If you pay attention to the music industry, you’ve probably noticed that most of your favorite artists have dedicated entertainment lawyers. These professionals represent them when they’re suing someone or being sued, which can happen for the following reasons.
Most artists work with their lawyers and the US Copyright Office to protect the work they create. If someone records, sells, or performs their songs without their permission, the unauthorized user is guilty of copyright infringement. Artists rely on lawyers such as John Branca, who attended UCLA for law school and has represented groups such as Aerosmith and the Beach Boys, to protect their property.
Copyright infringement cannot occur if a work is in the public domain, and entertainment lawyers help their clients understand this issue, too. Generally, works enter the public domain 70 years after the creator dies. As a result, if two artists sample the same public domain track in their works, they cannot sue each other. The same is true if they both cover a song in the public domain.
Many famous musicians have problems with defamation, which means that people publicly make false claims about them. Defamation can be written, in which case it is called libel, or spoken, also known as slander. Slander and libel can take place on social media, in newspapers, on blogs, during press conferences, or at awards shows. If artists want to sue someone for defamation, they must be able to prove that the claims are false. They also have to prove that they lost money because of libel or slander. For example, if someone writes a fabricated article about how a musician is supporting hate groups and his or her ticket sales plummet, he or she has a good chance of winning a court case.
Frequently, musicians rely on their brands to make money beyond recording new albums. They sell merchandise such as shirts, hats, and mugs related to their songs, or they sponsor beauty product lines. Sometimes, other companies try to appropriate musicians’ brands for their own products. In these cases, artists rely on their lawyers to regulate their brands and ensure that their lyrics and logos are not used without their consent.
High-profile musicians are in the public eye more than ever before thanks to social media, YouTube, and other streaming services. They rely on lawyers such as John Branca to see them through these legal challenges.