Sunday, April 24, 2011

Getting Legal Advice From An Entertainment Industry Expert

We Didn't Start the Fire

We all have questions about legal issues that affect our industry. The fact is that as society and technology change, so do the laws that are established to protect our work and us, as individuals. I always get excited (and admittedly, a little obsessed) when I come across a new source of information that particularly addresses my interests. Discovering the Entertainment Law Update Podcast ( and Gordon Firemark’s website ( have certainly fueled that obsession over the past couple weeks.

Gordon P. Firemark
Gordon P. Firemark, Esq. is a fascinating entertainment attorney, author and teacher. He has a background in television, film and theatre and is CEO of his own production company, Fierce Theatricals. He is actively involved with the Los Angeles Stage Alliance and The Academy for New Musical Theatre where he serves on the Boards of Governors. Firemark is a frequent lecturer, as well as stage producer and investor. In his free time, he shares his knowledge and expertise through his expert blog and entertainment law podcast.

I’ve found special connection to Mr. Firemark because his career was greatly influenced as a young student, by an educator that encouraged him to channel his energy through involvement in technical theatre. As the auditorium manager and technical director in a public high school, I’ve had the honor and privilege of witnessing what happens to students that find their calling, discovering a whole new world where their creativity and abilities are unleashed. I strongly believe that it was this gift, given to Firemark at a young age that inspires him to share his wealth of knowledge with the masses.

Firemark’s Entertainment Law Update Podcast (ELUP), which he co-hosts with Texas attorney, Tamera H. Bennett, is an excellent resource of information regarding entertainment law. Together they discuss and review current disputes and court decisions that have profound effects on the ever-changing issues in the entertainment industry. The particular focus of the podcast deals with copyright and intellectual property law.

What I find most stimulating about these discussions, is the way Bennett and Firemark break down the issues and court decisions in plain English, discussing their current and future effects on the industry. One particular area of entertainment law that they discuss frequently, is the right of publicity. Briefly, it is defined as “the right to control the commercial use of one’s identity” ( It is a rapidly changing area of law that is complicated by differing state laws and court rulings on the matter. As is the case with intellectual property law, the right of publicity is rapidly evolving due to the way we entertain and communicate through the many advancements in technology over the past twenty years. The discussions on the ELUP help decipher court decisions and appeals of cases, as the courts try to uniformly protect and uphold the law as it applies in the varies jurisdictions.

In the most recent ELUP episode (episode 19), there is a fascinating discussion about the case, Golan v. Holder, which will be heard by the Supreme Court in an upcoming session. The main issue involves reinstatement of copyrights for foreign works that had become part of the public domain. Some of the works included are those by Picasso, Stravinsky and films and books by Alfred Hitchcock and Virginia Woolfe. The show notes for the episode provide links to articles and court documents regarding this and other cases discussed on the podcast.

I also highly recommend Gordon Firemark’s website, The Theatre Lawyer ( You’ll find excellent discussions and reviews of legal issues unique to the theatrical world as well as some pertinent question and answer discussions. These are excellent resources to visit, time and again, to stay current on legal issues that affect theatre and the entertainment industry as a whole.


Firemark, Gordon. (2010, September 29). Entertainment Law Update Podcast Episode 14. Mockumentaries, Downloads, Licenses, and First Sales. Retrieved April 21, 2011 from

Website & Images: Entertainment Law Update Podcast.

Website: The Theatre Lawyer.

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