The media industry operates in a complex framework subject to national regulation. Media law encompasses all forms of media – print, digital, radio and broadcast television. It involves the regulation of media production and use.
Media law encompasses various legal issues related to media production – freedom of speech, defamation, copyright, censorship, as well as license negotiations and talent agreements. While Media lawyers generally represent employers, such as film productions and investors, they may also work for individuals such as actors, musicians, and copyright holders.
While media law has traditionally been associated with journalists, publishers and telephone companies, the advent of the internet means everyday people are just as likely to face legal complications. You-tubers might be forced to remove content due to copyright infringements, and restaurants may sue people who post defamatory reviews online. Responding to these possible infringements usually requires the expertise of a lawyer.
Regulation of the Australian Media is limited to a narrow range of specific areas. The radio and television broadcasting is monitored by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA), which oversees the implementation of Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Broadcasting Reform) Bill 2017 and Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth), the dominant Acts in broadcast media.
Other crucial legislations in Media law include the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth), the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 (Cth), and the Radio Communications Act 1992 (Cth). Further, codes of conduct and industry standards are highly influential within media law.
What Is A Media Lawyer?
A media lawyer provides practical and commercial legal advice to clients in the entertainment, media and creative industries. They deal with legal issues including intellectual property rights, broadcasting, licensing rights and defamation law. They may also assist clients in the fields of multimedia and new technology including web businesses and Apps, Games, mobile content creation, software development, aggregation and licensing of content, and copyright protection of new media content. Often, media lawyers will represent performers and television personalities by providing legal advice regarding their rights and interests when contracting with a corporation.
Besides this, media lawyers are experts in intellectual property law, specific to creations such as music and other media works. Additionally, they may advise many of the key local and international financiers in film, TV and other intellectual property (IP) based industries, including banks, private financiers, private equity interests and government agencies.
Why Do I Need A Media Lawyer?
Communication and media law is becoming increasingly important to everyday citizens who interact online. The law draws very fine lines between many legally permissible forms of speech and unprotected speech that could expose you to liability. What may seem like a constitutionally protected opinion to you may, in fact, be defamatory statement for which you could be liable.
What you may think is a fair use tribute to your favourite television show may actually be copyright infringement. This is why it is important to consult an experienced attorney immediately if your content is taken down by a website or if you receive a “cease and desist” letter. Getting legal assistance quickly can help you identify any allegedly offending matter and know when you do not have to comply.
Further, you are someone who is in the entertainment industry or involved in making creative products, it will be important to have a media lawyer represent you when you are looking to protect your creations or contract with media corporations. It is important that you are represented by a media lawyer if you are being signed to any entertainment corporation, as part of the agreement may include the signing over of your intellectual property rights.
What Will A Media Lawyer Provide?
A media lawyer will provide expert entertainment and intellectual property law advice. Beside this, they have sound experience within the entertainment industry and will therefore provide affordable, appropriate and effective solutions for your matter. If you are a performer, media personality, artist or other creative, a media lawyer knows the importance of your area of expertise. They will adapt a straightforward approach to your matter, ensuring your rights and interests are protected.
A media lawyer may offer a range of expertise and services, such as:
- Rights clearance
- Rights acquisition
- Complex negotiations with computer software developers and computer hardware suppliers
- Merchandising and ancillary rights protection and exploitation
- Distribution and sales
- Open Standards development and licensing
- Creative Commons and Free For Education licensing
- R & D Investor financing and Tax Incentives
How Much Will A Media Lawyer Charge?
Media lawyers will charge varying rates. For most entertainment legal work, it is normal for media lawyers to charge by the hour. In some cases, media lawyers will charge on a fixed-price basis for intellectual property matters if the matter is a smaller application. In most cases, if you are an entertainer, the costs in gaining legal representation will change based on your status in the industry and the importance and time required for your legal matter. With LawPath we can connect you with the media lawyer best suited to your legal needs.
We work with Media lawyers in our network who specialise in media law and can provide assistance on a fixed-price basis. We make sure the price is transparent and affordable. There are no hidden costs and you have the option of choosing who you want to be your lawyer.
Hourly rates and Court fees
The cost of a Media Lawyer will vary based on the scope of the work. Small issues likely to be addressed quickly will cost less. For matters that will need to go to the relevant Court or Tribunal, there may be additional fees involved, particularly as this work takes time. These types of matters may also involve obtaining documents and negotiating with the other party.
What can a Media Lawyer legally charge?
Legal costs can rise very quickly, especially in litigation. However, this is sometimes hard to avoid when work is being done by a lawyer on an hourly basis. Where fixed-fees are not offered by the lawyer, you should expect to be invoiced on a monthly basis with a time period within which you are required to make payment. Lawyers are required to adhere to the rules outlined in the relevant acts. For example, in NSW and Victoria, this is the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014. Lawyers who do not comply with these rules can face disciplinary action from the law society of their State.
Lawyers are required to provide to their clients a document called a ‘costs disclosure’ if your costs will be higher than $750.00. This document will outline how costs will be calculated in relation to your case. Also be mindful that costs are divided into ‘professional costs’ and ‘disbursements’, and you will be expected to pay for both. Professional costs are the costs of the actual work done by the lawyer, whilst disbursements cover incidentals such as court filing fees, telephone calls, photocopying charges – amongst other things.
What if I don’t agree with the costs?
You have the right to request an itemised bill that will outline how much time was spent on each task in relation to your matter, and how this adds up to the fee you’re requested to pay. If you wish to dispute the cost, you can make a complaint to the The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) and they will investigate the matter and may allocate a costs assessor. You can also take further legal action in the Courts if you feel you have been unfairly charged.