»LL.M. in Entertainment and Media Law

With cooperation from the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, the School of Law offers an LL.M. degree in Entertainment and Media Law that is designed to combine the study of entertainment legal principles with the exploration of the artistry of film and media arts, with opportunities for critical connections through Dodge College and the greater Southern California film industry.

Professors are licensed professionals with comprehensive industry experience, and their collective work includes:

  • Representing and advising motion picture distribution companies, major film studios, and entertainment unions
  • Conducting media and sports contract negotiations
  • Publishing copiously in legal journals
  • Attaining industry-acknowledged expert status in the realm of intellectual property law
Learn more about the program and admission requirements for the LL.M. in Entertainment and Media Law.

+-Courses

Required Courses

COPYRIGHT LAW (3 credits)

ENTERTAINMENT LAW (3 credits)

This course explores legal issues connected with the development, production, and exploitation of entertainment product, focusing predominantly on filmed entertainment and news media, to some extent on musical compositions and recordings, and incidentally on other forms of entertainment. Topics include:

  • life story and personality rights (defamation, invasion of privacy, etc.)
  • celebrity publicity rights
  • profit participation
  • collective bargaining agreements and artistic credits
  • non-copyright protection of ideas
  • contract formation and duration
  • ethics and regulation of talent representatives such as agents, lawyers, and managers
  • selected copyright and trademark issues.

Copyright is not a prerequisite, and this class should not be considered as a replacement for the copyright course.

Elective Courses

ACCOUNTING FOR LAWYERS (2 credits)

This course represents an introduction to accounting for students with little background in the field. Initial emphasis is on established accounting principles and the analysis of financial statements. The course's perspective is that of a business attorney using financial statements to advise clients in various legal settings (e.g., the drafting of buy-sell agreements and the valuation of businesses). Students are expected to consider state and federal privileges between accountants and their clients, as well as the professional responsibility of an attorney to a corporate client.

ADVANCED TOPICS IN COPYRIGHT LAW (2-3 credits)

This course offers an in-depth analysis of the rights and remedies afforded to copyright owners under U.S. law.

ADVANCED TOPICS IN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (2-3 credits)

This advanced course in intellectual property may cover topics such as patent and trade secret law, biotechnology law, copyright law, or trademarks and unfair competition.

ART AND CULTURAL PROPERTY LAW (2-3 credits)

In this interdisciplinary course we explore how the law shapes and constrains artistic expression. We will focus on the censorship of art, as well as moral rights, the right of publicity, and issues that arise in the art market: stolen art, forgeries, authentication, and agreements for the transfer and commission of works of art. The class frequently considers contemporary art controversies as a means of examining these broader issues. We will also discuss the protection of Indigenous cultural resources and religions, including tangible and intellectual cultural property, its identity, ownership, appropriation and repatriation. We will examine the various domestic legal regimes as they concern areas of Indigenous cultural property, focusing on the preservation of the cultural property of groups as a means to maintain group identity, and assert sovereignty and self-determination. (Prerequisite: IP).

FILM AND TELEVISION LAW (2-3 credits)

This course offers a detailed look at how the law affects the development, financing, and distribution of motion pictures and television programs. Because contracts play an especially important role in this field, the course will emphasize how people in the film and television business negotiate, draft, and interpret agreements. The course also examines the background rules, such as intellectual property and labor laws, that shape those agreements. Rather than court opinions arising out of litigation, the course will focus on case studies illustrating the law's role in the film and television industry.

FIRST AMENDMENT LAW (3 credits)

This course is a study of the fundamental freedoms of speech, press, association, and religion. In addition to considering the historical background, the course focuses on specific challenges in First Amendment jurisprudence, including:

  • regulation of speech in a public forum
  • access to the media
  • regulation of the press
  • symbolic expression
  • libel
  • obscenity
  • commercial speech
  • picketing
  • right of association
  • loyalty oaths
  • legislative investigations and government demands for information
  • separation of church and state
  • free exercise of religion
  • state aid to religious schools
  • regulation of religion-based conduct.

GAMBLING LAW (2-3 credits)

This course covers the law and policy of regulating gambling, one of the fastest growing segments of the entertainment industry. The course will examine the history and current development of, as well as possible future changes to, gambling regulation in California, the United States, and other parts of the world. Topics discussed will include:

  • casino gambling
  • lotteries
  • pari-mutuel wagering
  • sports-betting
  • Indian gaming
  • Internet gambling.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (3 credits)

This course surveys the primary types of intellectual property under federal and state law. It emphasizes trademarks, copyrights, and patents while also addressing unfair competition, rights of publicity, trade secrets, and protection of designs. The course analyzes the rights and remedies associated with each type of intellectual property that it covers, as well as the relationships between different types of intellectual property.

INTERNATIONAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (2-3 credits)

This is the introductory course in international law, covering the nature and sources of international law and its major developments. This course introduces students to the basic law of the international organizational system, including the United Nations and UN specialized agencies. The course introduces concepts of international law and how they achieve legitimacy in the international system through United Nations organs and conferences, the International Court of Justice, the International Law Commission, treaty bodies, and state practice. The law of foreign sovereign immunity and the act of state doctrine are considered along with the role of international law in the U.S. legal system and the allocation of foreign affairs powers between the President and Congress. Selected topics that may be explored include international claims (including expropriation law), human rights, norms governing the use of force, and the law of the sea and environmental issues.

LABOR LAW (3 credits)

This course examines the statutes, judicial decisions, and decisions of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) affecting employer/union relations. Topics include:

  • the union election process and other means to determine whether employees want to be represented by a union
  • collective bargaining negotiations between unions and employers
  • union strikes
  • picketing, and boycotts, and employer lockouts and other responses to union activity
  • the impact of these laws on business mergers and acquisitions.

LAW AND PRACTICE OF THE HOLLYWOOD GUILDS (3 credits) 

This course deals with state and federal law related to the most important unions in the entertainment industry, the so-called "Hollywood Guilds" which include:

  • the Writers Guild of America (WGA)
  • the Directors of Guild of America (DGA)
  • the Screen Actors Guild (SAG),
  • the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).

Students will consider a wide variety of legal issues and practices related to managing the creation, production and distribution of intellectual property and the division of the income it generates. The course will also examine collective bargaining agreements of the Hollywood Guilds with regards to the employment of actors/performers and directing teams and screenwriters, as well as the financing of projects and the regulation of agents.

NEGOTIATING AND DRAFTING MEDIA INDUSTRY TRANSACTIONS (3 credits)

This course provides a detailed review analysis of the attorney's role in media transactions, as well as practical experience in drafting documents and communications, from the inception of an original idea through distribution via new media technology. The course includes:

  • a review of copyright and personal rights and an analysis of the contracts necessary for the protection and acquisition of those rights
  • analysis of employment contracts for actors
  • directors and crew
  • discussion of media finance and distribution
  • and a look at the role of unions, guilds, agents and managers.

Through a series of increasingly complex exercises, each of which receives detailed comments, students maintain client files for three separate transactions, which include research, correspondence, and drafting of contracts. Students draft contracts based upon information provided in class and a client interview. Students also practice the negotiation of drafting contracts via redline and in person.

MUSIC PUBLISHING AND LICENSING (2-3 credits)

This course explores the contractual issues that surround the publishing and licensing of music, spoken word, and music synchronized with moving pictures. Students will study general copyright issues, publishing and administration, licensing, performing rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, etc.), and digital (internet) rights. Students will apply skills learned in intellectual property, agency, and other introductory courses. Topics within the course can include:

  • sources of music - writers vs. publishers
  • commercials & jingles, copyright filing
  • mechanical, synchronization and master licensing
  • residual royalties
  • establishing & administering a publishing company
  • music libraries
  • sub-publishing
  • public domain works
  • foreign royalties
  • venue licenses
  • producer points.

To fully understand these topics students may be exposed to an overview of record label positions, (music director, music supervisor, director, contractors, A&R, copyists, marketing, promotion, publicity, etc.), AFM agreements, sessions sheets, sample re-use fees, compilation albums and soundtracks. (Required Prerequisite: IP; Recommended Prerequisite: Agency & Partnership)

NEW MEDIA AND THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY (2-3 credits)

In this course students will examine some of the newest media formats such as cell phones, iPods, digital cinema, video games and the Internet and their impact on traditional systems of media production and distribution. Topics may include the effect of new technology on the value of libraries and catalogues of older media, the impact on film and television, and protection of copyright and intellectual property. Course speakers may include industry representatives and practicing entertainment law attorneys.

PATENTS AND TRADE SECRETS (2 credits)

This advanced course in intellectual property covers topics related to patents and trade secrets.

SPORTS LAW (2-3 credits)

This course will cover selected legal issues in amateur and professional sports including player draft and option systems; labor and employment relations in professional sports; eligibility and discipline issues; agents and player representation; inter-league disputes; buying and moving teams; sex discrimination in sports; and Olympic competition.

TAXATION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (1-2 credits)

This course examines the special tax rules affecting the development of, investment in, and transactions involving copyrights, trademarks, trade names, patents, trade secrets and other forms of intellectual property. The course will discuss the issues that face the creative person (such as an inventor, writer, composer or artist) and those who finance, invest in or use the intellectual property. (Prerequisite: Income Taxation for LL.M. Students.)

TRADEMARKS AND UNFAIR COMPETITION (2 credits)

This advanced course in intellectual property covers topics related to trademarks and unfair competition.

WORKING WITH FILMMAKERS CLINIC (3 credits)  

This course will provide students with the opportunity to work with ultra low budget independent filmmakers. Students will apply the drafting and negotiating skills learned in negotiating and drafting media industry transactions to prepare documents and contracts as may be needed for the development and production of a feature film. Students interview the filmmakers and file the script for copyright, set up the limited liability company, and draft all production contracts, including an employment agreement for the director, actors and crew and contracts for locations and music. Clinic students receive an on-screen credit for each film. Clinic students work closely with supervising faculty and with each other to complete all of the production legal work on 2-5 films each semester.

+-Faculty

Professors are licensed professionals with comprehensive industry experience.

  • Kathy Z. Heller, 
Executive Director, Entertainment Law Program & Associate Professor of the Practice of Law
  • Tom W. Bell
, Professor of Law 
  • George "Judd" Funk, 
Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor of Entertainment Law 
  • Mary Lee Ryan
, Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor of Entertainment Law

Adjunct Faculty

  • Thomas Gray, 
Adjunct Professor of Law 
  • J.D. Sanchez, 
Adjunct Professor of Law 
  • Brian Walton, 
Adjunct Professor of Law

+-Contact Us

For more information, please feel free to contact us.

Chapman University Fowler School of Law
LL.M. Programs
One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
714-628-2635
714-628-2655 fax
llm@chapman.edu
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