Memorial Stamp Case); Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises (Gerald Ford Memoirs Case); Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and J.K. Rowling v. RDR Books (Harry Potter Case). Also, the topics of: idea versus expression, idea submission, and negotiated acquisition.


Week 3 (January 19 – January 22)

Television & Radio: Lecture and discussion on FCC Licensing, the Communications Act of 1934, Distribution Regulation, and Program Regulation.  Lecture and discussion on FCC regulation of content including FCC v Fox Television Stations (US Supreme Court June 2012) “Fleeting Expletive Case” and CBS v FCC (Third Circuit Case and US Supreme Court June 2012) “Wardrobe Malfunction Case”

Music Publish and Sound Recordings: Lecture and discussion on topics of Music Publishing and Sound Recordings: principal types of agreements, including songwriter, administration, collection, option contract, and management agreements; business relationships including agents, accountants, and business managers. Fair use case of Bourne Co. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. (When You Wish Upon A Star Case); Also, topics of performing rights, specific copyright applications for musicians, and record industry contacts.  Review business tort of interference with contractual relations from Contracts.

Film: Lecture and discussion on film topics of: acquisition of property rights for motion pictures, producing films through the studio model and the independent model, and distribution of films.  Financing of films through the negative pick-up deal and pre-sales agreement

Theatre: Lecture and discussion on Theatre topics concerning the National Labor Relations Act, collective bargaining agreements, Actors Equity and Equity contracts, production contracts and copyright considerations regarding public performance, reproduction, adaptation, and royalties; Wasserman v. Leigh and Darion, (Man of La Mancha case).


Course Requirements:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” Heraclitus

Qualitative Grading Rubric:

Students shall use Standard American English in their writings, including correct grammar and correct spelling. It is required that your writings are concise, organized, and thoughtful.  Qualitative Grading shall be based upon: 1) following instructions, 2) timeliness, 3) analysis of the topic using relevant course materials, 4) non-repetitive nature of comments, and 5) completeness.

Quantitative Grading Rubric:

Students are assessed quantitatively are assessed on the following course requirements:

1.    Classroom Participation – Daily Oral Quizzes: 180 points

This course has fourteen class sessions; prompt attendance and prepared attendance are required. An oral quiz will be administered during each class period, with the exception of test dates. Each oral quiz carries a point value of 15 points for a total of 180 points. Your attendance earns 5 of the 15 points possible and appropriate answers to questions will earn the remaining 10 points. The 5 attendance points will not be earned if you are late to class by 15 minutes or more.

We shall very loosely use the IRAC (“Issue Rule Application Conclusion”) method. Please keep in mind that, despite the fact that class participation is graded, you should not worry unduly about the quality of your responses. As long as you do the reading and give it your honest effort, you will earn points. I am looking for thoughtful responses. This course is a place to learn, to fumble and to make mistakes. Historical mistakes of SCOTUS include: Dred Scott vs. Sanford, Plessy vs. Ferguson, Buck vs. Bell, and Korematsu vs. US. Fear not and engage in the conversation.

2.    One Written exercise, due on Friday, January 15, relating to First Amendment Content Issues and the Entertainment Industries carries a point value of 20 points.

3.    Written Tests: 300 points

Two tests (Wednesday, January 13, and Friday, January 22) carry a point value of 150 points each for a total of 300 points.

The grading scale is based on 500 points. The “percentage of points” translates to letter grades as follows:

Letter Grade




100 – 93

500 – 465


92.9 – 90

464 – 450


89.9 – 87

449 – 435


86.9 – 83

434 – 415


82.9 – 80

414 – 400


79.9 – 77

399 – 385


76.9 – 73

384 – 365


72.9 – 70

364 – 350


69.9 – 67

349 – 335


66.9 – 63

334 – 515


62.9 – 60

314 – 300


Less than 60

Less than 300


The grading scale is based on 450 points. The “percentage of points” translates to letter grades as follows:

by Alderson, James M last modified Dec 31, 2015 10:33 PM