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The Yau Law Firm
Focused on Protecting Businesses and Representing the Injured

Jo-Anne Yau Addresses Entertainment Law Issues: Piracy and Ethics

  Piracy and ethical considerations in the entertainment industry have always been issues faced by entertainment lawyers.  Jo-Anne Yau, attorney at Jacksonville-based firm Yau Law, was invited by Florida Coastal School of Law’s Entertainment Law Society, to address these issues, and offer best practices tips for students with aspirations of practicing entertainment law.

Ms. Yau offered three key pieces of advice.  First, she stressed the importance of mastering contracts and Business Law.  Performers, artists, and other creative clients need to have their intellectual property protected.  Only then can licenses, cease and desist letters, and infringement or misappropriation have leverage in negotiations or litigation.

The second piece of advice Ms. Yau offered was an emphasis on ethics.  For instance, like any field, the entertainment industry has its own unique standards of practice.  Examples of such industry standards include royalty fees and residuals.  No matter how experienced the general practice attorney, an expert in the industry should be consulted for entertainment law cases, to best understand what expectations are par for the course. 

Finally, Ms. Yau cautioned attorneys from taking on entertainment law clients on a contingency basis.  A lawyer should always act in the best interests of the client.  However, when a client’s career decisions affect an attorney’s fee, the danger is that the lawyer now also becomes the client’s agent or manager–roles that an attorney typically is not trained to take on.

Other speakers at this roundtable included Jeff Levin, the A&R Director for Atlantic Records, and Alex Ploegsma, from the New York law firm of Serling, Rooks, Ferrara, McKoy & Worob.  The roundtable was moderated by Carolyn Herman, who teaches Entertainment Law and Intellectual Property Law at Florida Coastal School of Law.

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