Media and Entertainment
Litigation, Investigations and Strategic ResponseWhen high-stakes challenges break, media and entertainment clients turn to WilmerHale’s litigation, regulatory and government affairs practices for advice and representation. With sophisticated trial and investigations teams, a renowned appellate and US Supreme Court practice, and a leading slate of regulatory, policy and government relations practitioners based in Washington DC and Brussels, our firm has handled many of the most consequential challenges to face social media networks, other online providers, news organizations and journalists, broadcast and cable networks, and major film studios in recent years.
Our recent work has ranged from investigations and litigation relating to cyber breaches, data theft and misuse, and terrorist attacks to fast-moving First Amendment controversies, congressional investigations, commercial disputes, and even a complex and sensitive international diplomatic effort that resulted in the release of a Washington Post journalist detained in Iran.
WilmerHale has been at the forefront of internet law since our seminal 1997 victory in Zeran v. AOL—the first case to consider the meaning and scope of Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. That case, which held that online platforms are generally immune from liability for unlawful or harmful third-party content, has been a pillar of the legal framework that has permitted revolutionary internet services such as those offered by Facebook, Google and Twitter to be born and to flourish. We continue to lead the field, contributing our litigation, investigations, legislative and public policy experience to assist social media companies and other online platforms as the legal, regulatory and policy landscape rapidly evolves.
Regulatory AffairsDrawing on our firm’s premier regulatory capabilities in the United States, Europe and Asia, our lawyers assist clients facing privacy, data protection, antitrust and international market access challenges, among other regulatory and legislative affairs matters of pivotal importance to the media and entertainment industry.
Our extensive experience dealing with the legal frameworks, policies and regulations that govern our clients’ businesses—including matters before the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the US Congress, and regulators and courts from Brussels to Beijing—means that we are well positioned to pursue their interests at the highest levels in any jurisdiction.
We have negotiated with the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, the FCC, the European Commission and other regulators to obtain antitrust clearances for dozens of media and entertainment mergers and acquisitions. We have also helped clients successfully oppose mergers, and have handled a wide range of antitrust litigation in trial and appellate courts for clients ranging from movie theater chains to sports franchises to telecommunications providers, including cases addressing film distribution “clearances” and payments to student-athletes.
Our lawyers have helped prominent social media and internet service providers navigate sensitive data privacy issues in the United States and Europe, interfaced with regulators on complex matters concerning operations in China, successfully resolved FCC broadcast indecency challenges—including a matter for a major network that concluded with a victory in the US Supreme Court—and represented clients before regulators and policymakers across a wide range of other disciplines.
Transactions and LicensingWilmerHale represents media and entertainment clients in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, licensing, and a range of other transactions. Our recent work has included the representation of a large US theater chain in its acquisition by the UK’s biggest cinema operator; the negotiation of sponsorship and athlete contracts for a major athletic association; and the rollup of a slate of media properties—including industry leaders in premium television, film, live entertainment and digital media—into a new, diversified media company.
Intellectual PropertyWilmerHale’s industry-leading IP litigation and core intellectual property practitioners work closely with media and entertainment industry participants to protect their rights in patent, copyright, trademark, licensing and digital media matters. We have helped clients ranging from multinational media and entertainment conglomerates to web hosting companies, major fashion brands, and individual artists and creators address critical IP challenges. We are widely recognized for our skill in handling IP litigation and appeals—including matters that have reached the US Supreme Court. Recent successes include a complete victory for GoDaddy in a cybersquatting suit involving the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a Supreme Court win for Marvel Entertainment in a dispute over patent royalties for a Spider-Man toy.
- Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business – In 2019 and 2020, ranked the firm's Washington DC Media and Entertainment practice.
- U.S. News - Best Lawyers® – Named First Amendment Litigation Firm of the Year in the 2019 Best Law Firms list. The firm was also recognized for Media Law nationally and in Washington DC in the 2019–2021 lists.