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Specialist Guide to the
Global Leaders in Media Law Practice
Developments over the past year in the US include efforts to regulate social media companies and they way they moderate speech online, as well as transactional activity with large-scale industry mergers.
In May 2021, Florida signed a first-in-the-nation bill to fine technology companies that permanently bar political candidates in the state.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill in response to Facebook and Twitter’s bans of former President Donald J. Trump in January last year. Mr DeSantis previously said that big technology companies had “come to look more like Big Brother“.
Under the law, companies that remove political candidates from their platforms could be fined USD250,000 a day for state-wide candidates and USD25,000 a day for other candidates.
On signing the bill, Mr DeSantis said the law would give those in Florida “guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites”.
Federal judge Robert Hinkle issued a preliminary injunction in June, suggesting that the law would be found unconstitutional. In a 31-page order, Mr Hinkle wrote: ‘The legislation now at issue was an effort to rein in social-media providers deemed too large and too liberal.
Ballard Spahr significantly expanded its capacity after its merger with Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, which took effect in 2017. The firms operate under the name Ballard Spahr and together and together create a powerhouse combination with expertise in news, entertainment, sports, publishing and advertising. With decades of experience, lawyers assist some of the largest media clients, including advertisers nationally and worldwide.
First Amendment and media litigation specialist Cahill Gordon & Reindel has decades of experience defending free speech. The Media and Telecoms department works on complex disputes, the team advises on libel, privacy rights and copyright. Lawyers have extensive experience advising newspaper and magazine publishers, broadcast networks, motion picture and music distributors.
Clients praise Davis+Gilbert’s Entertainment, Media & Sports practice, emphasising that “the depth and breadth of their counsel creates long-term value for [clients],” and praising the firm’s ability to balance clients’ legal needs against business demands. The media group skillfully handles both deals and disputes, conducts pre-publication and pre-broadcast content review and provides advice on privacy, intellectual property, libel and other sophisticated issues posed by entertainment and editorial content. Clients range from authors, artists and athletes to publishers, producers, developers and distributors, across all content and spanning traditional to digital media.
A US leader for all matters related to media, Davis Wright Tremaine is widely recognised for its work in First Amendment litigation, pre-publication and pre-broadcast advice. The New York practice acts for local and multinational firms in cases of defamation, privacy and copyright. The firm’s specialisations include entertainment, radio, television, digital media and advertising.
Working from New York and Los Angeles, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz represents clients on multiple media cases. The firm focusses on cross-border transactions and global media clearance. Lawyers assist with interactive entertainment, copyright, advertising, celebrity branding and litigation. The practice also has over three decades of experience advising on production, distribution, broadcast and financing.
Hogan Lovells is widely recognised for its extensive involvement in high profile cases on behalf of media and entertainment clients. With decades of experience, the practice works with clients from the print, film, broadcast and games sectors. His experience includes representation of public and private companies in purchases and sales of professional sports franchises and venues.
Latham & Watkins works with entertainment and sports clients. The media practice advises on corporate, transactional and financial aspects of sector-related deals. The team assists with the creation, operation and financing of entertainment and media companies, including negotiating complex distribution and licensing agreements, mergers and acquisitions and structured finance transactions.
Loeb & Loeb is highly regarded by peers for its handling of entertainment and media cases. The firm’s industry specialisations include interactive and digital entertainment, radio, publishing and sports. Lawyers are involved in the negotiation of strategic distribution agreements with leading studios. The team has particular experience advising on television finance, production, distribution and talent.
Norris McLaughlin, P.A. services media law clients by leveraging the skills of a cross-functional attorney team from several disciplines within the firm, including Intellectual Property (Trademark/Copyright), Business Law, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Entertainment Law, and Labor and Employment. Whether for authors, designers and celebrities, or executives employed by related companies within the broader media industry, Norris McLaughlin has handled every type of media law matter. The firm’s practice is highlighted by attorneys Jeanne Hamburg, a trademark and copyright attorney credited by many as a “brilliant technician,” and David Harmon, an employment attorney who regularly negotiates compensation and separation agreements with some of the most recognisable brands in media and entertainment.
Sheppard Mullin’s global entertainment, technology and advertising practice is praised by clients and competitors worldwide as being "excellent, responsive, proactive and problem solving". The firm has been at the forefront of the streaming content boom, working with studios, television networks, independent producers, digital platforms, social media, major brands, celebrities, advertisers and other media companies around the world in the production, distribution and monetization of content. Lawyers represent entertainment companies in their financing and M&A activities and has been involved in some of the most significant matters in the industry. The firm’s representative clients include Amazon, Spotify and Netflix.
Cooley has an unfaltering reputation for sector specialisation. The practice is frequently praised for its media industry dedication and is highlighted by competitors nationally. Lawyers have broad experience structuring and negotiating transactions involving video and music content, including deals with leading US film studios, television networks, record companies and performing rights societies. The media division is involved in the representation of established and start-up companies.
Debevoise & Plimpton’s TMT division is active in corporate and transactional cases. Based in New York, Michael J. Gillespie advised Organizações Globo on its strategic alliance with News Corp. and Televisa to provide pan-regional DTH television services in Latin America. The firm was also appointed by Discovery Communications in its USD 195 million investment in Lions Gate Entertainment.
With a presence around the US, Dentons has a leading focus on media. The firm’s Chicago and New York practices work collaboratively on media-related disputes. The media teams routinely work on on cross-regional First Amendment cases, as well as handle commercial and finance-related cases on behalf of clients from the entertainment sports and music sectors.
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler has significant litigation experience. Lawyers act in complex commercial and antitrust cases across a range of media segments. The entertainment and sports practice is also active in cases involving corporate, financial and intellectual property matters. The firm has extensive experience representing music companies, cable operators sports teams and associations.
Perkins Coie’s service areas include sports, entertainment and advertising. The Seattle practices works on a range of industry cases, representing artists, authors, publishers, sports teams and musicians. Lawyers have extensive knowledge of digital media and interactive entertainment. Other areas of focus include copyright litigation, communications, marketing and technology.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has broad sector specialisation with a focus on broadcast, talent, and advertising. Media lawyers have extensive experience acting in cases of defamation, invasion of privacy and rights of publicity. The team advises on financing, production and distribution of motion pictures. Related experience includes assisting with the acquisition of film and programming rights and the purchase and sale of libraries. The firm’s media lawyers take the lead in cases connected with music, video and multi-media.
Venable’s lawyers have in-depth knowledge of the home entertainment, new media and advertising industries. The firm’s work includes assisting prominent independent feature film groups with production transactions and financing. The team represented independent film producers in a USD5 million fraud and breach of contract suit brought by foreign investors. Lawyers also acted for a leading advertising agency in a USD40 million indemnity action against its former client.
Arent Fox acts for diverse entertainment clients on transactional, regulatory and royalty rate-setting matters across all segments of the media industry. The practice is particularly known for its work with clients form the digital media, television, motion pictures and music sectors. Lawyers work from multiple locations including Washington, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Cravath, Swaine & Moore is known for its work with leading broadcasters and entertainment companies including Time Warner, Walt Disney and A&E Television. The team handles a range of complex transactional matters and litigation. Lawyers are noted for their experience in IP disputes and governmental regulatory investigations, as well as for work relating to defamation and corporate governance.
Well regarded by its competitors, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips is highlighted for its increased market visibility. The firm’s core service areas include advertising, marketing, entertainment and digital media. The media team also assists clients with online gaming, branded entertainment and mobile marketing.
Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp’s primary focus is on entertainment. Lawyers assist with transactions involving the development, financing, production and distribution of motion picture and interactive projects. In notable work the team negotiated the financing arrangement for a more than 20 high budget films with an estimated value of USD1.5 billion. Lawyers also have extensive experience advising on joint ventures, publishing and licensing agreements, advertising and copyright.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius represents traditional and emerging media companies on regulatory and transactional issues notably involving radio and television. Washington-based TMT practice also focusses on media ownership, competition and copyright issues.
Media work at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is driven by corporate and transactional cases. Working with clients from the entertainment industry, lawyers assist with purchases, sales and proposed M&As. Representative works includes advice to 21st Century Fox in its proposed USD 80 billion acquisition of Time Warner, representation of Walt Disney in its USD4 billion acquisition of LucasfilM and assistance to XM Satellite Radio in its USD13 billion tax-free merger-of-equals with Sirius Satellite Radio.
Arnall Golden Gregory’s dedicated practice group specialises in the defence of libel, defamation and invasion of privacy. The media groups in Washington and Atlanta work collaboratively, with a focus on disputes, commercial litigation and regulatory matters.
Foley & Lardner’s work covers sports, advertising, and copyright with broader emphasis on technology. The practice focusses on sports franchise investments, acquisitions, financing and commercial transactions. In representative work, lawyers acted for Guggenheim Baseball Management, the ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers, in its new television rights deal to launch SportsNet LA, a regional sports network for the franchise.
The media law practice group at Steptoe & Johnson routinely works with communications industry clients on matters ranging from copyright to complex commercial disputes. Core service areas include digital media, entertainment and e-commerce. The team advises on cases of defamation, commercial speech and corporate expression. In notable work lawyers assisted a production company on television co-production agreements with Chinese production companies for the broadcasting and distribution of television shows in China.
Kelley Drye & Warren has a respected practice committed to media and entertainment litigation, representing defendants and plaintiffs. In highlighted work the team successfully defended two television studios against a claim by two talent agencies for an increased percentage of the revenue generated by the off-network distribution of a television series. The team also aced for a Los Angeles television station against defamation and invasion of privacy claims.
The media group at Robins Kaplan works across a range of sectors. The team handles cases on behalf of advertising agencies, actors, musicians and athletes. Lawyers advise on independent motion picture and television production and distribution. The practice advises on high-profile disputes between recording artists and record companies, on royalty audits and motion picture profit participations.
Music specialist Ziffren Brittenham has extensive experience representing clients from the music industry. The firm has acted for more than 30 members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has negotiated multiple global rights deals. Lawyers advise numerous independent music labels and assist independent family entertainment and video game companies. The firm handles transactional cases and has supervised numerous successful public offerings of media companies.
Cahill Gordon & Reindel
Davis Wright Tremaine
Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
Jenner & Block
Latham & Watkins
Loeb & Loeb
Norris McLaughlin, P.A.
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton
Debevoise & Plimpton
Kirkland & Ellis
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
Olshan Frome Wolosky
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer
Covington & Burling
Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Arnall Golden Gregory
Foley & Lardner
Ladas & Parry
Morrison & Foerster
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
Steptoe & Johnson
Weil, Gotshal & Manges
Winston & Strawn
Clarick Gueron Reisbaum
Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis
Hughes Hubbard & Reed
Irell & Manella
Kelley Drye & Warren
Kellogg Hansen Todd Figel & Frederick
Ropes & Gray
Squire Patton Boggs
RANKING AND EDITORIALS
REGIONS WE COVER
Middle East and North Africa
Central and Eastern Europe
Balancing the exchange of ideas among private speakers is not a legitimate government interest.’
Commenting on the ruling, Mr DeSantis’ office stated: ‘We are disappointed by Judge Hinkle’s ruling and disagree with his determination that the US Constitution protects Big Tech’s censorship of certain individuals and content over others.’
In transactional activity, private equity firm Apollo Global Management announced the completion of its acquisition of Yahoo, formerly Verizon Media, in a USD5 billion deal. The deal closed in September 2021.
In May 2021, telecoms company AT&T announced plans to merge WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc to form a new global leader in entertainment. The merger will form a standalone company that combines WarnerMedia’s premium entertainment, sports and news assets with Discovery's non-fiction and international entertainment, as well as its sports businesses.