Friday, May 8, 2015

Industry Liability

The practice of protecting the company from legal recourse over unknown occurrences is an essential activity associated with running a business in the entertainment industry. As the demand for services associated with the live events sector continue to rise, so does the laundry list of liability concerns that event coordinators, producers and staff must consider prior to show time. Based on the growing trend of separate sectors (music, film, video games, etc.) incorporating live events to drive traffic and raise brand awareness, the event coordination business has seen a number of instances in which shows have been cancelled due to issues with intellectual property rights.
            In February of this year, The Hollywood Reporter published an article updating the status of proceedings between recording artist and entrepreneur Jay-Z, and the estate of Egyptian film composer Osama Ahmed Fahmy. The specification addressed was Jay-Z’s use of a sample from the song “Khosara, Khosara” from the 1960 film Fata Ahlami (Gardner, 2015). In a lawsuit that has been active for the last 8 years, Live Nation is now being pulled into the scrum by Fahmy’s estate, which claims the concert giant knowingly promoted and profited from Jay-Z’s performance of material that violated copyright. Situations like this affirm the importance of indemnification clauses in contracts between concert touring companies and artists.
            Liability manifests itself in many forms during a live event. None have been more prevalent than personal injury lawsuits filed by patrons. The Buffalo News recently reported on an incident that culminated in the filing of a $150 million lawsuit against Live Nation (Fairbanks, 2014). According to the article, concert patron Jason McNeil was attending a Kid Rock concert when an inebriated fan randomly punched him in the head. This lead to McNeil’s lawyer pressing for the $150 million judgment, claiming his client “can never work again.” In situations like this, there are a number of factors that can discredit the arguments of either side. McNeil’s medical history needs to be taken into consideration, to judge the validity of his lawyer’s claim. If he is indeed found to be incapacitated to the point that he cannot gain employment, then he should be compensated for such. However, if that isn’t the case, then the remedy must be revisited to ensure that one side isn’t victimizing the other with a frivolous and baseless lawsuit.