The most common interpretation of media law relates to the entertainment industry. In this sense, “media” applies to several types of intellectual property, such as music, photos, and video. Managing rights to various forms of media, protecting one’s own IP and being sure not to illegally use – or not get caught infringing on – another person or company’s IP often gets a lot of attention from companies because of the vast sums of money that can be made or lost based on how effectively they interact with IP. Part of this effectiveness depends on having strong and enforceable contracts and legal documents to control interactions with clients and customers, which makes media lawyers that understand the specific business and its implicit IP risks very valuable.
Another meaning of media law relates to news media and journalism. The most common legal issues involve copyright infringement, slander, and anything concerning the ramifications of what reporters write or say. These issues tend to be relatively simple compared to other, more technologically involved legal problems that can arise and call for a media attorney’s help. Nonetheless, preparing for them and dealing with them requires a keen understanding of the industry, the related laws, and the specific court system in which legal decisions would be made.
A more complicated type of problem that a news organization could have that would make a media lawyer necessary involves the use of new media and social media platforms. These platforms create the opportunity for off-the-cuff comments that might expose employers to expensive litigation. They also enable different forms of communication and publicity interactions with potential customers. These create more situations where the right media attorney may end up being necessary to ensure that they company’s employees, strategies, and actions on these platforms don’t break FTC regulations or increase its exposure to litigation.
These are just the basic concerns with each of these areas of media law that a media attorney would be able to handle. The issues get more complex with more involved business goals and strategies, and the importance of a media lawyer increase with this complexity.