Executive Director's Report

The Fun Forum

Our Forum on Entertainment and Sports Law Tackles Members’ Many Interests

Posted Dec 20, 2004 3:46 AM CDT
By Robert A. Stein

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The exciting world of en­ter­tainment and sports law is a magnetic draw for law students and young lawyers. The ABA Forum on En­ter­tain­ment and Sports Law is the bene­fi­ci­ary of that interest as its mem­­bership continues to grow and its services to expand.

The forum, which was founded in 1978, now has 5,600 members with an exceptionally large law student member­ship. Chaired this year by Kenneth Abdo of Minneapolis, the forum is led by an eight-member Governing Commit­tee elected by the membership at the forum’s annual meeting in the fall.

Because of the multiplicity of interests of its members, the forum is organized into eight divisions: Merchan­dising and Licensing; Motion Pictures, Televi­sion, Cable, and Radio; Music and Per­so­nal Appearances; Legitimate The­a­ter and Performing Arts; Sports; Literary Pub­lish­ing; In­teractive Media and New Technologies; and Visual Arts. The division chairs, along with newsletter and publications editors, meet twice a year with the Governing Com­mittee to manage the business of the forum and ensure top-notch services for its members.

Online Issues, Ethics and More

The scope of the subject matter of the forum’s divisions, programs and publications is broad. It spans cutting-edge, headline-garnering issues such as the new world of digital and online music, the rapidly changing world of sports broadcasting, product placement in film and television, pri­vacy rights and libel issues in the age of tell-all memoirs, intellectual property issues in an ever-changing global marketplace with interacting legal systems, the growing world of sponsorship and branding, and the ethical dilemmas in representing high-profile clients.

Through its annual conference in October, held this year in Los Angeles, the forum offers its members sophisticated CLE programs with expert presenters. This year’s annual conference attracted 400 attendees to 21 panel presentations featuring 96 expert presenters.

An orientation program at the annual conference for law students and new lawyers to the entertainment and sports law area answers queries on substantive law, practice preparation and employment opportunities, but mostly it ensures that the newer members feel the camaraderie of being part of the forum. Ethics and substance abuse courses and credits, as well as courses on law office economics and other such practical issues, are also on the menu. To encourage registrants to join the forum, reduced member tuition for CLE is offered to anyone who joins on-site. Forum membership dues are $50 for attorneys/associates and $20 for law students.

In addition to the annual conference, the forum co­spon­sors several events with such groups as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (which presents the Grammy Awards). The forum has also participated in events sponsored by Billboard magazine, the South by Southwest (SXSW) music organization, and various law schools promoting entertainment and sports law.

All forum members receive its quarterly news­letter, En­tertainment and Sports Lawyer, which publishes substantive articles and reports that highlight key issues in entertainment and sports law. Also, through its publications program, the forum repackages all of its program materials from each annual conference on CD-ROMs, including presentation outlines, forms, checklists and other helpful information from nearly all of the sessions. Now available for purchase via the Web site are “Entertain­ment and Sports Law in the New Economy,” a CD-ROM containing program materials from the 2003 forum annual conference in New York City, and “The Art of the Deal” from the 2002 forum annual conference in Nashville.

The work of the forum’s divisions offers numerous opportunities for members to hone their expertise. For example, the Li­terary Publishing Di­vision works on author-publisher contracts, copyright, titles and trademarks, joint authorship, First Amendment issues, electronic publishing, and international marketing and for­eign laws. Motion Pictures, Tele­vi­sion, Cable and Radio examines copyright, federal regula­tion and administrative practice, antitrust, unfair competition and trade practices, contract mat­ters and legal issues involving new technology.

The In­teractive Media and New Technolo­gies Division looks at all aspects of the ever-expanding universe of interactive media and new technology arts. Visual Arts tackles issues of crea­tion, repro­duc­­tion, display, acquisition or transfer of a work of art. Legitimate Theater and Performing Arts focuses on all le­gal aspects of live stage productions and other live per­for­mances in the United States and throughout the world.

For more information about the Forum on Entertain­ment and Sports Law, contact its superb staff director, Dawn Holiday, at 312-988-5660 or via e-mail at holidayd@ staff.abanet.org.

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