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Ride Like a Girl is the inspirational true story of Michelle Payne’s journey through adversity to become the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. Overcoming odds of 100 to 1 at the Melbourne Cup, a male dominated industry, personal tragedy and physical injuries, Michelle’s story is a timely reminder that to act ‘like a girl’ can mean to act with daring and defiance. We are proud to have provided production legal on the Australian firm. View trailer here.

Experts in Entertainment Law

marshalls+dent+wilmoth lawyers is Australia’s oldest and most experienced entertainment law practice with over 45 years of service in the film and television industry.

Bryce Menzies has headed up our media and entertainment department, advising on over 500 film and television projects during his career to date, alongside memberships on the boards of numerous industry bodies including Film Victoria, the Melbourne International Film Festival and Circus Oz.

Expertise

Our expertise includes:

  • Production Legals
  • Intellectual Property
  • Financing & Distribution
  • General Commercial

We represent producers and other entertainment practitioners in all facets of the industry, and has extensive dealings and experience with government funding bodies, independent and established producers and production companies, the major and mini-major United States studios, the “Big Four” talent agencies, international and domestic streaming platforms, sales agents and distributors worldwide.

Services

Our services include providing legal advice on:

  • All elements of feature film, television and documentary financing and production
  • International and domestic co-production agreements
  • International and domestic distribution and acquisition agreements
  • Chain of title and underlying rights agreements
  • Agency, talent and crew agreements
  • Clearance and defamation

Our experienced team of entertainment lawyers provide practical solutions that help artists realise their vision and maximise the commercial potential of their intellectual property.

Learn more about our entertainment law services in Melbourne.

Entertainment Law FAQs

What is copyright and how do I protect it?

Copyright is a bundle of transferable rights that exist in an original creation.

These rights are reserved exclusively to the owner and include the right to reproduce (copy), publish, perform, communicate and adapt.

It is important to note that in order to receive the benefit of copyright protection, the works must be ‘substantial’ and unless your work is considered a “subject matter other than work”, it must also be ‘original’.

Ideas and single words or titles are often not substantial or original enough to warrant copyright protection. Rather, it is the material expression of the idea which will be protected by copyright.

In Australia, copyright protection is automatic once it has been recorded in material form (i.e. recorded on tape, written down in a notebook and/or photographed). There is no need for formal registration.

Does copyright last forever?

No.

In Australia, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.

However, this will differ if the work was not published prior to the author’s death.

Upon expiration of copyright protection, works become what is known as the “public domain”.

Someone is using my copyrighted work but they have only copied 5% of it. Is there anything I can do?

Possibly.

Copyright infringement is subject to a qualitative test, and not a quantitative test.

Therefore, in order to determine whether your copyright has been infringed, you should consider whether a substantial part of your work has been copied.

A part will be substantial if is forms a crucial or essential part of the work.

I’d like to make a film based on a book I read. What are my next steps?

Depending on what the book is about, chances are that you will need to obtain the author (and/or their publisher’s) permission.

An option and deed of assignment is the most common agreement to adopt once the commercial deal points have been agreed.

What is “Chain of Title” and how can I get a legal opinion for it?

In the film and television industries, “Chain of Title” refers to the rights in the underlying work (i.e. your script and any works that your script is based on) that the producer needs in order to develop and produce a film or television series.

Generally, government bodies and investors in the film or series will require a legal opinion on the chain of title. In order to give an opinion, you will need to provide your lawyer with all the agreements you have in place that relate to the underlying work for the film (e.g. Option and Deed of Assignment, Writer’s Agreements, Development Agreements, and any other agreements that relate to or transfer a share of copyright in the work on which the film or series is to be based).

Your lawyer will not be able to provide an opinion until it is satisfied that all the necessary agreements are in place and owned by the correct owner.

Film

From classics like Malcom, Muriel’s Wedding and Shine, to box office behemoths like Lion, Red Dog and The Invisible Man, to indie hits like Two Hands, The Babadook and The Sapphires, marshalls+dent+wilmoth’s dedicated entertainment lawyers have worked on some of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed Australian films of all time.

See below some of the films our team has worked on over the years.

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TV

From groundbreaking TV dramas the like Cleverman (SBS) and Mr Inbetween (fx) and The End (Fox Showcase) to comedy gold Squinters (ABC) and Rostered On (Seven/Netflix), to family favourites Kitty Is Not A Cat (Seven), Dr Blake (ABC), and acclaimed documentaries such as The Cult of the Family (ABC) and Brock: Over The Top (ABC/Universal), the entertainment team has assisted with some of Australia’s most prolific TV producers and production companies realise their vision, providing expert legal advice on many of Australia’s most watched television shows. Look out for upcoming TV series New Gold Mountain (SBS) and The Newsreader (ABC).  

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Trailers

marshalls+dent+wilmoth has a strong association with the film industry dating back to the mid 1970s when Bill Marshall provided legal advice during the first golden era of Australian cinema.

Below is a list of some of the feature films and documentaries marshalls+dent+wilmoth have been involved with most recently.

Entertainment Law Articles

Putting a dent in the AACTA Awards
Putting a dent in the AACTA Awards
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Australian feature film I Am Woman will have its world premiere at TIFF
Australian feature film I Am Woman will have its world premiere at TIFF
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H is for Happiness wins $100,000 CinefestOZ prize
H is for Happiness wins $100,000 CinefestOZ prize
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Staying in? Check out our top picks from streaming services in Australia
Staying in? Check out our top picks from streaming services in Australia
Read more