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John Taxiarchis’s Answers

10 total

  • Is there a difference between a music attorney and a business attorney?

    I've surfed the internet and I don't find many music/entertainment lawyers but my search results give me business lawyers.

    John’s Answer

    Absolutely there is a difference, which is not to mean that any qualified practitioner could not assist in some way in both areas. Generally speaking, in my experience, business lawyers are well versed in business formation, sometimes general ip matters, possibly employment issues and the like. An area that is commonly handled by "business lawyers" is the area of corporations which is quite complex and extremely important to have a handle on.

    When it comes to entertainment attorneys their expertise sometimes lies in areas that are outside the realm of expertise of corporate lawyers: chain of title for ip rights, royalty disputes, licensing of recordings and comps for film/tv, trademark matters, loan out corps, etc. One of the most important things that an experienced entertainment attorney can advise you on is what is considered the current industry standard. Moreover, as the community is small to some degree, we are able to let you know certain players and deals. Many times, in the beginning of the artist's career, until he or she has become established, the deals that come across their plate are not so great. But the right lawyer can tell you if that deal, with those terms, at that company with those players will enable you to get some traction in the respective industries.

    Last, while there are many qualified practitioners in secondary markets (like myself) many times the established firms are either large or found in the primary markets (LA, NY, Nashville, London).

    Best of luck.

    DISCLAIMER - this isnt legal advice and until you retain me (and I accept you as a client) I am not your lawyer. Thanks.

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  • International Entertainment Law - Question about modifications/addendum to current contract for performance in Peru

    I am a touring musical performer who has been asked to perform a show in Peru. I do not have a point of legal contact in Peru. Where can I find information on what specific modifications to my current entertainment contract will give me legal pr...

    John’s Answer

    You can suggest a choice of law and see if you can get the contract construed under the laws of the state where you reside, but that won't save you in the event of an issue. In order to effectively assess your needs a lawyer would require all of the information (much like the information requested by the others who tried to respond to your post): who are the parties, what are the obligations, what are the protections in place already.

    And no matter what jurisdiction is chosen for the construction of the contract, you should be aware that realistically enforcing a contract with a party in a foreign country can be tricky and expensive. It is not recommended that you find a qualified and experienced lawyer to help you handle the drafting and negotiation of all of the relevant legal issues. If you are traveling with a group or on a tour there might be some additional information you can get your hands on. Otherwise look to the person who booked the show to determine who the parties are and start there.

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  • I am an aspiring recording artist & have questions about an entertainment contract for an agent that wishes to represent me.

    This person is asking 35% if I get signed. Is this the 'norm'?

    John’s Answer

    While every agency will vary the standard is closer to the range of 10-20%. Of course any deal should be looked at in light of all of the circumstances. If this agent is established, reputable, well connected and has the ability to make a career out of someone with talent but no experience then the high percentage might be warranted. It's difficult to determine without knowing the players and seeing the agreement. As a matter of course, the initial number seems high. I would suggest trying to get it down as well as get very clear information about what this agent will do for this percentage. Also, check to see if your state requires talent agents to be registered and if it does ensure the party offering you the contract is.

    Best of luck.

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  • What does it mean when a Producer/network wants to own exclusive rights to my life story?

    I received a contract for a reality show. All seems fine except that I would have to "cooperate" with them in relation to all details of my life story on an exclusive basis and grant them the rights to my life story "forever & throughout the unive...

    John’s Answer

    To make a solid assessment any practitioner would need to see the actual contract. Based on what you put in your post there is something you can do: not sign. There is always the choice to not engage. That being said, with everyone looking for their 15 seconds, I would have to concur with those above that answer in that you can attempt to reign in some of the broad rights you convey in the agreement. This is without respect to whether the changes will be granted. I would at least try to put in some terminology that relates to rights reverting back to you in the event the show doesn't get picked up, some sort of expiration language on the restrictions, and like one of the attorneys here suggested with respect to life story rights, try to restrict the applicability of those rights to a feature film or something along those lines.

    The best advice you can be given is to go see a qualified practitioner in your area (as it has some of the best in the world) and pay to have the contract reviewed/opined to. That way you will have a full and complete understanding as to your rights and obligations under it.

    Best of luck.

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  • I need of a Music Attorney

    I am looking for a Music Attorney to review a Music Contract that I am paying on so I want it to go through but my Recording Company, Tumba Records will NOT call me back to discuss the specifics of the contract so this is a Red Flag for starters. ...

    John’s Answer

    I'd be happy to give you a free consult. I sent you an email. Any while I concur that any contracting party who refuses to discuss specifics is suspect, I am without the fact to assess whether there is anything foul in play here. Keep in mind that for a very long time many of the people in the business of music had only one person's interests in mind: theirs. That belief bred a lot of one-sided contracts. When questions are asked it removes the blinders and ignorance is no longer bliss.

    You have made a good start by being skeptical and reaching out. Continue on with your due diligence and I am sure it will work out well.

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  • Will copyright laws prevent me from posting videos of me singing songs using accompaniment music I purchased to sing in church?

    I purchase soundtrack music to sing it in church services. I would like to post on YouTube the songs I sing in church but I'm not sure if this is an infringement on copyright?

    John’s Answer

    In presuming the works are not in the public domain like Pamela pointed, and presuming that you purchased a cassette or CD from a store, you will need both a synch license from the publisher as well as master use license from the owner of the sound record (if the actual sound recording is used in your film). You can search the databases of both ASCAP and BMI, two of the three most prominent performing rights societies in the US for the publisher's information. The owner of the Master Sound Recordings should be on the cd/cassette itself.

    Be forewarned: both the synch and master use license (and the mechanical license if applicable) will most likely cost you some money.

    **DISCLAIMER - No attorney/client relationship is established by provision of an answer to your post. Each fact pattern is unique and the question doesn't provide the full information necessary to properly advise you. It is highly suggested that you consult a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction.

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  • If I have been filmed in a Television commercial without being notified, am I entitled to royalties?

    I was in a large supermarket, shopping in the produce section several months ago. I did not know I was filmed shopping until family members and friends notified me that I have been on that commercial everyday. Was I to be informed before being f...

    John’s Answer

    The issue is one concerning your right to publicity. Briefly, the right of publicity allow for the control of the commercial use of your name, likeness, or image. There are certain exemptions to this right such as the First Amendment right of freedom of expression, which I would not think is applicable in this instance. Also, there are other possible rights of privacy in play but based on your limited fact pattern I am not sure that there was any expectation of privacy while shopping in a public venue such as a supermarket. The specific facts of your case will be very important in determining your rights.

    With regard to your ability to derive royalties there are a numbers of factors to consider, the majority of which might not apply to you (type of shoot, union participation, collective bargaining agreements, etc). This is not to say that if there was actual infringement on your rights that you would not be entitled to some sort of compensation, but I doubt it would be royalty-based. Again, based on your fact pattern it is difficult to ascertain.

    I would suggest that you speak with a qualified and experienced attorney in your state as NY has some of the finest attorneys in the world that deal with these sorts of disputes. Moreover, rights of publicity are usually state-based laws and not federal, so having someone experienced in the laws of your jurisdiction is paramount.

    **DISCLAIMER - This answer is not to be construed or relied upon as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been established. The reader of this answered is highly advised to consult a qualified attorney in his or her jurisdiction to ascertain his or her rights or remedies.

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  • Is it legal to show a rented movie to a group of people for free

    As a non profit group we want to use movies to attract people to a meeting. the question posed is would it be legal to rent/show a movie to a group if we are not charging anything to the participants?

    John’s Answer

    Both Daniel and Pamela are perfectly accurate: it is not legal for you to show that movie in public without the express permission of the copyright holder as the rental license doesn't cover it. Daniel made a great point about possibly securing a gratis license from the copyright owner to show their work to the public. Depending on your charitable purpose this may be possible, but as he mentioned, it will be up the copyright owner to grant that license. Also, this is a great time to point out that any unauthorized usage of copyright is still considered infringement even if there is no monetary exchange - e.g. just because you don't charge does not mean that the use of the copyright without permission is allowed.

    Reach out to the producers (if they are the copyright holders) and ask permission.

    **DISCLAIMER**The information contained in this answer post should not be construed, considered or relied upon as legal advice. You should contact and engage a qualified licensed attorney in your jurisdiction as each state's laws are different. No attorney-client relationship is established by way of answering your question.

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  • Can employer use your image (picture) for a promotion or film without the employee's permission?

    can your picture be used in the employer's promotion or a film that is being made?

    John’s Answer

    Great (and complex) question. It may depend on what is in your employment agreement or if there was some other contract that was executed in the employer/employee relationship. I can only presume from your post that you never signed a image/rights release. Also, there should be some consideration given to the type of film (e.g. a documentary where fair use may be in play or possibly a corporate video), as well as the location of the shoot, before determining if there has been any infringement on the right of publicity or any expected right to privacy (if there is one).

    I would suggest speaking with a local lawyer who is well versed in both of the applicable state and federal laws.

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  • What are the services an attorney can provide to a music producer?

    I am a music producer (make beats or instrumentals) and i am planning on hiring a lawyer. What are the services that a lawyer can provide in terms of representation or other matter? Thank You.

    John’s Answer

    I think everyone who has answered the question on this thread is right on the money. The only other information I would add is finding a qualified professional who not only can secure, protect and help with the monetization of your ip (both copyrights and trademarks), but also has a solid handle on two things: (1) how the industries are changing (and thus being able to draft/negotiate with that evolution in mind) and (2) knowing what is acceptable in the industry as it relates to the artist's level of recognition/leverage.

    I think the time has finally come that everyone in the music industry on the talent side is not preprogrammed to want a traditional label deal (which can be seen as a good thing). Thank being said, the proper label with a solid artist in the right genre is still possibly a good fit. As an independent professional (as I am presuming you are) you are in a good position as technology has somewhat leveled the playing field when it comes to distribution and with this comes the ability to gain some amount of exposure. Yet, it is still very much advised that you sit down with a qualified attorney before you start entering into a variety of deals. Get your rights secured in the beginning and have someone read over the contracts before signing them. Live by those words.

    To answer the question (which everyone here has quite well): an experienced industry lawyer can help you register trademarks and copyrights, can assist with the negotiation of a variety of deals such as licensing, distribution, management & agency and can help you set up some sort of corporate entity if it makes sense for your level of interest/commitment.

    Best of luck to you. Its a great time to be an independent.

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