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An Interdisciplinary Program for the Modern Age of Content: Online Sports, Entertainment, and Arts Law Certificate and MSL

An Interdisciplinary Program for the Modern Age of Content: Online Sports, Entertainment, and Arts Law Certificate and MSL

Man holding a camera at a sporting event, with a jumbotron in the distance

The complex environment of content intertwines many industries and professions, from sports, gaming, and movies to athletes, marketing managers, artistic directors, film and music producers, and agents. It also introduced an equally complex and intertwined landscape of legal challenges like intellectual property, labor and employment, corporate, nonprofit and transactional law. Now, to excel in the age of content, you have to have a firm grasp of how to lawfully operate within it.

Keep reading to find out how to advance your career in the modern world of content with the highly applicable knowledge of sports, entertainment, and arts law.

Exploring the Intersection of Law, Sports, Entertainment, and Art

Decades ago individuals would typically perfect their craft in one industry: Babe Ruth in baseball, Aretha Franklin in music, Pablo Picasso in art, for example, few of today’s celebrities stick to one lane. “Multi-hyphenate” is the term used to describe those celebrities who develop talents and notoriety in more than one industry. An early, and perhaps the best-known example, of a multi-hyphenate celebrity is Michael Jordan, who was a star athlete before he expanded his career with a footwear deal (and eventually entire sub-brand) with Nike, starred in several movies, and who has owned stake in various sports teams as well as businesses across industries.

Today, musicians are also actors, athletes pursue broadcasting careers, artists create digital NFTs. Today, celebrities and organizations must manage a complicated web of sponsorship, endorsements, entrepreneurship, and social media.

Whether you’re an agent negotiating a contract for a client, a marketing manager exploring user-generated content for brand promotion, or an independent artist who finds an unlicensed replica of their work online–the knowledge and skills needed to tackle the legal issues surrounding these fields will be highly useful for your career.

What Legal Challenges Do Artists, Athletes, and Entertainers Face in the Digital Age?

No matter if a professional is a multi-hyphenate individual or an expert in one field, they’re likely to face similar legal challenges at some point in their career. These might include topics like:

  • Name, image and likeness (NIL)
  • Copyright law
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Employment negotiations, contract law, collective bargaining
  • Taxes, grants, and financing

Consider, for example, how college athletes are now able to make endorsement and sponsorship deals based on their fame. After years of debate and litigation, in 2021 the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) finally allowed college athletes to benefit from the money made off their NIL income. However, universities, athletes, agents and others must cautiously navigate the policy’s limitations as well as how it interacts with state laws, which may vary from the NCAA’s official position.2 Anyone involved in these scenarios would be greatly aided by knowledge on NIL contracts.

When it comes to the entertainment industry, labor issues are front-and-center as Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) went on strike for 118 days to negotiate better contracts.3 Much of the entertainment and sports industries is governed by union agreements, so it’s crucial that producers, studio executives, and other professional working within these fields know how union contracts impact timelines, budgets, and more.

Finally, there are countless copyright and intellectual property issues that artists and museums face every day. Unfortunately, many independent artists have had the experience of large corporations stealing their work, recreating original items as inferior mass-produced versions or (often unknowingly) allowing artificial intelligence to integrate aspects of an artist's work within its creations.4 Museums also have to navigate the tricky business of borrowing from collectors’ personal collections and promoting their institutions with items that fall under copyright and trademark law.

How Does the Sports, Entertainment, and Arts Law Program at Pitt Law Prepare Students for the Evolving Legal Challenges in Sports and Entertainment?

Pursuing an education that covers the mutual legal concerns of each of these industries can put you ahead when content and careers aren’t bound by traditional expectations or media. Sometimes referred to as the “law degree for non-lawyers,” the Online Master of Studies in Law (MSL) with a Specialization in SEAL, or the SEAL Certificate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law will help you become more competent when dealing with the legal issues that pepper countless business dealings across industries. Minimize your calls to the legal team and demonstrate to your employer, partners, and clients that you’re a trusted resource with legitimate legal skills for the contemporary business and content-focused landscape.

What Legal Skills Are Taught in the Pitt Law SEAL Program for Sports, Entertainment, and Arts Professionals?

As the sports, entertainment, and arts industries intersect and grow to produce more content that travels between digital platforms, social media, streaming sites, and other technologies, non-lawyer professionals in these arenas have an evolving need to understand their legal assets and potential liabilities.

Students in Pitt Law’s MSL program will start with a foundation of legal knowledge, gaining a better understanding of the legal system as a whole, learning how to read and analyze cases and legal documents, and thoughtfully discussing judicial decisions and how those outcomes might influence their fields. The Online MSL courses will also cover constitutional law, criminal law, legislation and regulation, property, and torts, before moving on to the SEAL Specialization courses.

Certificate students will only complete the 15 credits of SEAL courses, which will focus on the legal issues most important to those in the sports, entertainment, and arts industries.

The SEAL curriculum will cover a wide variety of relevant legal topics including:

  • “Talent” and Labor and Employment Law
  • “Content” and Intellectual Property, including Copyright, Trademark, Patent, and Right of Publicity Law
  • “Money” and Contract, Finance and Distribution Law, including licensing, broadcast, and online streaming legal issues and agreements
  • First Amendment, Defamation, Libel and Slander Law
  • Legal issues and agreements related to distributing content

Career Prospects for Graduates of the Sports, Entertainment, and Arts Law Certificate or MSL Specialization

The SEAL MSL or certificate could be especially useful for individuals working in the following types of roles and settings:

Sports:

  • Athletic departments
  • Sports agents
  • Sports marketing
  • Compliance officers
  • Amateur sports managers and coaches
  • Operations for professional sports
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Entertainment:

  • Executives
  • Film, television or stage producers
  • Union leaders
  • Talent managers
  • Venue operators
  • Recording companies

Arts:

  • Museum administrator
  • Art gallery curator
  • Development and philanthropy
  • Artistic directors
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Choreography studios

Modernize Your Skill Set With Pitt Law

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law introduced the Online MSL with a SEAL Specialization and corresponding certificate program to fill a gap in law education. As streaming options continue to morph, social media platforms multiply and use of AI grows exponentially, it’s more important than ever that professionals working in the industries of sports, entertainment, and art are prepared to tackle the accompanying legal challenges. Not only will students at Pitt Law build legal knowledge and skills but they’ll learn from and network with expert faculty who are already embedded in the field. Plus, all courses are 100% online to fit into the demands of a busy professional’s schedule. To learn more, schedule a call with an admissions outreach advisor.