Arinze Michael – Exploring the Multiple Legal Opportunities in Entertainment Law

Anchor: There is this new trending field of our legal jurisprudence;Media and entertainment Law, may you please help enlighten and educate us on what entertainment/media Law entails including a brief history of same in Nigeria?
Arinze Michael: The Black’s Law Dictionary defines Entertainment Law as: The field of law dealing with the legal and business issues in the entertainment industry (such as film, music and theater) and involving the representation of artists and producers, the negotiation of contract and the protection of intellectual property rights.(2Black’s Law Dictionary, (Bryan A. Garner, 9th Edition, USA: West Publishing Co., 2004) p. 611.)
Entertainment law is the application of the entire legal service to the entertainment industry. That is the application of contract, corporate, finance, torts, bankruptcy law, immigration, securities law, right to privacy, tax law, insurance law, employment and labor law and intellectual property law principles to the interactions between players in the entertainment industry. Entertainment industry consists majorly of film, television, radio, fashion, and print. These segments include movies, TV shows, radio shows, news, music, newspapers, magazines, and books.
It follows that Entertainment Law goes beyond Intellectual property. It is the entirety of legal services to the entertainment industry. Its scope of coverage extends to Fashion Law, hospitality, events management among others. The legal industry is still in its incipient stage.
Anchor: If variety is the spice of life, how spicy is this practice area and as a law student, why do I need to venture into this field here and hereafter in practice?
Arinze Michael: As the industry is developing, there is an urgent need for the law to develop in that regard and that is why it is important that this goldmine area is tapped by lawyers as soon as possible.
Anchor: It seems this is a wide untapped field. What are the varieties(categories) of media/entertainment law that needs the attention of legal practitioners in Nigeria; Sir, what is the comparative value of media/entertainment lawyers to the entertainment industry alongside it’s contribution to the Nation’s G.D.P?
Arinze Michael: The categories of Media / Entertainment law that needs attention has been aforementioned, let me proceed to state it’s comparitive value to the nation’s GDP.  Before now, the entertainment industry struggled to generate the desired interest that will attract investors. However, the increasing demand of Nigerian entertainment content in music, movies, creative arts, publishing or stage events is gaining market visibility and global recognition. Interest to invest in entertainers and the entertainment industry is beginning to grow. The creative sector contributes N1.35 trillion to the country’s GDP despite the fact that most businesses in the sector are built on personal business model with a growing number of private individuals beginning to form firm alliance.
At the Creative Nigerian Summit 2017, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun acknowledged the potential of the industry. In her remark, she said that the industry is already captured at 1.42 per cent of the current GDP and that government is willing to provide all necessary support to help the industry achieve its full potential. The role of the Nigerian entertainment industry has increasingly become important as it generates employment and serves as a tool for poverty alleviation. All segments of the entertainment industry in Nigeria are growing into multibillion-dollar businesses. The Nigerian Film & Video Censors Board estimated that Nollywood employs about 1 million people in Nigeria and the board receives the production of about 2,500 movies annually.It is pertinent to note that great investment opportunities exist in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Internet penetration in Nigeria will continue to support and become a major driver of growth for the sector.
In 2015, the Nigeria’s media and entertainment industry was estimated to be worth $4billion though, significantly lower than the United States of America that is put at $598billion. Nevertheless, progress was being recorded as Nigeria was next to India, which had an estimated sector size worth $17billion. The Nigerian entertainment industry was expected to grow above $8billion by 2019. However, in 2017, the depreciation of the naira means that Nigerian Entertainment and Media revenue expressed in US dollars is somewhat depressed compared with 2015 figures. Nonetheless, the market rose  to US$3.6 billion in 2016, and will increase at a 12.2% Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGRs) in 2021, reaching US$6.4 billion in that year. In terms of total Entertainment and Media revenue, Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing countries of those considered.
The most prevalent crime or issue in the entertainment industry in Nigeria is piracy, which has become a topic of concern that requires urgent attention. Piracy is the unauthorized use or reproduction of a person’s work usually associated with intellectual property. Despite the fact that laws and regulatory agencies have been put in place to protect intellectual property, piracy is still  on the increase. This continued practice has occasioned great financial set back to the industry and the nation at large. The creator of a work makes little or no cash compared to the amount invested in the project whereas some person in the popular Alaba international Market makes good money from selling thousand(s) of pirated copies.
Though not a crime, another issue in media/ entertainment law is lack of registration of intellectual property. A lot of owners of intellectual property fail to register their works which attracts grave consequences. For example,  Section 3 of the trade marks Act provides for the effect of non- registration of a trade mark. It presupposes that an unregistered trademark owner cannot institute a proceeding to prevent or recover damages on infringement save for passing off.
There also appears to be issues arising from contracts signed by parties in the industry. Most often than not, this happens because the actors and actresses sign these contracts at a point where they are hungry for fame and have little or no cash, which makes them vulnerable to the managers who seem to hold their future. The agreements are usually drafted to exploit these upcoming players in the entertainment industry.
My final words to the participants of this session is that this area of law is fast developing and there is an urgent need for lawyers to develop fast in this regard as a great treasure trove. The media/ Entertainment law is a goldmine awaiting exploration. The decision is wholly yours.
MICHAEL ARINZE is a seasoned advocate and a prolific writer. He is excellence personified. An avid reader and dexterous researcher. Picture perfect of a trailblazing Leader. Beautified in greatness sculptured after no model. Great yet humble, kind and gentle. An ardent lover of God and Mankind. Arinze is the Director of Public Prosecutions  SUG, the Chief Administrative Officer of National LAWSAN Senate and the Lord Advocate of Lex Fori Chambers of Justice.
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