Saturday, February 25, 2012

An Interview with Entertainment Lawyer James T. Hetz, Esq.

The following is an interview with Mr. James T. Hetz, Entertainment and Intellectual Property Lawyer conducted by Marissa Emerson, Masters in Science Entertainment Business, Full Sail University.  © 2012 RoaringSun Productions Creative Content Writers. All Rights Reserved.

The focus of this interview is to explore relevant connections between research information acquired during this interview and the business plan of © 2012 RoaringSun Productions Creative Content Writers in order to assimilate any pertinent information within said business and financial plan deliverable.

1) After reviewing your extensive background and education biography, I wondered if you have any personal preferences in entertainment industry law, such as films over television or radio, etc.?
       No, not really.  There are interesting aspects in each industry.  I really enjoy film production legal counsel work.  In music, I enjoy the negotiation aspect of record deals.  In television, I enjoy the production counsel aspects as well.”

2) What advantages does Hetz, Jones & Goldberg, LLC, have of being an on-set (back lot offices © Universal Studios) law firm?
     “We are immediately accessible to film, television and music productions that occur on Universal property.  It is like having an In-house" law firm at their disposal.  We have a special arrangement with Universal Studios that allows us to be on property.”

3) Has your firm ever represented © Universal Studios in a Trademark or Copyright litigation?  No, they have their own legal department.”

4) Due to the increase in internet content creation, how well do you think the Digital Millennium Copyright Law is protecting freelance content creators? 

 It is effective when used properly.  Remember, DMCA is just an expansion of the rights already provided under copyright law.  Copyright registration of all works is crucial when enforcing and protecting rights.  I think it is incumbent upon the content creators to protect their online works with anti-circumvention tools.”  

5) Can you share any experiences regarding intellectual property cyber lawsuits?

 “Defended a domain owner against a claim of trademark infringement.  Their counsel demanded transfer of my client's domain name to their client threatening ICANN and trademark suit.  Client have business trade secret reasons for keeping the domain but not using it.  With that as a defense, the dispute never progressed any further.”

6) What types of protective registrations should an internet based author/writer/content creator have on their website domain?  “Copyright, trademark and anti-circumvention safeguards for original work posted.”

7) When a domain owner discovers a possible trademark/copyright infringement what is the time frame/lapse to go into litigation, or is it perpetual?

 Domain owners do not normally garner any federal protection for their names.  A federal trademark registration is necessary to provide the strongest protection.  There may also be state law protections in the form of unfair competition and business practices.  If you are referring to a domain owner being notified of trademark infringement, there is a procedure under ICANN to settle the dispute.  Typically, the domain owner would receive a cease and desist, then possible a demand for transfer of the domain to the trademark owner.  ICANN dispute procedure can be initiated, or it could go straight to litigation.  Time frames vary depending upon the circumstances.”

8) What is the highest criminal penalty in Florida for Trademark/copyright infringement? Assuming it was done with full knowledge and malicious intention?

  “There are varying crimes against intellectual property.  The most severe penalty I've seen is related to sale of counterfeit goods, including music CD's at 5 years prison and $5,000 fine.”

9) Which business entity is best for an online freelance creative content writers business, LLC or Inc.? 

 “Either.  It depends upon numerous factors.  They both provide protection.  We prefer LLC's in our firm.”

        10) What is the advantage of hiring your firm for Trademark and Copyright registration as opposed to “do-it-yourself?”

 As with any legal issue, an attorney can evaluate the facts of a particular client's situation and adjust or counsel them accordingly.  For example, did you know that registering a trademark without conduction a full trademark search an obtaining an attorney clearance letter can subject you to the loss of registering your trademark in good faith.  This in turn can subject you to more severe penalties if you do in fact infringe upon someone's trademark.”

11) What special considerations should I research in regards to Children’s Television programming and laws pertaining to children in television?

  “Start with Federal Communications Commission regulations.  Also, look to the TV Parental Guidelines for info”

12) Should a freelance writer have a literary agent?

 Yes, if the agent is obtaining work for the writer. Otherwise, an attorney could be hired to review any contracts that the writer obtains.”

13) Any suggestions or experience you can share regarding Entertainment law and Children?

  “Without knowing a specific are you are referring to, no.  I will point out that if you intend to hire a minor for employment in entertainment, you need to have the contract approved by the courts.”

SUMMARY: One of the most important pints Mr.Hetz touched on in relation to my business was the importance of properly copyrighting and registering trademarks. He mentions that not registering properly could lead to a loss of registering your "brand." Researching laws regarding Children in Entertainment Laws will be important in order to abide by the rules to protect myself and the client.

Marissa Emerson, EBMS

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© 2012 RoaringSun Productions Creative Content Writers
( Retrieved February 25, 2012

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