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Article by Guest Contributor


A rare area of expertise in our law is entertainment and sports law.  Although the general and usual principles of law always apply to all legal matters, the entertainment and sports law field is a very specialised field. There is less than a handful of attorneys in South Africa who specialise in this field.  “This field” refers to entertainment law, and entertainment law covers anything from fashion (fashion houses; models; modelling agents); film (production; sales; agents; actors; staff who make movies; locations (hire/rent) – a legion of people involved and everything needs a contract); tv productions (documentaries, tv series, shorts, magazine programmes, advertisements); music (singers, bands, managers, agents, recording studios, labelling studios, marketing, producing); international films (when overseas films are being shot here – apart from the usual contracts and required legalities – these films need extra contracts for production house etc); sports (this area of the law is as big as the field of sports is.  This includes professional and amateur – all the sports bodies, clubs, members, events, marketing, managers). 

Each area has its own requirements and one cannot draw up general contracts and you most certainly need somebody with the expertise to attend to entertain and sports law contracts and other legalities that have to be dealt with.

We have found that all the musicians, actors, recording studios, production companies, talent agents, and others in these fields that we have assisted, that general contracts drafted without the necessary expertise comes back to haunt you. It goes without saying that if you don’t know what to look out for you can’t see it coming.

Imagine Warner Brothers makes a movie in South Africa. (There are currently about 30 international movies being shot in South Africa. Imagine, if you will, for a moment the enormity of the entourage of people that will arrive from overseas to make this movie, together with the local team that is hired to help make the movie.  Every single person, event, props, vehicles, food, accommodation, licenses, copyright, trademark, permissions from local government, licenses must be dealt with in a legal context.  And this must happen before the shooting of the movie is started.  You can’t be midway a big-budget production only to find out that you do not have permission from the municipality yet to for example close a certain road between certain hours to do a shooting there, only to hold up the whole production for weeks/months on end.

The type of contracts that will be needed in entertainment  law varies from setting up a business, procuring a production house, draft servicing and facilitation agreements, co-production agreements. These type of projects are nearly always financed, so one also needs financing agreements.

With regards to music, an artist’s will need assistance with the negotiation of recording and publishing, copyright of songs and lyrics, agreement with his/her manager, to negotiate and draft agreements with regards to income,

In sports law, contracts with agents, managers, event managers, advertising and sponsorship contracts, indemnity contracts, clubs and provincial and international events are required, to name but a few.

Do not underestimate the necessity to have a solid, well-drafted contract that takes all the areas of the specific specialised field into account.  Rather find an attorney who is well-experienced and qualified in this field.