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Entertainment Law

Lawyers For The Legal Matters Of Entertainment Industry

Feature films, movies, motion pictures, television – whatever term you use, we love it and we have 30 years of experience to prove it.

marshalls+dent+wilmoth has been advising the entertainment industry since the mid 1970s when Bill Marshall provided invaluable legal advice to filmmakers during the first golden era of modern Australian cinema. Since 2003 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.

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

See our recent trailers below, or view all our 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.

Our entertainment lawyers provide expert advice on:

  • Film, Television and Performing Arts Law
  • Music Industry Law
  • Clearance Advice

Additional services include:

  • advising on defamation and privacy rights matters
  • advising on visual arts and design
  • advising on general intellectual property issues
  • drafting contracts and negotiating terms
  • advising on financing options and business structures
  • advising on licensing and royalty agreements
  • litigating disputes
  • advising literary agents and publishers in all media

Film, Television and Performing Arts Law

Our entertainment lawyers are here to support our talented clients every step of the way from the development stage of a project right through to financing, production, marketing, distribution, licensing and the commercialisation of ancillary rights. 

We provide practical, commercial advice and solutions to Australia’s leading entertainment industry practitioners including producers, presenters, venue owners, funding bodies, directors and writers. We also deal extensively with major American and European distributors. 

Our film and television services include legal advice on:

  • financing options, including development and investment agreements
  • financing and obtaining the Australian Producer Offset tax rebate
  • business structures including joint venture, partnership and collaboration agreements
  • option agreements and other underlying rights agreements
  • chain of title issues
  • talent and crew agreements
  • production and post-production matters 
  • co-production agreements
  • distribution agreements
  • music licensing
  • broadcast licensing and regulatory issues
  • union negotiations
  • intellectual property matters
  • clearances

Our performing arts services include legal advice on:

  • production, presentation, co-production and co-presentation agreements
  • licence agreements
  • royalty agreements
  • venue agreements
  • grand rights negotiations 
  • agency and representation agreements
  • business structures including joint ventures, partnerships and collaboration agreements clearances
  • other general intellectual property and performance-related legal matters

Music Industry Law
Our longstanding experience in the music industry allows us to support and guide our clients towards realising their goals, whether they are a young band seeking first-time advice or an internationally recognised ARIA award-winning artist.

We advise all members of the music industry including:

  • recording artists 
  • managers
  • producers 
  • songwriters 
  • record labels 
  • music publishers
  • distributors
  • concert and club promoters

Our lawyers provide practical and up-to-date advice on all aspects of the music industry including:

  • music related agreements
  • copyright matters
  • new technologies
  • business structures for bands
  • partnership agreements

Clearance Advice
The marshalls+dent+wilmoth Entertainment Law department regularly provides thorough and pragmatic clearance advice for film, television, performing arts and transmedia practitioners.

We review in detail:

  • shooting scripts for film and television projects in all formats and genres including feature films, television series (children’s, adult, drama and documentary), telemovies, documentaries and factual programming
  • scripts for text for any projects or performances intended for live, theatrical production or presentation including plays, librettos, burlesque and comedy work 
  • scripts and text for any other work, prior to publication in any format or media including websites, computer and video games and transmedia projects

We then provide comprehensive and practical advice in the form of a report, that sets out and addresses any potential legal issues such as:

  • defamation 
  • breach of copyright 
  • common law tort of passing off 
  • breach of section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law (the old section 52 Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth)) 
  • contravention of applicable broadcaster editorial policies

Our reports contain clear, sensible and realistic suggestions for resolving or mitigating any potential legal issues which we have identified.  Our approach is thorough and pragmatic.
Clearance advice is in addition to our customary services and will be quoted for separately to other legal assistance we may provide.

  • Entertainment Law FAQ
    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?


    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?


    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.

Still unsure? Get in touch with us by making an online enquiry or call us on 9670 5000
For any enquiries, please complete the form below.