Media, Advertising and Entertainment Law

New challenges and opportunities are continually arising in the media, advertising and entertainment industries throughout Canada and the world. Cross-sectoral mergers and acquisitions are integrating previously independent functioning groups into cohesive operating units creating large vertically integrated media companies. These new mega-media companies play an essential role in Canada’s economy. At the same time, consumers are demanding greater and faster access to content on a variety of new distribution platforms. The convergence of technologies is creating new distribution channels giving rise to new rights management issues and evolving new funding and revenue models.

At Shibley Righton LLP, the team of lawyers who practice Media, Advertising and Entertainment Law are focused on all aspects of these industries and are committed to staying current and providing our clients with knowledgeable business solutions and unmatched personalized service. Our team has a diverse wealth of experience in the multimedia, advertising and entertainment fields of film, television, conventional broadcasting, exhibition, publishing, music, theatre, advertising and marketing, sports, mobile distribution, computer hardware and software, computer gaming and the Internet. We provide a full range of services at affordable rates on matters involving the development, protection, exploitation and use of client intellectual property rights in all media products and services; domestic and international transactions and federal, provincial and international tax credit programs and special production funds; and  corporate finance, securities and merger and acquisition transactions.

Our clients are based throughout North America and abroad and they reflect the diversity of the media, advertising and entertainment industry and include:

  • film, television, documentary, live theatre and new media independent producers;
  • animation studios, animators, writers, actors, directors, artists, managers, designers, talent agencies and talent representation, advertisers, advertising agencies, product placement and sponsorship, record labels, musicians, and composers; and
  • distributors, broadcasters, financiers, banks, investors and lenders.

Shibley Righton LLP is an active member of the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), as are various members of our team, including James Minns who is an active member of the CMPA Copyright Committee and the Business Management for Media Professionals Committee of Women In Film and Television - Toronto (WIFT-T). Bill Northcote is also the co-author of the Canada chapter of the loose-leaf service Media, Advertising & Entertainment Law throughout the World published by Thompson West. Bill has also acted as external general counsel for a major record company, independent record companies and recording artists.




Name and Title
Name and Title



News that Canadian residents will no longer be able to apply to appear on Jeopardy! due to international privacy law concerns is likely just a way for the popular TV quiz show to avoid the burden of investigating and complying with Canadian law, Toronto business and entertainment lawyer Bill Northcote tells

Global News reports the quiz show hosted by Canuck Alex Trebek has long accepted Canadian contestants but as of this year, Canadians are shut out from applying for the time being. In a statement, the show’s producers stated:

“As international laws governing how information is shared over the internet are ever-changing and complex, we are currently investigating how we can accept registrations from potential Canadian contestants.”

This vague reasoning is probably because the show doesn’t want to go to the effort of finding out what it needs to do to comply with Canadian law, says Northcote, partner with Shibley Righton LLP.

“It’s probably easier to just exclude Canadians,” he says. “I took a look at a couple of websites for other game shows, like Wheel of Fortune, and most state that you have to be a United States resident to apply. Jeopardy! has long accepted Canadians and was one of the rare shows to do so.”

Trebek, in a statement to the Ottawa Citizen, pointed at Canadian privacy laws as the culprit behind the ban.

“We have had many Canadians as contestants throughout the history of the show, and we hope that will continue, because Canadians make great game show contestants. We look forward to having more try out as soon as we are sure we can comply with all Canadian online privacy laws,” Trebek says.

Northcote says the reasoning given by the show to exclude Canadian residents doesn’t point to any specific legal provision. He says if it’s due to Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation, they could draw up the right forms of consent.

“You can consent to getting email and you could consent to the use of your name and likeness and all of that. I haven’t seen it but I'm sure there's a very lengthy release form that allows the show to put you on TV if you get to that stage.”

“At the end of the day, it is probably too much work for them. Frankly, the show’s major market is the United States so I suspect there's really not much interest or need in having Canadians participating. I don’t think this change will affect one iota of how many people tune in and how much advertising revenues are generated," Northcote says.

"I know some Canadians feel strongly about it, and I suppose they could all boycott Jeopardy!, but it's not likely to happen,” he adds.


The recently passed Bill 17 is the first legislation in the province that expressly addresses child performers and protects a portion of their income, says Toronto entertainment lawyer Bill Northcote.

Northcote, partner with Shibley Righton LLP, says the Protecting Child Performers Act won’t be a big shift for those in the entertainment industry who already follow guidelines and best practices, but it will be a change for those outliers who do not.

For example, the act states: “An employer shall, in accordance with any prescribed requirements, provide time in the work schedule for a child performer who is of compulsory school age to receive tutoring in accordance with the regulations.”

Northcote tells that providing tutoring to child performers is nothing new for many companies in the entertainment industry.

However, he notes the section on mandatory income protection is an important part of the legislation.

Under the act if a non-unionized child performer earns more than $2,000 on a production or project, the employer is required to remit 25 per cent of those earnings to be held in trust until the child reaches the age of 18. If the child is a member of a trade union or professional association then they can negotiate to hold the funds in trust.

Northcote says this type of provision is something that has long been around in other jurisdictions — most notably, California. The California Child Actor's Bill also known as Coogan Law and now part of the California Family Code and the California Labor Code, was named after child actor Jackie Coogan who sued his mother and former manager for his earnings in the 1930s.

"This income-protection provision is there to protect the child performers who are doing all the work but their parents take the money,” he says. “I expect that in many cases it could be money well spent but in other cases it could be that the money is used to support the family’s lifestyle but doesn't benefit the child in a direct sense.”

Bill 17 started as a private member’s bill less than a year ago and was passed unanimously.

“It's unusual that a private member's bill would make it to legislation, especially this quickly,” says Northcote. “This legislation is not political, although that doesn't seem to stop other bills from dying. Some legislation just doesn’t generate a lot of controversy. In this case, I think the bill had quick passage because it is going to protect children. It's a good thing.”

The law will come into force on February 5, 2016.


William L. Northcote, with the assistance of Isabelle Eckler Student-at-Law,  “Chapter 6 Canada (excluding the province of Quebec)” 2015 Vol. 1 Media, Advertising & Entertainment Law Throughout the World 177


Editor:  Entertainment Law in Canada - Publication Date: 2000-01-01 - Publisher: LexisNexis Canada - Covers four major fields in the entertainment industry: film, television, music and sports. It specifically addresses the legal, income tax and business considerations that commonly arise in connection with the creation, development and production of artistic works and sports activities.


eBulletin Subscription