Media and Entertainment Law
In the field of media and entertainment SKW Schwarz is one of the leading law firms in Germany. What started at the end of the 1940s with films has diversified across all media and entertainment sectors: films and TV, press and publishers, music and sports, games, theater, advertising.
The media and entertainment sectors are subject to rapid technical and legal changes and there are no standard problems from either a legal or economic point of view. Many of our lawyers have a key advantage in that they have worked as company lawyers in the media and entertainment industry for a number of years before joining SKW Schwarz what made them understand what clients want from their lawyers.
Members of our media and entertainment law team teach young lawyers qualifying as copyright and media law specialists. We are part of the management of the German Producers’ Alliance, the lobbying association of German film and television producers and we have contributed to the formation of the Deutsche Filmakademie e.V., the German equivalent to the Academy.
Many lawyers of our media and entertainment team have covered various subjects in the "Handbuch des Film-, Video- und Fernsehrechts" (a manual of film, video and TV law; ed.: v. Hartlieb/Schwarz), “Recht im Verlag” (a manual of publishing law, ed.: Wegner/Wallenfels/Kaboth) and the loose-leaf collection on Internet law "Recht im Internet" (ed.: Schwarz/Peschel-Mehner) and we frequently publish articles on new legal developments in the media.
Movies and TV
SKW Schwarz has been rendering legal advice for movie and TV productions for many years. We can look back on a large number of national and international productions to which we have provided comprehensive advice.
Our expertise centers on assisting in all legal production matters, such as preparing contracts for production companies, TV stations and artists. Another focus lies on ensuring financing for cinema and TV productions by or on behalf of banks, film-funding institutions and private investors. For example, we have structured and developed private-equity investments for the financing of international feature films such as “Cloud Atlas”. We advise film distributors and global distributors regularly and prepare their distribution and licensing agreements.
Numerous German film and TV production companies, a large number of "independent" film and television production companies and well-known film and TV talent are among our clients. In addition, we regularly give advice to TV stations and VoD services in all aspects of their business and represent them in court to enforce their rights.
Best Lawyers awarded SKW Schwarz the title of “Law firm of the year for Media Law 2016”.
JUVE awarded SKW Schwarz the title of “Law firm of the Year Media & Technology” in 2016.
Movies and TV
SKW Schwarz has been rendering legal support for movie and TV productions for a long time now. We can look back on a large number of national and international productions to which we have provided comprehensive advice.
Our work centers on providing steady legal support for a production, above all preparing contracts for production firms, TV stations and artists. Another key task is to ensure financing for cinema and TV productions by banks, film-funding institutions and private investors. For example, we structure and support private-equity investments for the financing of international films. We manage already launched film funds and represent them in court. We advise film distributors and global distributors regularly and prepare production, distribution and license agreements.
Numerous German film and TV production companies, a large number of "independent" production companies and well-known film and TV stars are among our clients. In addition, we regularly give advice to TV stations in the framework of their daily business and represent them in court to enforce their rights.
The games industry has experienced a real boom during the last few years. SKW Schwarz was able to get its bearings very quickly in this area because the legal issues are similar to those of media and entertainment law as well as IT, Internet and e-business law. Our games specialists' know-how in giving advice on the projects of computer and videogames producers, securing financing (also via funds) and helping with acquisitions of German target companies is second to none.
Our focus is on German financers and international, large publishers, on behalf of whom we act not only in Germany, but in particular in Europe and worldwide. Our task is often to provide fund, private placement or private equity financing for the production and distribution of AAA games. So far, we have supported most of institutional financings from Germany. In addition, we take responsibility for the usually quite large issue of rights clearing – rights on engines, copyright issues, privacy issues, brand issues, music rights etc. – and develop international and national IP franchise, buy-out and license agreements. For completed products we draft user General Terms and Conditions and codes of conduct and ensure compliance with youth protection provisions.
Our clients include not only international major companies such as Electronic Arts, Microsoft or Ubisoft, but also a number of other domestic and foreign companies which are active in the games business. Developers, distributors, infotainment publishers, retail representatives, Internet service providers and partners from the financial sector all rely on our lawyers' expertise.
Business issues regularly arise in the music sector.
We advise and represent musical artists, bands and orchestras, event managers, agencies, festivals and organizations in all matters, in particular concerning contract, copyright, trademark and corporate law, and in sponsoring and advertising issues. We establish the optimal legal structure (civil-law partnership, limited-liability partnership, foundation, association etc) and draft the necessary partnership contracts or articles of association.
Labels and producers ask us to prepare standard contracts, artists want us to represent their legal and invoicing interests versus record companies, agencies, broadcasting stations, performance rights societies (GEMA, GVL, SUISA etc.), event organizers and the German social security system for artists. Our regular tasks include drafting and negotiating contracts for the national and international marketing of music, such as artist, staging, performance, record, guest performance and tour contracts, contracts with authors (composers, songwriters, lyric writers, etc.) and contracts between phonogram producers.
In addition, we take care of the privacy rights of artists, which may be affected by reports in the press, on the radio, on TV, on the Internet or by advertising.
Since the traditional business models in the music sector have started to come under pressure, one of the key questions is how to earn money with music in the current environment. The Internet is a key issue in this respect. Music has a significant share in overall Internet content. However, the creative artists never get anything for their efforts. In addition, the Internet is becoming an ever more important medium for bands which want to offer web streaming for their concerts. The SKW Schwarz music team supports artists, bands, musical ensembles and orchestras in developing business models for music which are economically viable under the current conditions. The legal questions arising from the online distribution of music can be answered on the grounds of our online and e-business expertise.
Our music specialists have been observing the market for classical and popular music in Germany and Europe for years and have close contacts to the relevant associations.
Press and publishing houses
SKW Schwarz works for fiction, non-fiction, academic, newspaper and magazine publishers on issues of publishing, copyright and competition law as well as of press law issues (right of free speech versus privacy rights).
We draft publisher, author, illustrator, photographer, translator and editor contracts and represent publishers in disputes with competitors, authors, editors, translators, illustrators and graphic designers. We also advise academic publishers on cooperation, development and magazine contracts. Concerning the right of free speech we advise companies (not least in connection with critical press releases) and private individuals and conduct disputes on press and privacy rights issues, including obtaining or averting preliminary injunctions, corrections etc.
Our lawyers do not only write and negotiate contracts, they also represent our clients in court. We regularly conduct press and publisher proceedings on behalf of our clients. Thanks to our years of experience we can usually guess the optimal strategy for each case.
SKW Schwarz's expertise in IT, internet and e-business law enables us to give competent advice to popular and academic publishers about recent developments such as electronic publications, mixed forms between print and electronic products (for example non-fiction books), e-books etc. Our experience with the film and TV business is helpful publishers and authors if a book is to be turned into a movie.
In cooperation with Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels SKW Schwarz has created standard contracts for publishers. These have been published in the German-language standard work "Recht im Verlag" (Wegner/Wallenfels/Kaboth: Recht im Verlag, Verlag C.H. Beck), to which two of our lawyer contributed as editors and authors.
In 2007 SKW Schwarz received the JUVE award as "Law Firm of the Year" for press and publishing law.
Advertising regularly reaches a wide public. As a result, it is not only received by the target groups, but also by competitors, consumer protectors and associations watching against unfair practices. Advertising therefore frequently forms the subject of warnings. Breaches of the law in advertising often have financially fatal consequences if the advertising is stopped suddenly or products even have to be removed from the market because of erroneous information on the packaging.
We can, of course, also institute corresponding legal proceedings but it makes more sense and is more efficient to avoid them. We therefore see our main task as providing our clients preventive advice:
on the one hand, advertising and communications agencies of all shapes (from traditional agencies through PR to internet agencies) and sizes (from international networks to owner-run agencies);on the other hand, advertising companies from all sectors – from automobiles to newspapers.
Our team has proven legal expertise, in particular in competition, pharmaceutical advertising, trademark and copyright law, and above all in film and music law. In addition, we have industry-specific know-how based on more than 25 years of experience. We therefore know what works in advertising and what does not. And, even more importantly, what can happen and what needs to be considered in a buyout or a product placement. We therefore regard ourselves as creative trailblazers who should be involved as early as possible, rather than as inhibitors. Together with foreign lawyers from our international networks, we can provide legal advice for international advertising quickly and pragmatically.
In the field of media, SKW Schwarz has proved its expert knowledge acquired over many years: According to industry service JUVE, the office holds a firm position at the top of the market in copyright law and contract law for TV, film and entertainment.
Apart from advertising-related consultancy, our team is also happy to examine and draw up the necessary contracts for you. These include, on the one hand, contracts between agency and customer. Important aspects here are liability and the scope of the buyout. In addition, SKW Schwarz develops contracts with all the people involved in a promotion, such as for example, models, directors, producers or film productions.
Upon request, lawyers from SKW Schwarz provide in-house training at advertising agencies and companies and explain which legal areas require attention according to the circumstances.