Entertainment generally entails any activity designed to create amusement, relaxation, fun and pleasure. Entertainment law is not a single legal topic, it is characterized with generally applicable principles which boarders on variety of matters like intellectual property, contract, finance, tax, securities, business associations and labour arrangements. To be a successful player in the entertainment industry, requisite knowledge in the aforementioned areas is sacrosanct. The entertainment industry is perceived to be one of the fastest growing industries in Cameroon. The role of law in the regulation and standardization of this fast growing industry in Cameroon cannot be exaggerated
ROLE OF LEGAL PRACTITIONER IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
There are specific functions in the industry that require the expertise of a legal practitioner viz:
- Contractual advice to clients, most clients enter into contracts without understanding the depth of it. Hence the need for a lawyer to advice/ guide you on the legal consequences.
- Drafting and negotiating development and production contracts such as writer agreements, talent agreements and recording agreements.
- Facilitating and negotiating distribution deals for an entertainment project.
- Working on financing agreements for sponsorship, bank loans, co-production investments, grants, and other types of investments.
- Preparing form agreements for clients such as appearance releases, location releases and license agreements.
- Reviewing contracts and other legal documents to analyze right issues or other business or legal questions.
- Resolving contract disputes through alternative dispute resolution (Mediation, conciliation or arbitration).
- Ensure the client is in compliance with the regulation agencies in the field they operate.
- Institute an action in court for copyright infringement, trademark infringement breach of contract and other related matters.
- Attend meetings on behalf of the client where necessary.
- Assist the client with real estate deals e.g. carrying out due diligence on a proposed property to ensure the property is free from encumbrances.
CHALLENGES IN THE CAMEROON ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
- The most prevalent issue in the entertainment industry in Cameroon is the increase in piracy.
- A lot of owners of intellectual property fail to register their works and an unregistered trademark owner cannot institute a proceeding to prevent or recover damages on infringement.
- There also appears to be issues arising from contracts signed by parties in the industry. Most often than not this happens because the actors and actresses sign this contracts at a point where they are hungry for fame and have little or no cash, which makes them vulnerable to the managers who seem to hold their future. The agreements are usually drafted to exploit these upcoming players in the entertainment industry.
- Furthermore, there is this notion that hiring a lawyer at the early stage of their pursuit is too expensive and unnecessary, they however fail to realize that the consequence of entering into contracts they do not completely understand out weighs the cost of hiring a lawyer. Lack of access to financing of the entertainment industry has been a major drawback for the industry.
In conclusion, the entertainment industry is emerging and still in its formation stage in Cameroon and we recommend that awareness campaigns should be held frequently on the importance of intellectual property. Players in the entertainment industry need to come to terms with the fact that the role of a legal practitioner in the entertainment industry is pivotal at every stage.
Article By: Barr Mafany victor Ngando
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.