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, digital aggregators and distributors, technology companies, music companies, eSports and video game companies, and interactive and social media companies. In the sports sector, we represent sports leagues and teams, investors, international and domestic governing bodies, sports venue owners, athletes, marketing and PR agencies, as well as TV stations, radio stations, and broadcasters, among others.
“Sidley Austin LLP undertakes high-stakes litigation for clients in the media, entertainment and technology sectors. The team is particularly prominent for its representation of record labels and others in the music business, and is also a go-to firm for clients in film and television.”
Chambers USA 2022, California Media & Entertainment: Litigation
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 advisers. Specific areas of our exceptional market, deal, business, and legal experience include the following:
- High-end and premium middle-market M&A transactional work. We have been involved in transactions that have altered the shape of the entertainment, sports, and media landscape. Our lawyers represent strategic and financial entertainment, sports, and media buyers in all forms of M&A transactions, both public and private, ranging in size from tens of millions of dollars to well in excess of a billion. We also represent sellers in entertainment, sports, and media-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 Section 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, insurance, finance, and capital markets.
- 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.
- Sports law. Our multidisciplinary sports practice is comprised of advisers across our global network of offices that allows us to provide legal advice regarding cross-border issues. Sidley’s practice encompasses mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions, regulatory counseling and advocacy (including representation before international and U.S.-based governing bodies), and litigation support with a core focus in the sports, media, entertainment, and consumer sectors. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing buyers and sellers of, and investors in, sports franchises in the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Women’s Soccer League, and many of the European football leagues. We also represent leagues, teams and clubs, athletes, organizers, and a wide range of other entities, including sports venue owners, marketing and PR agencies, TV and radio broadcasters, stations, and investors. Our sports industry clients face a variety of legal issues under intense media scrutiny, including the following:
- hosting of events;
- financing, development, and operation of sports arenas and complexes;
- negotiating media rights contracts;
- health and safety controls;
- antitrust/competition concerns; and
- sporting dispute resolution, mediation, and complex commercial litigation.
- 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 and data privacy lawyers in the world who negotiate all aspects of transactions related to digital media, as well as litigators who regularly handle cases arising out of digital content and data privacy matters. 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 levels, 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, as well as 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 entertainment, sports, and media clients. Our lawyers have substantial experience with virtually every subject investigated by the FCC, FTC, DOJ, 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.
Recognition for our lawyers
Sidley’s strong advocacy on behalf of our entertainment, sports, and media clients has earned our lawyers acknowledgement in numerous industry publications and legal directories, including U.S. News – Best Lawyers, Chambers USA, Daily Journal, The National Law Journal, The Deal, Law360, and Benchmark Litigation. Members of our team have been named to the “Top 100 Power Lawyers” and “Top Dealmakers” lists on numerous occasions by The Hollywood Reporter. Our lawyers have also repeatedly been listed as “Hollywood Dealmakers,” “Legal Impact Report,” and “Variety500” honorees by Variety magazine. They have been recognized on Billboard’s “Top Music Lawyers” list, The National Law Journal's “Sports/Gaming/Entertainment Law Trailblazers” list, and the Daily Journal’s lists of the “Top 50 Entertainment Lawyers” and the “Top 100 Lawyers.” Law360 has also selected our partners as “MVPs” for both “Sports” and “Sports & Betting,” and team members have been named to Sports Business Journal’s list of “Power Players: Sports Lawyers & Outside Counsel.” The Recorder also 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. Finally, The Deal recognized Sidley as a “Law Firm of the Year” finalist in the Entertainment & Media Dealmakers category.