Munger, Tolles & Olson is a long-time trusted advisor to leading entertainment and media companies. The firm has built its reputation over decades by successfully representing startup and established entertainment firms in copyright, antitrust, commercial litigation, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, labor and employment matters and material business agreements.
Our lawyers are frequently showcased in leading entertainment and legal publications and rankings, including The Hollywood Reporter, Law360, Chambers USA, Daily Journal, and The American Lawyer, among others. In addition, the firm as a whole is a recognized leader in representing entertainment and media clients as demonstrated by a top-tier ranking in Media & Entertainment by Chambers USA, and by our inclusion in Law360’s Best Firms of 2011 in both Intellectual Property and Media & Entertainment.
Firm clients include all six of the major motion picture studios; all four of the major recorded music companies; the trade associations for both industries (the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America); and many others.
Attorneys at Munger Tolles work on behalf of studios, record labels, media outlets, and other companies in all manner of litigation. In bet-the-company cases, other high-stakes litigation, and more routine matters, our litigators possess a sophisticated understanding of the law, a reputation for efficiency, and a successful track record in and out of the courtroom.
Some of our experience includes representing:
- ABC in defeating an effort by CBS to enjoin the reality show “The Glass House” based on allegations of copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets.
- dick clark productions and Red Zone Capital in obtaining a trial victory in a contract dispute with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Following a bench trial, our clients maintained the right to continue producing and distributing the Golden Globe Awards Show.
- Warner Bros. in its widely publicized dispute with actor Charlie Sheen over his termination from the television program “Two and a Half Men.”
- Playdom (part of the Disney Interactive Media Group), Electronic Arts, and Vostu (world’s largest maker of online social games in Portuguese) in copyright litigation against Zynga.
Munger Tolles plays a leading role in the most innovative and novel disputes over copyright and trademark protections. Our intellectual property work includes representing:
- Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Group, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group in gaining a permanent injunction to shut down one of the most pervasive online file-copying services — LimeWire — and obtained a $105 million settlement in the midst of a damages trial.
- For six major motion picture studio members of the Motion Picture Association of America, Munger Tolles has successfully stopped piracy devices and services at their inception—obtaining permanent injunctions against RealNetworks’ “RealDVD” device for copying DVDs, and, most recently, Zediva’s unauthorized transmission service.
- Aftermath Records in litigation claiming copyright infringement based on the distribution of Eminem downloads through iTunes.
- Universal Music Group (UMG) in copyright infringement litigation alleging that Bertelsmann and Hummer Winblad Venture Partners were secondarily liable for mass infringement occurring through the Napster file-sharing service.
- Vostu, Brazil’s largest online social gaming company, in defending against copyright litigation brought by Zynga in the United States and Brazil over Zynga’s most popular social games.
Clients utilize Munger Tolles attorneys for some of their most significant mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, joint ventures and other corporate transactions. In addition, many well-known financial institutions, studios, entertainment companies, media entities, and networks turn to the firm for its high-caliber work. For example, the firm represented:
- UMG in its acquisition of EMI’s recorded music division, its acquisition of Univision Music Group, and the formation of VEVO, among other significant matters.
- Hugh Hefner in a deal to take Playboy Enterprises, Inc. private.
- The Yucaipa Companies in its acquisition of an interest in Relativity Media.
- The Tornante Company in its acquisition of The Topps Company, formation of Vuguru, and other significant matters.
- The Topps Company in its acquisition of GMG Lifestyle Entertainment and general corporate matters
- The Motion Picture and Television Fund in matters ranging from strategic transactions to day-to-day counseling.
- William Morris Agency in its merger with The Endeavor Agency, which created one of the largest full-service talent agencies in Hollywood.
- The House of Blues in the sale and leaseback of two of its amphitheaters to Live Nation.
The firm’s stellar reputation in antitrust matters is based on our oft-recognized ability to generate positive results for our clients. Our track record attracts clients seeking advice and assistance with mergers and acquisitions, license agreements, distribution issues, compliance programs, trade association activities, and others.
Munger Tolles has represented the following entertainment industry clients in such important antitrust matters as:
- Fox Entertainment Group in a class action with other cable programmers and distributors challenging the “tiering” or bundling of channels in purported violation of the Sherman Act. We were successful in convincing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to affirm a dismissal.
- UMG in its acquisitions of BMG Music Publishing and of Univision’s music labels in connection with the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission review and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
- Universal Pictures against charges of price-fixing among major motion picture studios with respect to compensation of talent, and in a federal antitrust challenge to the major studios’ Internet joint venture, Movielink.
Labor and Employment
Labor and employment issues within the entertainment industry can be complicated due to contracts, unions, guilds, and more, which is why studios, labels, and production companies regularly turn to Munger Tolles’ labor and employment team. Our attorneys have significant experience handling contract negotiations, wrongful termination, harassment and discrimination actions, wage and hour disputes, trade secret issues, employee mobility issues and other employment-related problems.
In addition to the Warner Bros./Charlie Sheen dispute noted above, matters which we have recently handled for entertainment industry clients include representing:
- Warner Home Video in obtaining a summary judgment dismissing alleged breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of fair dealing claims brought by the reported “father of the DVD.” He alleged that he was owed a $25-$100 million bonus for his critical role in the development and success of the DVD format.
- NBC Universal in long-running class action litigation brought by more than 160 television screenwriters against every major studio, network and talent agency alleging a pattern and practice of age discrimination in the television industry.