Top ten warnings in the entertainment fields!
by Sue Basko, esq.
People sometimes come to me after they have gotten themselves into a mess. Usually, this happened because they did not get legal advice before signing or agreeing to something.
From their experiences, I have compiled this list:
1) Do not sign a letter of intent with a record label unless you show it to a lawyer first and have seen the underlying contract and agree to it. A letter of intent is a little note that says you will sign a contract with the label.
2) Do not sign a management contract for your band until you have a lawyer tell you what it means.
3) Do not let anyone act as your agent unless they are licensed to do so. In California, agents are licensed by the state and highly regulated. This is to protect you, your career, and your pay. In Illinois, agents must be licensed by the State as theatrical talent agencies.
4) Do not pose for nude or compromising photos if you plan to have any other career. If you do so, never sign a general release.
5) If you are working with someone else writing songs or a script, and you believe you are getting authorship or ownership in the song or script, get this in writing in advance.
6) If you form a band and play paid gigs, have a contract between the band members for how you will make decisions, who manages the band, who gets the money, who owns copyright on which songs, and what happens when a member quits.
7) Independent films almost always lose money, not make money. But they are wonderful anyway.
8) If you work with models or actors on sexual or suggestive photos or videos, make absolutely certain they are at least age 18. Using anyone under 18 is "kiddie porn" and can land you in prison.
9) When someone in Hollywood makes you an offer that is too good to be true, it means they want your money or to have sex with you -- or both.
10) If you have a "get rich" scheme, make sure before you begin that it does not violate anyone's copyright or right to privacy or publicity. Are you using someone else's music? Using photos of a famous person? Borrowing pictures or words off the internet? Get legal advice before you sink time and money into your plans.