Gordon Firemark has been working in the entertainment industry as a lawyer for over 26 years. Today, he owns his own practice and enjoys working from home whenever possible and spending time with his three children and several pets.
His interest and talent in marketing led him to create a podcast and grow a strong digital presence, something that sets him apart from his law colleagues. His podcast, Entertainment Law Update is a monthly recap of news stories in the entertainment space and has been running for 10 years.
“I discovered it (podcasting) is a good marketing tool. It’s great for positioning oneself as an expert in the field, so I’ve kept at it.”
During and after college, he was drawn to film and worked in local news, but soon realized that his strength laid in the legal side, and found that he could bridge the gap between the creative and legal through his work.
As a lawyer, he explains that he often sees entrepreneurs bootstrapping their way through the legal maze. While this may be necessary and important in the beginning, when it gets beyond the basics, you shouldn’t be doing it by yourself. Don’t underestimate the importance of protecting yourself now, so that you can plant your flag and be prepared when it matters. This is where copyrights, trademarks, and patents come into play and offer serious protection.
Copyright: protection for original works of expression: poem, song, script, podcast, course, lesson, etc.
Trademark: protects distinctive brand names and identifiers that are used to point to the source or origin of particular goods. For example, red triangle means nabisco.
Patents: a form of protection for inventions and certain kinds of designs that are unique and not obvious to the community that develops these things.
These are important things to consider securing when creating content and doing business. Getting things in writing is really key.
Agreements, releases, and having things in writing becomes especially important for protection in the digital space, as content is constantly created, recycled, commented on, and shared.
For example, when you are recording a podcast with an interviewee, you should ideally have an agreement with them or have their signature on a release that states that you own the content that you will be creating together. This allows you to outline the terms of how you will use it, and have their permission in writing.
This becomes crucial when a guest may disagree with how you formatted your show or the final product. The release allows your work to be protected and valid despite their opinion.
The same goes for using music and photography. While the Fair Use law in the United States protects creators and artists in many of these situations, as podcasting grows as an international medium, Gordon says that securing permission is always your best bet.
Gordon’s Top Tips
- Get your business structure figured out and right.
- Get your trademark and branding clear and protected.
- Get things in writing.
- Get your website terms and privacy page tailored to your business.
- Respect everyone else’s intellectual property the way you respect your own.
He recommends taking his course on Toolkit called The Digital Entrepreneurs Business and Legal Toolkit if you’re looking for further guidance as you work on your business’s legal profile.
Go to Five Legal Steps and download this free report. If you’re looking at getting started and need to get your legal ducks in a row this is a great way to do it without a big investment.