Candy Woolley Fashion Editorial: Interview with Entertainment Lawyer Charlotte Towne
CW: What is the name of your firm and what is your website?
The name of my firm is Charlotte Towne, P.A. My website address is www.CharlotteTowneLaw.com
CW: What is the best way for potential clients to contact you?
Potential clients can best reach me by filling out and submitting the Contact Us form on my website or by calling me at my office at (954) 306-6624.
CW: How did you get into entertainment law?
My journey toward becoming an entertainment attorney began while I was in undergrad at the University of Miami. I was a Music Business major in UM’s School of Music. The classes I took included record industry operations, music publishing, copyrights, artist management, and music royalties.
After graduating college at UM, I moved to Los Angeles and worked for a few years in the music publishing and licensing side of the entertainment industry. Then, I went to law school and took entertainment, copyright and trademark law courses, was the president of my law school’s Entertainment and Sports Law Society, and I clerked for a boutique entertainment law firm.
CW: Tell us what the day in the life of an entertainment lawyer is like.
I love being an entertainment lawyer because every day is different and the matters I work on are generally fun and interesting because they involve artistic and complex subject matters. One day I could be redlining and negotiating a music publishing or 360 recording deal. The next I could be filing trademark applications or responding to an office action.
The next I could be drafting and sending a demand letter for payment of royalties or cease and desist copyright infringement of an artist’s song or a photographer’s photograph. The next I could be drafting a settlement agreement to settle a litigation dispute. Many days I am juggling all of the above simultaneously including fitting in phone calls, answering emails, and having client meetings.
CW: Was there a defining moment in your life that pushed you to work in copyright and entertainment law?
The first moment was when an entertainment attorney came to speak to my music business program while I was in college at the University of Miami. The contracts he worked on for his music industry clients sounded so exciting and interesting.
CW: What three qualities do you think adequately describe you as a copyright and entertainment attorney?
Detailed, Aggressive, and Compassionate.
CW: Who would need to hire an entertainment lawyer and why?
As an entertainment attorney, I represent any person or business that needs trademark and copyright legal services, which typically includes all businesses regardless of whether or not they are in the entertainment, music, arts, or fashion industry.
Many of my clients are singers, musicians, producers, independent record labels, photographers, graphic designers, models, fashion designers, writers, on-screen talent, film production companies, web designers, any business with a website, name, logos, artwork and photography for their marketing and branding.
Two extremely important reasons to hire an entertainment attorney are:
(1) To ensure that you are entering into legally adequate agreements that are in your best interests for the purpose of securing your rights in intellectual property and (2), to correctly file copyrights and trademarks on your behalf. Do not attempt to file copyrights and trademark applications on your own as it can lead to a lot of wasted time and money.
CW: If you had to choose one thing about your career makes you want to get up in the morning, what would it be?
CW: Since you are in the entertainment industry we have to ask, do you play any instruments and/or act?
I grew up singing, dancing, and acting in musical theatre productions. In order to graduate from the music business program at UM, I needed to also take all of the music classes which included private voice lessons, several levels of music theory, musicology, and vocal ensembles. My Bachelors degree is actually in Music. I still take dance classes on a regular basis for fun and exercise. I also sing in talent shows at entertainment law conferences in front of other entertainment attorneys (usually after I’ve had a cocktail or two).
CW: Does your firm utilize social media? If so, which platforms and why?
I have two business pages on Facebook: www.CharlotteTowneLaw.com and Law Office of Charlotte Towne, P.A. ~ An Entertainment Law Firm. I also have a Twitter account: @CharlotteTowne. You can also find me on LinkedIn and there is a lot of information about me on Avvo. Social Media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, is a great way to update the public on a regular basis about my speaking engagements, awards, updates in entertainment and IP law, and, most importantly, the accomplishments of my clients.
CW: What types of services does your firm provide?
(1) Contracts pertaining to entertainment and intellectual property matters such as reviewing, advising, making changes to, negotiating, and drafting agreements. For example, recording agreements, work for hire/copyright assignment agreements, talent release agreements, license agreements, distribution agreements, etc.
(2) Trademark and copyright filings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and United States Copyright Office.
(2) Litigation services pertaining to breach of contract, copyright infringement and trademark infringement matters. Feel free to peruse my website for a more exhaustive list at www.CharlotteTowneLaw.com
CW: Do you have any specific areas of expertise?
Although I am experienced in all entertainment law matters, music law is definitely one of my strong suits and dear to my heart because of my background. I am also well versed in a wide range of copyright and trademark matters.
CW: With laws always changing, how do you keep yourself up to date with them?
In addition to reading law journals and articles, I attend multiple entertainment and intellectual property law CLE’s (continuing legal education) a year. CLE’s have educational panels of attorneys and judges that discuss recent entertainment and intellectual property law cases and new or changing statutes. I also have spoken on panels at several of these CLEs.
CW: Of all the clients and/or brands you’ve represented, which one stands out the most for you and why?
I have been so fortunate to work with a great many talented, hard working, unique, and just all around wonderful clients and brands. It is difficult to highlight just one as a stand out. However, I must say, Candy Woolley is one client that I like to brag about to my friends and family. Her bags are gorgeous, have superior workmanship, and she has done such a fabulous job of branding and setting her products apart from her competitors.
CW: Can you mention any honors or awards you have received in your industry?
This year I was selected as a Florida Super Lawyers Rising Stars 2014 in the Entertainment and Sports Law category as well as a finalist in the Lifestyle Media Group’s Leaders In Law Awards in the Sports & Entertainment Law category. I am also an officer on the executive board for the Florida Bar Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law Section.
CW: What advice do you have for those out there just starting out in the music industry?
Invest in an experienced music attorney right away. When I say right away, I mean in the very beginning stages before you go into the studio to collaborate with or hire other artists, producers and musicians. There are contracts that need to be signed right away by all parties involved to establish authorship and ownership of copyrights. It is much more expensive to hire an experienced music attorney to clean up a mess that resulted from failing to put things in writing correctly to begin with than it is to hire one to draft the proper paperwork before the project has begun.
Also don’t sign contracts that are presented to you by a record label, manager, music publishing company, or any type of company or individual without first having an experienced music attorney advise you and make changes to the contract if necessary to protect your interests. Lastly, educate yourself about the music business and contracts. If you want a career in the music industry as an artist, you have to treat it like a business and understand at least the basics regarding copyrights and contracts. Purchase and read books such as All You Need To Know About the Music Business by Donald Passman and Music Money and Success by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec.
CW: Most people look at lawyers and attorneys as having a pretty standard wardrobe. Do you think you fall within that cliché or do you add your own style and flair to your work wardrobe?
I enjoy being feminine and subtly sexy yet retaining a professional and serious appearance. What’s nice about my area of practice is that I have more leniencies with my work wardrobe. I can wear ink colored skinny jeans, a blazer, heels, red lipstick, and silver mermaid dangly earrings to a client meeting and still be taken seriously. Obviously, if I have to attend a mediation or go to court, the standard black or grey suit gets pulled out of the closet and I swap out the fun jewelry and red lipstick for a more conservative look.
CW: Do you follow any specific fashion magazines, websites or pinterest boards?
Call me old fashioned but one of my guilty pleasures is looking through physical magazines like Vogue, Glamour, Elle, and I love physical catalogs like Victoria’s Secret, J Crew, Alloy, Delia’s, etc. I spend so much time on my laptop working, so that’s probably why I haven’t actively spent much time online searching for fashion on websites and pinterest boards. It is so much more enjoyable for me to look at physical magazines, catalogs, and look books that I can feel and smell the perfume inserts.
CW: If you had to leave everyone with just one piece of advice from an attorney’s perspective, what would it be?
Making good business decisions is just as important as being hard working, creative, talented and unique. In order to make good business decisions, you need an experienced attorney on your side at all times, especially in the beginning. The success of your business, and your emotional well being, depend on it.
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