Sidley has a long tradition of helping media and entertainment clients navigate the legal and business complexities of content creation, aggregation, distribution and disposition. Our lawyers, strategically located in industry hubs such as Century City, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, New York, London, mainland China and Hong Kong, assist with significant M&A transactions, financings, cutting-edge distribution deals, tax matters, high-profile litigations, restructurings and regulatory matters, including before the FCC, the DOJ, the FTC and other supervisory agencies throughout the world.
“The team is fantastic…Their industry expertise, responsiveness and general understanding of the issues that we face as a company are unparalleled.”
Client quoted in Chambers USA 2020
We represent a broad spectrum of domestic and international clients in the media space, such as financial and strategic buyers, financiers, major studios and independent production companies, television networks, studios and production companies, digital aggregators and distributors, technology companies, music companies, and interactive and social media companies.
We make it a point to understand our clients and their businesses and to gather deep market and deal intelligence. In short, we bring value to our clients by being more than just legal advisors. Specific areas of our exceptional market, deal, business and legal experience include the following:
- Global finance leader. Our lawyers have represented lenders, investors and borrowers in a wide variety of financing transactions, as well as other transactions involving the financing of intellectual property royalties and revenue streams. As a recognized leader in the area of film finance and financings involving television and music revenues, we have represented commercial banks, private equity funds, hedge funds, family offices and high-net worth individuals as senior lenders, mezzanine lenders and equity investors. Our experience includes slate financing transactions, single picture financings, library and other content acquisition financings, ultimates financings, P&A financings, “gap” and “super gap” financings, and co-financing arrangements with major studios and other parties. We represent sponsor clients in “leveraging” their media related equity investments. We represent various parties involved in troubled credits, including in- and out-of-court restructurings and workouts, Section 363 sales and acquisitions, committee representations and debtor-in-possession and plan confirmation exit facilities, and we guide our borrower clients through the structuring and negotiation of working capital revolving and term facilities, leveraged acquisition and recapitalization facilities and spinoff financings.
- High-end and premium middle-market M&A transactional work. We have been involved in transactions that have altered the shape of the media and entertainment landscape. Our lawyers represent strategic and financial media and entertainment buyers in all forms of M&A transactions, both public and private, ranging in size from a few million dollars to more than a billion. We also represent sellers in media and entertainment focused M&A transactions, including closely held family businesses, portfolio companies and strategic combinations. Our lawyers work closely with clients in analyzing troubled media asset opportunities and represent buyers in 363 transactions and debt holders in take-control transactions. We support our media focused practitioners with a full suite of supporting legal disciplines, including tax, employment, benefits, intellectual property, antitrust and capital markets.
- Digital media experience. We are well-versed in the legal issues spawned by the digital age. Our team includes some of the most highly regarded technology lawyers in California who negotiate all aspects of transactions related to digital media, as well as litigators who regularly handle cases arising out of digital content. We have particular experience with digital media distribution deals with leaders in the movie, television, music and publishing industries; development and distribution deals for massively-multiplayer online and other video games; licensing deals for the technologies employed to enable or facilitate the distribution of digital media; and development and licensing deals for the consumer platforms through which digital media is accessed.
- Extensive litigation capabilities. Our lawyers aggressively advocate on behalf of our clients in complex, mission critical disputes. We provide in-depth, pre-litigation guidance and endeavor to balance business objectives with dispute resolution opportunities. Where litigation is called for or otherwise arises, we handle cases on behalf of our plaintiff and defendant clients at both the trial and appellate level, including several cases before the Supreme Court. This includes matters involving “bet the company” breach of contract and tort matters, profit participation and accounting practices disputes, copyright and theft of idea, trademark infringement, patent litigation, trade secrets and unfair competition, libel and First Amendment cases. We have successfully defended more than 100 defamation and privacy-related cases.
- Regulatory agency insight. We are especially well-suited to handle regulatory matters worldwide on behalf of our media and entertainment clients. Our lawyers have substantial experience with virtually every subject investigated by the FCC, FTC and other governmental agencies worldwide, including content regulation, e-commerce and online marketing laws and policies, privacy matters and data security and breaches, false advertising, equal access, net neutrality, ownership restrictions, political broadcasting, Equal Employment Opportunity requirements, children’s television, copyright and ICANN rules.
- Mass media acumen. Members of Sidley’s media and entertainment group handle a wide range of litigation and regulatory issues in connection with federal, state and municipal regulation of out-of-home (OOH) signage. We represent one of the world’s largest OOH companies, as well as industry coalitions and municipalities, in an array of sign-related matters. In addition, we defend OOH advertisers’ constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of contract, just compensation and due process. Our lawyers have successfully challenged unconstitutional municipal sign regulations, opposed unlawful taxation of outdoor signage and defended clients’ property rights. Through litigation and regulatory engagement, we secure and defend clients’ rights to deploy digital billboard technologies in numerous jurisdictions. Our team also collaborates with lawyers from the firm’s other practice groups to provide solutions to intellectual property, data privacy and other cutting-edge legal issues faced by today’s OOH media companies.
Recognition for our lawyers
Sidley’s strong advocacy on behalf of our media and entertainment clients has earned our lawyers acknowledgement in numerous industry publications and legal directories, including U.S. News – Best Lawyers, Chambers USA, The Legal 500 and Benchmark Litigation. Members of our team have been named a “Top 100 Power Lawyer” on numerous occasions by The Hollywood Reporter, as “Hollywood Dealmakers” and Legal Impact Report honorees on numerous occasions by Variety magazine, and a top 50 entertainment lawyer by the Daily Journal. In 2016, The Recorder recognized Sidley as the Entertainment Litigation Department of the Year for the firm’s commitment to delivering “exceptional results on its clients’ most critical and challenging matters” in California. In 2018, The Deal Awards recognized Sidley as a “Law Firm of the Year” finalist in the Entertainment & Media Dealmakers category.