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Leaders in the Evolving World of Media Law
BakerHostetler’s media practice serves clients in all traditional and digital new media from coast-to-coast as a full service, industry-focused practice. Our media industry practice includes noted practitioners who focus on transactions, intellectual property, First Amendment, regulatory, management/licensing, publication counseling and employment as well as First Amendment, intellectual property and business litigation. BakerHostetler’s Media & First Amendment Law practice received a National First-Tier Ranking from
The Best Lawyers in America®
2013 edition (Copyright 2012 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, S.C.).
For more than 90 years, we have been recognized as a leader in providing counsel to companies navigating the complexities of media law. BakerHostetler’s counsel to media companies began with newspapers before there was radio, and we continue to remain at the forefront of media industry issues. With Media Law team members in 11 offices from California to New York, and with a global network of firms often considered “best in class” for their practice areas, we are well-positioned to support our media clients’ business objectives nationally and internationally.
Media Mergers and Acquisitions
Our Media Mergers and Acquisitions team serves as mergers and acquisitions counsel for a wide variety of companies that are focused on both content and distribution. Our lawyers count among their clients some of the industry’s largest and most prominent entertainment, new media, sports organizations and financial sponsors.
For these and other media industry clients, we advise on a full range of transactional issues:
Monetizing and licensing software, trademark, copyright, and patent
Stock and asset acquisitions and divestitures
Content, distribution, production, affiliation agreements and long-term licensing transactions
Diligence reviews relating to “open-source” software
Joint ventures, partnership arrangements and strategic alliances
Our Media Litigation team strives to partner with our clients – understanding their industry, competitive pressures, potential areas of exposure and their unique business objectives. Our close and long-standing relationships with media industry leaders, and our practical knowledge of the issues facing the industry, together enable BakerHostetler to effectively advise and represent clients in legal disputes as the business of media rapidly changes.
We advise business owners, executives and corporate counsel on litigation that can impact their company's commercial practices, bottom line and, in some cases, continued existence. Our interdisciplinary approach to commercial disputes enables us to address content, contract, corporate governance, financial, intellectual property, construction, environmental, real estate, insurance and tax issues as business concerns, not just elements of trial strategy. We effectively settle cases whenever appropriate and possible, but we are trial lawyers who aggressively take cases to trial.
Our media litigation and counseling expertise extends to government investigations and criminal and regulatory litigation. Our White Collar and Corporate Investigations team is well-versed in negotiating the complex issues surrounding parallel civil enforcement proceedings and the collateral consequences a client may be exposed to in private litigation. Our guidance draws upon and reflects the combined strength of the firm's nationally recognized practice teams in numerous potentially related areas, including antitrust, securities regulation and enforcement, class action litigation and tax.
First Amendment Law
BakerHostetler is particularly well-known for developing First Amendment law for media companies and the journalists and writers who work for them. As First Amendment law has evolved—sometimes explosively, sometimes glacially—we have been at the forefront in shaping the law both in the United States and abroad.
Our team has helped shape the law of libel and privacy through winning hundreds of cases on summary judgment, at trial or on appeal. In addition, the firm was among the first to question whether the special vernacular and content of the Internet should be governed by the same law that controls language in traditional media.
BakerHostetler Media Law practice leader, Bruce Sanford, authored a leading treatise on libel and privacy law that is relied upon by media lawyers and courts throughout the country. In addition, he wrote the critically-acclaimed best-selling trade book,
Don't Shoot the Messenger: How Our Growing Hatred of the Media Threatens Free Speech for All of Us,
on public attitudes toward the media.
We also represent media clients in matters related to civil rights, news-gathering rights, reporters’ privilege, copyright, securities and indecency. And we provide counsel and vetting services for books on topics ranging from politics to pop culture.
Our lawyers advise media clients on FCC regulatory matters related to licensing, facilities modifications, programming and acquisitions. We also offer guidance on complex licensing agreements, copyright protection and intellectual property.
Media Intellectual Property
Beginning in the 1970s, BakerHostetler was a pioneer in strategies to help owners of copyrighted and syndicated cartoon characters and comic strips protect their intellectual property from unauthorized use and duplication.
Convinced that such activities violated our clients’ rights, deprived them of valuable syndication fees and diluted their product quality, our lawyers undertook some of the first-ever international licensing efforts for syndicated characters. We launched a major effort to make retailers pay for use of our clients’ characters, using the threat of litigation to stop them from buying counterfeits. Our work with studios, syndicators and other organizations (such as Major League Baseball Properties) continues today, and is part an extensive licensing and copyright practice.
We maintain our clients’ copyrights in all forms of expression, such as design drawings, publications, artwork, music, film, software, advertising, Web site content and other copyrightable subject matter.
Our lawyers also excel at complex licensing, joint development, “work for hire” and international portfolio acquisition agreements. As part of this practice we develop such specialized business arrangements as restricted use agreements, software licenses, security and escrow agreements, recording agreements, film production pacts, and all forms of permission and agreements and releases.
Employment and Labor
BakerHostetler provides advice and counsel to media clients on the full array of employment law issues.
Our team routinely represents media clients in litigation involving discrimination, wage and hour, breach of contract, wrongful discharge, defamation, ERISA, OSHA, class actions, covenants not to compete, trade secret, executive compensation and whistleblower-related claims, including whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
We help our media industry clients avoid litigation, if that is their goal, but when called to proceed with litigation, we take advantage of our team’s significant trial experience and success. Further, our lawyers defend media clients at every stage in employment class action matters, particularly with regard to wage and hour claims.
Our national Noncompete and Trade Secrets team represents media clients facing such issues as: executive employment matters; negotiating employment and severance agreement for executives; counseling clients with regard to employee transfer situations; litigating issues related to faithless employees and fiduciary duty claims.
On the labor relations front, our attorneys also have represented media industry clients in a variety of labor-related issues, including disputes, arbitrations, contract negotiations, litigation, administrative discrimination claims, union organizational drives and union avoidance campaigns.
In addition, we advise our media clients as they navigate the massive restructuring of their labor contracts to maintain profitable operations during times of shifting technology, advertising and circulation.
Bruce W. Sanford
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© 2013 Baker & Hostetler LLP