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Specialist Guide to the

Global Leaders in Media Law Practice


Transactional activity reshapes the print media market in Canada while the video game industry ranks among the largest in the world, according to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC).

In December 2017 Groupe Lexis Media acquired 12 newspapers, and their related web services, from TC Media in a multi-year agreement that includes printing and distribution of all titles.

The deal also includes the transfer of 75 employees from various publications and 16 employees from TC Media’s production team.

Plans to sell its regional newspapers in Quebec and Ontario were announced in April last year by TC Media. It says 60 per cent of its publications that are part of the sale process now have new local owners.

Lawyers say print media is “undergoing significant transformation” at a time of continued declining advertising revenue. In November 2017, Canada’s two largest newspaper companies announced a deal to buy and sell ownership of 41 titles.

The transaction between Torstar and Postmedia essentially involves swapping newspapers but more crucially includes the closure of 36 titles in regions that are served by multiple publications.

Meanwhile the Canadian video game industry contributes to show considerable growth, adding CAD 3.7 billion annually to the country’s GDP, while housing 596 active studios.

The ESAC also highlights the scale of production in its report published in September 2017, which states that studios completed 2,100 video game projects in 2017 - an increase of 67 per cent in the last two years.

Other developments include the launch of Alt TV by Bell Canada. The app-based television package was released in May 2017 amid changing viewing habits in favour of video streaming.


Cassels Brock & Blackwell is one of the most established entertainment and copyright law practices in Canada. The firm is appointed by publishers, producers, broadcasters, animators and concert promoters. Among work, the team assisted Canadian Football League with Grey Cup performance agreements for the Black Eyed Peas and Shania Twain. Other focus areas include gaming and sports law.

Gowling WLG is an established leader in the area of media law. The firm works across several service areas that include entertainment, defamation, gaming, advertising and social media. Each division is managed by a dedicated partner, which means in-depth industry knowledge and broad expertise. The firm’s size and scale amplified after Gowlings merged with UK firm Wragge Lawrence Grahman & Co in January 2016, creating double the capacity nationally and abroad.

The Stikeman Elliott media team specialises in entertainment and sports law and has extensive experience in the financing of films and television programs. Other focus areas include licensing of intellectual property including publicity rights and rights of personality. The team also advised on competition issues arising from the purchase of a newspaper chain and advise on the sale of sports franchises.


Dentons advises several Hollywood studios, US-based independent production companies and television networks on communications and entertainment law. Vancouver-based Gordon W. Esau manages a practice that is visible across a range of cases that include mergers and acquisition. The team also assists US-based animation and visual effects companies on establishing Canadian studios. Well positioned nationally, the firm has offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Goodmans has a high profile portfolio of clients from the entertainment sector. The practice specialises in film, television, digital media and book publishing. The entertainment law group is managed by David Zitzerman who has practiced entertainment law exclusively for 25 years. Working with his team, Mr Zitzerman represents American and Canadian studios, broadcasters, independent producers, game companies and talent agencies.

Lawyers at McCarthy Tétrault have in-depth knowledge of cyber security, privacy, data protection and copyright. Montréal-based Véronique Wattiez Larose is one of the firm’s key contacts with experience advising clients from the video game and music industries.

With a cross-border focus, Torys regularly advises international clients in a range of service areas, from traditional media and corporate transactions to commercial exploitation. In representative work, the team acted for Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in its USD 142.4 million acquisition of a 17.9 per cent stake in Entertainment One from Marwyn Value Investors.


DLA Piper has seven offices across Canada with diverse market coverage. The firm’s capacity was expanded in March 2015 after the firm merged with Vancouver-based law firm Davis. Leading practitioner Chris Bennett works with regional partners representing the sports and entertainment industries. The firm represents local and international clients on finance, corporate issues, production and rights acquisition and competition law.

McMillan’s media work ranges from financing, syndication and sponsorship through to securing international production and distribution rights. The media, communications and entertainment team, managed by Desmond Balakrishnan, advises recording artists, gaming companies, film and television producers and multimedia companies.

Toronto-based Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond specialises in entertainment, marketing and copyright. Diana Cafazzo and Ron Hay are highlighted by peers who say both partners “are active in media and entertainment law and have been opposite us on numerous transactions in recent years.”  The firm acts for clients in the film, music, broadcasting, publishing and sports industries.

Ranking and editorials


Cassels Brock  

Gowling WLG  

Stikeman Elliott


Baker McKenzie   



McCarthy Tétrault   



Blake, Cassels & Graydon

DLA Piper


Norton Rose Fulbright  

Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond


Bennett Jones

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt


Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh


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