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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 2013 – Winter Interim – January 2014

Instructor: Bryan Vandevender BA MA PhD
Office: ACW 120 – Office Hours: By Appointment
Contact: email: telephone number: (920) 424-1729

Instructor: John Zarbano BA MA JD
Contact: email:

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

Entertainment Law 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:

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

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.


All students are placed on their honor to complete their own course work. Acts of plagiarism, cheating, and deception are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. All students will strictly adhere to the time limits placed on course assignments.


All students shall use Standard American English in all of their writings. Slang, colloquialisms, and ellipses often fail to communicate. 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.


Course Schedule

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

Week 1 (January 6 – January 10)

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


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 13 – January 17)

Contracts Continued: Review of a Talent Contract from one of the “Big Three” (International Creative Management, Inc., Creative Artists Agency, Inc., and Williams Morris Agency). Review Small Agency contract – PPI Review MTV Appearance Release and MTV Material Release and Geisel v. Poytner Products (Dr. Seuss case).


Copyright: Readings and discussion on statutory issues on copyright exclusive rights, registration, duration, work-for-hire, fair use, and ownership/transfer of copyrights. Also, the topics of: idea versus expression, idea submission, and negotiated acquisition.


Week 3 (January 21 – January 24)

Television & Radio: Readings and discussion on Federal Communications Commission, the Communications Act of 1934, Distribution Regulation, Program Regulation, and television contracts. Also, readings 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: Readings 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. 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: Readings 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: Readings 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.”


Student assessment is based upon the following course requirements.


1. Daily Oral Quizzes: 130 points

Since fourteen class sessions comprise this interim course (each session equals one week), prompt attendance and prepared attendance are required. After the first class, an oral quiz will be administered during each subsequent class period. Each oral quiz carries a point value of 10 points for a total of 130 points. Your attendance will earn 5 of the 10 points possible and appropriate answers to questions will earn the remaining 5 points. The 5 attendance points will not be earned if you are late to class by 15 minutes or more.


2. One Written exercise, due on Friday, January 10, 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 15, and Friday, January 24) carry a point value of 150 points each for a total of 300 points.


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


Letter Grade




100 – 93

450 – 418


92.9 – 90

417 – 405


89.9 – 87

404 – 391


86.9 – 83

390 – 373


82.9 – 80

372 – 360


79.9 – 77

359 – 346


76.9 – 73

345 – 332


72.9 – 70

331 – 315


69.9 – 67

314 – 301


66.9 – 63

300 – 283


62.9 – 60

282 – 270


Less than 60

Less than 270

by Alderson, James M last modified Dec 30, 2013 10:41 AM