Entertainment Law

  • Holland & Knight’s Entertainment Law Team represents entertainment, media and advertising clients and other content providers who produce, license, acquire, use and invest in film, television, music and digital content for worldwide distribution. Our team also represents celebrities and entertainers in connection with a wide variety of legal matters, including endorsement and sponsorship deals. We help clients solve problems to minimize the risk of costly litigation and to offer solutions arising from newly created technologies.
  • We regularly assist with financing, copyright, trademark, union, regulatory and deal-structuring issues associated with production and distribution in a range of media and formats.
  • Our team is experienced in assisting clients with infringement, publicity, licensing or financing disputes and the use of unlicensed likeness or content appearing on the Internet, or in other mediums.
  • Lawyers in our international Entertainment Law practice have extensive experience relating to Spanish-language programming and film intended for distribution in the United States and Latin American markets.

Entertainment, media and advertising companies require lawyers who quickly and effectively assist with issues that are international in scope and multidisciplinary in nature. Intellectual property, publicity rights, transactional media and digital technology are at the core of our Entertainment Law practice, however, as an international full-service firm, we can provide comprehensive guidance with issues ranging from equity financing to immigration, from tax credits to crowdfunding, and from social media to data privacy. We routinely work with entertainment clients in the following areas:

  • copyright, trademark and publicity rights
  • intellectual property acquisition, licensing, vetting and distribution
  • protection and prosecution of intellectual property rights, including infringement disputes and application of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to protect against unlicensed use or distribution
  • digital rights and data privacy
  • audio and visual productions
  • music licensing and resolution of music publishing disputes
  • artist concerts and touring
  • merchandising and other ancillary revenue opportunities
  • artist management
  • film and television agreements from development through distribution 
  • live and television performances
  • authors and print media publishers
  • advertising, sweepstakes law and regulation
  • financing and private equity investments
  • artist and union agreements
  • athlete and celebrity appearances, endorsement and service agreements
  • museums, dance and live theater

Digital Media and the Internet

We have a deep understanding of the development, production and distribution of digital media. Our team has extensive experience handling industry-specific issues such as content production, rights acquisition and licensing; analyzing defamation, privacy, copyright and trademark issues; and preparing all forms of agreement required for worldwide digital distribution and licensing of digital media content.

In addition to development of online privacy and social media policies, we advise clients regarding libel, publicity, privacy, employee and independent contractor issues. We are involved with online copyright litigation, as well as investigating and prosecuting online intellectual property issues.

Bilingual Representations

The many bilingual attorneys on our Entertainment Law Team serve both U.S. and Latin American enterprises. Our clients include major Spanish-language production companies and networks. We can provide professional translation to Spanish or English of legal documents, including privacy policies.

Involvement in Community and Entertainment Organizations

In keeping with Holland & Knight's tradition of community involvement, our entertainment attorneys take leadership roles in professional, educational and charitable organizations that support entertainment and the creative arts. Our lawyers serve as members of local chapters of the National and Latin Academies of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS and LARAS) and actively participate in leadership roles in the local activities of both of these national organizations. We are also active in promoting the development of film and television projects to help the local and regional areas where our offices are located.

Experienced Lawyers on Your Side

Members of our Entertainment Law Team are industry leaders who write books and articles and organize seminars on entertainment law issues. In addition, we participate in film festival panels, speak at law schools, and serve as adjunct law professors teaching intellectual property and entertainment law courses. Lawyers on our team are recognized as national and regional leaders and have been selected for inclusion in leading industry publications. The 2016 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" guide placed our Entertainment Law - Motion Picture and Television practice in its first tier both nationally and locally (Chicago). The 2015 Chambers USA - America's Leading Lawyers for Business guide recognized Robert Labate with a number one ranking in Illinois: Media and Entertainment. The Best Lawyers in America honored Robert Labate and Jorge Hernandez-Toraño in Entertainment Law - Motion Pictures & Television in its 2015 guide, with Mr. Hernandez-Toraño additionally recognized in the Entertainment Law - Music practice area. In fall 2015, Lawyers for the Creative Arts will publish a 200+ page book titled Dangerous Lenses: Surviving the Perils of Film Law written by a member of the Entertainment Law Team.

Recent Representations


  • Serving as production counsel for 13-episode Spanish language musical talent competition television series broadcast on the NBC Telemundo Network in fall 2014
  • Serving as production counsel for a two-hour Christmas special broadcast on the NBC Telemundo Network
  • Providing ongoing clearance and rights acquisition counsel for a daily entertainment show broadcast on the NBC Telemundo Network
  • Providing counsel for a Spanish language network in connection with a music rights dispute with the producer and owner of an international talent competition
  • Represented the host of a popular gardening show on national cable network and successfully defending the host in litigation with a former agent
  • Serving as production counsel for a six-episode documentary television series currently in production for a network television broadcast premiere in 2015
  • Serving as production counsel for a documentary film, initially broadcast on the Fox Network, about a series of concerts on seven continents by one of the world's top recording artists


  • Negotiated and prepared licensing and production agreements with an international advertising agency in connection with the re-launch of a national brand
  • Negotiated and prepared joint venture agreements between content-providers and international advertising agencies
  • Served as counsel for a national hardware company in connection with endorsement and advertising agreements and production of television commercials featuring a top-ranked member of the PGA Tour
  • Negotiated and prepared an agreement with a major studio for an airline client’s advertising and promotion campaign in connection with the release of a major action film in 2016 that includes television, print, outdoor, digital media, themed in-flight experience, loyalty program, sweepstakes, online and social media promotions
  • Negotiated and prepared talent service agreements with lead actors for an international television advertising, social media and promotional campaign client in connection with a major studio live-action film and with the production of television commercials featuring lead actors from the film
  • Negotiated and prepared production agreements and product integration agreements for a product to be advertised on The Ellen DeGeneres Show
  • Negotiated and prepared celebrity promotional agreements for the national launch of an advertising campaign for a consumer premier air-purifier product


  • Providing ongoing representation of one of the world's largest production music companies in connection with a variety of licensing and production issues
  • Representing clients in connection with the purchase and sale of music libraries and music catalogues
  • Responsible for the rights clearance and delivery of a music video produced in connection with a #1 selling album released in November 2012
  • Representation of internationally acclaimed and Grammy® Award-winning recording artists and music producers in a range of music licensing, recording and production agreements
  • Representing the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences® as general outside counsel
  • Representing several major recording industry companies, award winning songwriters, independent record companies and music publishers in a variety of distribution, touring, recording and publishing agreements
  • Represented a best-selling international R&B recording artist in getting a British court to stop a U.K. clothing chain from its unauthorized use of her image on one of their garments
  • Represented a best-selling international R&B recording artist in cancellation of Turkish trademark registration filed by an individual seeking to use the trademark in connection with a clothing line
  • Represented a Grammy Award-winning singer in connection with the writing and negotiation of a prenuptial agreement that went unchallenged during the singer's divorce proceedings
  • Representation of a renowned musician, singer, songwriter and record producer in connection with estate planning matters


  • Serving as finance and production counsel for an Oscar “Short List" 2014 documentary film directed by Steve James, based on the memoir of late film critic Roger Ebert. The film will be distributed by Magnolia Pictures for U.S. theatrical, VOD and home entertainment. Theatrical release will be followed by an exclusive television broadcast premiere on CNN, also negotiated with the help of Holland & Knight.
  • Serving as production counsel for 2013 Emmy-winning documentary film, from director Steve James and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz, which follows the lives of three violence interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from violence in which they had previously been involved. This film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, followed by a PBS Frontline broadcast.
  • Serving as production and finance counsel for Steppenwolf Films, co-producer of The Last Rites of Joe May and producer of The Rubber Room (in development)
  • Serving as production counsel for an independent film thriller, currently in post-production and scheduled for release in 2015
  • Serving as production counsel for a feature film released in 2013 featuring Robert De Niro
  • Providing ongoing assistance with a documentary film series regarding the artistic activities of the New York City Ballet


  • Representing media clients in connection with equity offerings and related financings
  • Achieved successful litigation results in Los Angeles representing the lender to a film production company seeking recovery of a loan
  • Serving as counsel for an investor providing substantially all the funds for an independent film and subsequently preparing loan and securities agreements for an additional loan for production
  • Providing frequent advice and guidance for investors considering significant film investments
  • Providing counsel for an investor in connection with a post-production loan for the film Admissions
  • Advising a celebrity chef regarding a securities offering and preparing documents in connection with her new restaurant
  • Assisting a filmmaker/producer in a successful IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign raising $150,000 within one month for finishing funds
  • Providing finance and production counsel for a live theater festival that brought Chicago productions previously seen at Steppenwolf and the Goodman Theaters to a summer resort community located in Three Oaks, Michigan

Additional Representative Work

  • Representing the creator and owner of a top ranked iTunes business podcast and author of a best-selling book series in connection with media and insurance issues
  • Representing a celebrity chef in connection with television and branding engagements and the opening of a new restaurant in Chicago in June 2015
  • Represented Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney in connection with the negotiation of a multimillion-dollar judgment in an elder abuse lawsuit against Rooney's stepson