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The NBA Lawyers’ Business, Part 2: Music Synch Licensing

Thursday, 28 October 2021 By Vered Yakovee

An NBA game is a form of entertainment that consists mostly, but not entirely, of people playing basketball. Other contributors to the overall entertainment experience may include a mascot, DJ, dancers, on-court games and contests for fans, and player and coach interviews. In addition to being part of the same entertainment event, these things have another element in common – all of them usually occur with music playing in the background. However, the license that allows a team to play music in its venue typically does not extend to permit the team to use that music synchronized to video, regardless of whether the resulting video clip is shown on the digital scoreboard in the arena, outside the arena, or online—including social media. This creates a problem for a team when it takes video of game entertainment with music playing in the background and wishes to publish it anywhere, such as in a social media post. A different kind of license—a synch license—is required for the team to do so even if the team was authorized to play the music in the arena live in the first place.

In fact, there is a current wave of change happening with respect sports teams using music synched to video and posted online. Today, a team lawyer must have a plan for managing this kind of activity. This article is Part 2 in a series describing the NBA team lawyers’ business. Part One discusses alcohol beverage regulations as they relate to team sponsor advertising. This second part discusses:

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Vered Yakovee

Vered Yakovee

Vered Yakovee is the Principal Attorney of Yakovee Law, a boutique sports and entertainment law practice with offices in Marina del Rey, California and Miami, Florida. Before founding Yakovee Law, Vered served as Vice President and Associate General Counsel for the Miami HEAT and AmericanAirlines Arena, and as Associate Team Counsel for the Boston Celtics. Prior to joining the Celtics, she operated the Law Offices of Vered N. Yakovee through which she represented the Los Angeles Lakers, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and other best-in-class properties on a wide array of transactional matters as well as insurance and risk management matters. Prior to that, she was an Associate with Dickstein, Shapiro, Morin & Oshinsky, LLP, where she co-founded the firm's Sports Insurance Initiative.

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