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LEGAL WRITING COMPETITION

2019 Essay Topics!
REPRESENTING THE MINOR CLIENT IN ENTERTAINMENT
*The Deadline for the Essay Submission will be on Monday, October 6, 2019 - 11:59pm EST

Question:  Your client, Dora Peterson, age 13, was selected as a series regular in an original series on a major subscription streaming service. She and her mother, Susan Peterson, live in Chicago, Illinois where the show is filmed. Her mother oversaw all the contracts with the talent agents, management agent, the studio, and the production company.

 

Ms. Peterson signed with a talent agency in Chicago, Illinois (“Chicago Agent”). See the Talent Agency Agreement (Attachment1). Ms. Peterson was dissuaded from contacting an attorney for her daughter prior to signing the agreement.  The only commission she thought she was agreeing to pay to the Chicago Agent was 10% of the income from the role they acquired for her daughter. The Chicago Agent informed her that they facilitated her daughter’s role in the initial pilot by contacting a talent agency in Los Angeles (“LA Agent”) and that she also needed to pay the LA Agent a separate fee.  Neither the mother nor her daughter signed any agreements with the LA Agent.  Their only encounter with the LA Agent was one meeting at their office while they were visiting Los Angeles. All communications with the LA Agent went through the Chicago Agent only.

 

Ms. Peterson also signed a business management agreement at the recommendation of her Chicago Agent.  Ms. Peterson is displeased with the lack of services by the management company and neglectful treatment of her daughter and she no longer wants to work with the firm. She also did not fully realize that the management agreement she signed was set for automatic 2-year renewals. Again, Ms. Peterson was dissuaded from contacting an attorney for her daughter prior to signing the agreement.  See the Personal Management Agreement (Attachment 2.)

 

In total, the Chicago Agent took 21% as commission from each payout during the pilot season of the series.  The Chicago Agent informed the mother that it was distributing the 21% commission funds as follows: 7% to the Chicago Talent Agency, 7% to the Los Angeles Talent Agency, and 7% to the business management firm.  Ms. Peterson is not happy about this unwritten arrangement and wants to reduce or eliminate the amount of the commissions.

In addition to working as an actor, Dora Peterson is pursuing a career in the music industry. The Chicago Agent and business manager tried to argue that the clauses of her contracts with them entitles them to a percentage of any monies she makes in the music industry. Ms. Peterson wants to know if she has to pay each of them anything related to her daughter’s music career.

Ms. Peterson now concludes the talent agency contract she signed might not have been in the best interest of her child. How can she reduce or avoid paying the existing agent commissions to the agents and business managers? Ms. Peterson wants to know if she has to pay any of them anything related to her daughter’s music career. Ms. Peterson seeks your advice on how to proceed in the best interests of Dora Peterson.

The following are some authorities that you can access on Lexis or Westlaw to begin your research. You MUST do additional research to find other Primary Case Authority, Relevant Statutes or Secondary Authorities to support your analysis. 

 

Law Reviews:

Davis, Ben. A Matter of Trust for Rising Stars: Protecting Minors’ Earnings in California and New York, 27 J. Juv. L. 69 (2006).

Shannon, John H. and Richard J. Hunter, Jr. Principles of Contract Law Applied to Entertainment and Sports Contracts: A Model for Balancing the Rights of the Industry with Protecting the Interest of Minors, 48 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 1171 (2015).

 

Federal and State Statutes:

Fair Labor Standards Act, Sec. 12:8. Exemptions from the Child Labor Laws – Child Actors or Performers (see also 29 C.F.R. Section 550.2). State Statutes in California and New York contained in the law review articles.