Entertainment and Media Law

Entertainment and Media Law

Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP’s Entertainment and Media Law Practice Group provides unique, insightful and personal guidance to the firm’s creative clients. We are mindful of the fact that developing artists are often distracted by the long and winding road they must travel to transform their passion into a protectable form of art and a successful business. Our attorneys walk this road arm-in-arm with our clients, seeking to empower and protect their creativity and imagination with our analytical, detail-oriented thinking. Whether we are guiding promising new artists through the formation of their first business entity, consulting independent filmmakers on the production of their newest project, or litigating complex business disputes on behalf of clients in courtrooms nationwide, we ensure that our clients know their legal needs are cared for, leaving them to focus on what they do best—create.

Our lawyers provide a full array of services in the film, television, music, theatre, digital media and Internet industries. We represent clients in negotiating and protecting their intellectual property rights, licensing and distributing content, music publishing, merchandising, touring, acquiring and clearing rights, negotiating royalties and resolving disputes. We also take pride in helping our clients negotiate innovative advertising and promotional opportunities to further develop their brand. Whether negotiating recording, management or partnership agreements for our musically inclined clients, or preparing production and distribution agreements for our television producers and filmmakers, our lawyers are proud of the personal relationships they form with our clients.

The Entertainment and Media Law Practice Group also represents clients in the ever-changing and evolving area of on-demand “New Media.” We have assisted clients with issues related to privacy, data security, technology and intellectual property as they relate to various Internet, video game, digital and online multimedia outlets. Our attorneys have assisted clients in the field of mobile, social and digital media, working to protect their interest in user generated content, product placement, sponsorship, rights of publicity, and other areas through the preparation and negotiation of various New Media and technology agreements.

Our lawyers also represent concert promoters and venues specializing in the production of musical and entertainment-related performances.  For these clients, we provide comprehensive consultation and advocacy with respect to a variety of actions, including personal injury and premises liability claims, ordinance compliance, incident investigation and vendor disputes.

While we work hard to avoid litigation on behalf of our clients, when litigation becomes necessary, our lawyers work hand-in-hand with our clients to strategize the most effective and cost-efficient manner by which to resolve often complicated and expensive disputes. We often coordinate with our litigation and dispute resolution colleagues at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP, who are uniquely qualified to advocate on behalf of our clients in the courtroom with respect to complex entertainment-related disputes involving copyright infringement, royalty disputes, trademark claims, breach of contract, defamation and First Amendment claims, advertising injury, Digital Millennium Copyright Act claims, and rights of publicity and privacy. 


May 30, 2023
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Sponsors Lawyers for the Creative Arts' Shindy 2023 Fundraiser
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP is proud to co-sponsor Lawyers for the Creative Arts (LCA)'s fundraiser, "Shindy 2023," on June 8 in Chicago, Illinois.

May 11, 2023
Wahl to Speak at What Up Pitches' WUP It Up 2023
Partner Michelle M. Wahl will speak at What Up Pitches' WUP It Up! Sync Fiesta 2023 on May 12-13 at the historical Davis Theater in Chicago, Illinois.

May 11, 2023
Fardy and Patterson to Attend the International Trademark Association's 2023 Annual Meeting
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP attorneys P. Stephen Fardy and William D. Patterson will attend the International Trademark Association's (INTA) 2023 Annual Meeting on May 16-20 in Singapore.

May 04, 2023
Alasauskas, Kliebhan & McLoughlin Elected to the Lawyers for the Creative Arts Associate Board Executive Committee
Associates Amanda J. Alasauskas, Thomas J. Kliebhan and Mark J. McLoughlin were elected to the 2023-25 Lawyers for the Creative Arts' (LCA) Associate Board Executive Committee.

Chicago, March 28, 2023
McLoughlin to Speak at LAUNCH Music Conference & Festival
Associate Mark J. McLoughlin will speak at the 14th Annual LAUNCH Music Conference and Festival on April 14-17 in Lancaster, PA.

Chicago, March 20, 2023
Becker and O'Toole Peterson Participate as Mentors at SXSW Conference
Partner Jeffrey S. Becker and associate Nicole O'Toole Peterson participated as Music Industry Mentors at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in Austin, Texas, on March 14, 2023. Jeff and Nicole met with artists and industry professionals from all over the globe during the week-long festival.

March 20, 2023
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Hosts Copyright Law Panel for Women in Music Chicago
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP will host a panel, "Copyright Law: What Music Creators Need to Know," for Women in Music Chicago on March 30.

Chicago, 2/17/2022
Patterson Leads Sale of Wordle to New York Times
Patterson Leads Sale of Wordle to New York Times

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Chicago, December 9, 2021
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Welcomes Lateral Associate, New Law School Graduates
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP announces that one lateral attorney and four new law graduates have joined the firm's Chicago office as associates.

Chicago, August 10, 2021
Five Associates Join Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP
They will all practice in the firm's Chicago office.

Chicago, July 27, 2021
Becker Speaks at Lollapalooza University on Chicago Music Scene
The course is designed to offer full immersion in the annual Lollapalooza festival experience and a broad look at the innerworkings of various areas of the music industry.

Chicago, July 16, 2021
Entertainment and Media Law Newsletter: NCAA Allows Student-Athletes to Profit Off Name, Image and Likeness
The newsletter shares more detail on the NCAA's new interim policy that allows student-athletes to monetize their name, image and likeness.

Chicago, May 19, 2021
Becker Speaks on Music Publishing and Mechanical Licensing Collective
Becker and Serona Elton of the MLC will discuss how this new organization changed the way songwriters receive their mechanical royalties,

Chicago, April 12, 2021
Becker Named to Billboard Magazine's Top Music Lawyers List for Third Consecutive Year
According to Billboard, "Over the past tumultuous year, the leading music attorneys chosen for the 2021 edition of Billboard's Top Music Lawyers — nominated by their firms and peers and chosen by our editors — have played an essential role."

Chicago, February 2, 2021
Illinois Super Lawyers Recognizes 25 Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Attorneys
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP announces that 12 attorneys have been named n to the 2021 Illinois Super Lawyers list and 13 have been named to the Illinois Rising Stars list.

Chicago, Lisle, Libertyville, Madison County, January 11, 2021
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Attorneys Named Leading Lawyers, Emerging Lawyers for 2021
Those designated Leading Lawyers were recommended by their peers to be among the top lawyers in Illinois.

Chicago, November 18, 2020
Wahl Speaks at Virtual Music and IP Conference for Law Students
Wahl spoke on a panel with four other speakers.

Chicago, October 20, 2020
Becker Speaks on TikTok at Cardozo Law School
The panel, hosted by Cardozo School of Law's Entertainment Law Society and its Fashion, Arts, Media and Entertainment Law Center, will cover how TikTok has transformed the music business and how partial American ownership could affect entertainment.

Chicago, October 12, 2020
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Sponsors General Counsel Session at ABA Entertainment and Sports Conference
"General Counsels in Entertainment and Sports" will cover key legal issues facing in-house legal departments in the sports and entertainment industries.

Chicago, August 24, 2020
Wahl Discusses "Copyrights Vs. COVID-19" in City of Chicago Cultural Affairs Virtual Program
The artist enrichment class will also showcase speakers on vocal performance, marketing and other topics.

July 27, 2020
Becker Named to Billboard Magazine's Top Music Lawyers List
This prestigious list honors prominent music and entertainment attorneys from around the country. Becker is one of only a few attorneys in the Midwest named to this year's list.

July 13, 2020
Wahl Speaks on Copyright Basics in Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings
Wahl's presentation will instruct how musical performers can address copyright matters, including fair use and compulsory licenses, as well as copyright duration.

June 26, 2020
Becker Speaks on Lawyers for the Creative Arts' Copyright Litigation Panel
"From Student to Master: What You Need to Know About Copyright Litigation" gives volunteer LCA attorneys the chance to learn more about copyright litigation.

June 9, 2020
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Hosts "Concerts From My Couch" Series
"Concerts From My Couch" entertained viewers via Zoom during stay-at-home orders and gave artists an outlet to interact with an audience after being sidelined from touring and performing live.

May 18, 2020
Becker Interviewed on The What Podcast on Force Majeure
The podcast co-host also wrote an article for the Chattanooga Times Free Press featuring Becker's podcast interview.

May 4, 2020
Wahl Hosts Webinar on "Copyright vs. COVID-19" for Women in Music Chicago

April 16, 2020
Becker Quoted in Chicago Tribune on Potential Lollapalooza, Pitchfork Cancellations

April 7, 2020
Chicago Lawyer Magazine Interviews Wahl on City's Expanding Entertainment Legal Market
Wahl tells readers that Chicago's musicians, artists and entertainers are among the most knowledgeable in the industry.

March 24, 2020
Show Canceled? Release Delayed? A Musician's Guide to COVID-19 and "Force Majeure"

March 06, 2020
O'Toole Authors Article on Millennial Lawyers and Technological Competence in DRI Young Lawyers Newsletter
The article appears in the latest issue of "Raising the Bar," newsletter of DRI's Young Lawyers Committee.

February 13, 2020
Wahl Speaks On Women in Sports and Entertainment Law Panel
Wahl spoke along with three fellow female attorneys who work significantly in the sports and entertainment industries.

January 2, 2020
Recent Law School Graduates Join Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP announces that five recent law school graduates have joined the firm's Chicago office as associates.

October 3, 2019
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Sponsors Chicago International Film Festival
Partner Jeffrey S. Becker will be a panelist at Industry Days, the festival's hub for filmmakers and industry professionals to connect, share ideas and be inspired.

September 26, 2019
Illinois Wesleyan University Profiles Becker for Billboard Honor
Becker talked to the university about the career path that led him to representing musicians, producers and songwriters, publishers, record labels and other artists.

August 26, 2019
Becker Named to Billboard Magazine's Top Music Lawyers List
Becker is the only Chicago attorney and one of two Midwest-based attorneys named to this year's list.

August 2, 2019
"Sound of Summer" Empowers Women With All-Female Concert Lineup
GRAMMY®-nominated artist CAM headlined show benefiting nonprofit She Is The Music

July 23, 2019
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Hosts Fifth Annual Charitable Concert "Sound of Summer"
GRAMMY®-nominated artist CAM will headline, with additional performances by Ness Heads and Zealyn. Sound of Summer benefits nonprofit She Is The Music and will feature women in key roles from stage to soundboard.

July 12, 2019
Becker Moderates Panel on "Getting Noticed Through the Noise" at 2112
Industry experts from Spotify, Atlantic Records, Symphonic Distribution and Systemic & Outside the Box Music will be part of the panel.

June 19, 2019
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Hosts Health and Wellness Panel for Women in Music Chicago
Topics include dealing with performance issues and stage fright, finding work/life balance in a creative career, finding and nurturing your inner artist, being authentic, and learning how to care for yourself inside and out.

June 18, 2019
Becker Speaks at 2112 on Indie Vs. Major Labels Panel
Becker and fellow panelists will discuss "Indie Vs. Major Labels" and how artists, managers and consultants can navigate the process of finding the right label.

May 29, 2019
Becker Quoted in The Verge on Metadata in Music Industry
The article explains how lack of synchronization of underlying information tied to a released song or album across industry databases leaves potentially billions unpaid to musicians.

April 22, 2019
Becker Quoted in Pitchfork Regarding "Stranger Things" Rip-off Lawsuit
Becker was quoted in Pitchfork regarding the lawsuit alleging that "Stranger Things" creators ripped off the idea for the television show from a filmmaker.

April 17, 2019
Becker Quoted in The Verge Regarding Artificial Intelligence and Music
The article questions if AI's ability to makes music makes AI an artist, which leads to questions regarding authorship.

April 17, 2019
Wahl Profiled in Chicago Music Guide Article
Wahl was profiled in Chicago Music Guide regarding her her path to music law and her thoughts on the music industry in Chicago and beyond.

April 16, 2019
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Hosts "Leading Ladies of Radio" Panel for Women in Music Chicago
The panel will feature discussion on careers in radio, the radio industry, and advice for women wanting to pursue similar career paths.

April 2, 2019
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Sponsors Ebertfest in Champaign
Ebertfest celebrates films, genres and formats that have been overlooked by distributors, audiences and/or critics.

March 15, 2019
Vulture Quotes Becker on Spotify and Songwriters Battle
Vulture quoted Becker in its article, "Is Spotify Suing Songwriters? The Latest Legal Battle Explained."

March 11, 2019
Becker Quoted in The Verge on U.S. Copyright Royalty Board Ruling
Becker was quoted in The Verge regarding Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon's decision to appeal a U.S. Copyright Royalty Board ruling to increase payouts to songwriters.

January 18, 2019
Becker Authors Law Bulletin Article on Music Modernization Act
The article, "Music Modernization Act looks to bring harmony to copyright disputes," says that "the law represents an essential step in modifying an antiquated Copyright Act, which has failed to keep up with the constantly changing music industry."

January 3, 2019
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Sponsors Panel on Music Modernization Act
"Show me the money! Getting Paid and the Music Modernization Act" will feature a panel of industry experts discussing how artists' music is monetized in the digital era.

December 4, 2018
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Hosts Women in Music Panel on Music Supervision and Licensing
Panelists will cover the ins and outs of music supervision for advertising, television, film and more with top industry experts.

November 28, 2018
Becker Participates in Podcast on Music Monetization Act
In the wake of the The Music Modernization Act passing in the House of Representatives, Jeff and fellow panelists discussed various methods for artists to earn income from their music.

October 30, 2018
Becker Quoted in Variety, The Verge on SoundCloud Premier Artist Contract
Becker was quoted in Variety and The Verge last week regarding SoundCloud and its new Premier program.

October 22, 2018
Patterson Addresses Legal Realities in a Virtual World at 2112 Tech Summit
Patterson led "a discussion of known-knowns and known-unknowns in immersive tech."

September 7, 2018
Law360 Profiles Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP for 2018 Illinois Regional Powerhouse Series
According to the article, "Swanson's attorneys have flexed their muscles in several Illinois courtrooms this year, helping to fend off more than $100 million in claimed damages in several suits rooted in the firm's more institutional areas of practice."

September 5, 2018
Wahl Moderates Women in Music Chicago Panel
Established in 2016, Women in Music Chicago is a chapter of Women in Music that is dedicated to fostering equality in the music industry through the support and advancement of women.

June 5, 2018
Becker Discusses Entertainment Law Topics on WGN Radio Show
Host Karen Conti talked with Becker during her weekly radio program about the technicalities of morality clauses, the Sesame Street lawsuit and copyrights, as well as what it means to be an entertainment lawyer.

June 4, 2018
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Hosts "Sound of Summer" Showcase at House of Blues Chicago
Sound of Summer will feature performances by four client artists: Trapo, Carly and Martina, Todd Kessler, and Hiber.

May 16, 2018
Wahl Lectures on Music Business at Azusa Pacific University
Wahl presented on national and international copyright and trademark, and music revenue and royalty streams.

January 17, 2018
Becker Moderates Panel on Musicians' Guide to the Music Business
"Holy Sh*T….Why Didn’t I Know That!? A Musician’s Guide To The Music Business" is a business boot camp for musicians, offering fundamental steps to ensure the foundation of their business is strong.

December 28, 2017
Becker, Albright Defeat Defamation Lawsuit
The lawsuit was filed by an Olympic swimmer from Hungary against a U.S. swimming commentator and swimming publication.

November 13, 2017
Becker Presents at CIMMcon on Entertainment Law
Founded in 2008, the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to exploring the relationship between music, movies, and visual media.

October 17, 2017
Wahl Gives Entertainment Presentations at DePaul, 2112
Wahl spoke at DePaul University College of Law on "Breaking Into the Entertainment Industry." and at 2112 on "Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings - Copyright Basics."

October 2, 2017
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Celebrates 25th Anniversary, Continued Growth
In recognition of its 25th anniversary year, Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP has made a monthly donation to a non-profit with whom the firm has a strong relationship.

July 26, 2017
"Sound of Summer" Gathered Clients, Friends for Emerging Artist Music Showcase
Also new this year – a portion of ticket sales benefited the Chicago Children's Choir and Lawyers for the Creative Arts.

July 18, 2017
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Hosts “Sound of Summer” Showcase at House of Blues Chicago
"Sound of Summer" Showcase will benefit the Chicago Children’s Choir and Lawyers for the Creative Arts.

June 12, 2017
Becker Named to Recording Academy Board of Governors for Chicago Chapter
The Recording Academy hosts the GRAMMY Awards and offers professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education, and human services programs.

May 9, 2017
Sheean, Wahl Speak at DRI Business Litigation Seminar
Sheean chairs the DRI Business Litigation Committee; Wahl will speak to young lawyers on copyright basics in musical compositions and sound recordings.

May 1, 2017
Becker Speaks on Music Streaming, Technology at Lake FX Summit & Expo
He spoke on "The Effects of Streaming on the Music Industry" and moderated a panel on "The Future of Music & Technology."

February 28, 2017
Wahl Presents on Trademarks for Musicians at 2112
Wahl spoke to attendees on “Making Your Mark in the Music Business – Trademark 101 for Musicians.”

January 5, 2017
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Names Three New Partners
Sullivan practices in Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP’s Lisle office, while Lothson and Wahl practice in the firm’s Chicago office.

October 10, 2016
Entertainment and Media Group Hosts Luncheon with TuneCore, Audium Founder Jeff Price
More than 50 Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP attorneys and guests listened as Price discussed the shift from physical sales and downloads to streaming services, and how that has impacted artist revenues.

July 18, 2016
Becker Speaks at LCA Music Boot Camp on Artist Management
He will offer practical guidance on business and legal consideration in various uses of music.

May 4, 2016
Becker Moderates Music Business Panel at Lake FX Summit + Expo
Becker and three other leaders in music business will share details on building a strong business team.

February 22, 2016
Becker Leads CBA Presentation on Copyright in Music
He will discuss the intricate and evolving role that copyright law plays in the music industry.

January 18, 2016
Becker, Patterson Lead Tech Talk on New Media
The talk is hosted at 2112, Chicago's first incubator focused on the development of entrepreneurs in music, film/video, and creative technology.

October 9, 2015
Law Bulletin Recognizes Becker on "40 Under Forty" List
Becker, referred to in his profile as "an attorney's attorney," was recognized for his practice in Entertainment Law / Commercial Law.

August 24, 2015
IICLE Entertainment Industry CLE Features Becker, Wahl as Speakers
The CLE is titled, "Entertaining the Idea: The Ins and Outs of Representing Entertainment Industry Clients."

July 6, 2015
Becker Authors Law Bulletin Article on Crowdfunding
Becker explains a recent FTC ruling on investor protection in crowdfunding.

June 8, 2015
Becker Joins Dramatists Guild Panel on Musical Theatre Writing
Becker will speak on the business aspects of musical theatre writing at Porchlight Music Theatre in Chicago.

June 2, 2015
Wahl Elected to IDC Board of Directors
Wahl and fellow newly elected directors will be recognized at the IDC's Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon

March 18, 2015
SXSW Panel on Contract Termination Features Becker
Becker and two other panelists will discuss how to terminate a contract.

March 2, 2015
Becker Authors Pair of Law Bulletin Articles on Copyright and the Music Marketplace
The articles discuss several fundamental changes the U.S. Copyright Office recommends for the way in which the American music marketplace operates.

January 15, 2015
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Names New Partners
Six associates were recently named partners, including one in St. Louis.

August 20, 2014
Becker Speaks at Yellow Phone Music Conference
Yellow Phone Music Conference is a four-day gathering of talented artists and music professionals from around the country.

June 17, 2014
Wahl Receives Rising Star Award at IDC Awards Reception
Wahl also received the Meritorious Award and the President's Commendation.

May 23, 2014
Becker Speaks at LCA Music Law CLE Seminar
He will discuss strategies to help clients exit a deal, recover rights and regain control of their music and other property as part of a contract.

January 9, 2014
Becker Authors Law Bulletin Article on Spotify
Becker focused on ways in which Spotify, the on-demand music streaming service, compensates its artists.

December 12, 2013
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Highlights Entertainment and Media Law Practice
The article quotes Partner Brian W. Bell and Practice Group Chair Jeffrey S. Becker.

December 3, 2013
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Launches Entertainment and Media Law Practice Group
While firm attorneys have provided legal services in the film, television, music, theatre, digital media and Internet industries for many years, the new practice group formalizes those efforts.

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