Sports & Entertainment Spotlight - March 2021

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Greetings, and welcome to the inaugural edition of the Sports & Entertainment Spotlight series! The product of my unrequited desire for human interaction nearly one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, this weekly feature will endeavor to bring readers up to speed on new, noteworthy and/or cutting-edge business and legal developments in the sports and entertainment industries. I hope you find it informative and fascinating, as I certainly do. If there are any topics you’d like to read more about, please feel free to let me know.

This week’s installment spotlights some noteworthy trends and developments, including:

  • The anatomy of a successful branding and investment empire;
  • The relatively nascent world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the exciting opportunities for athletes, entertainers and brands to monetize digital assets through the use of blockchain technology;
  • The hot market for music copyright acquisitions; and
  • The latest legislative proposals that move collegiate athletes one step closer to having the right to profit off of name, image and likeness (NIL) rights while many athletic programs remain on the sidelines.

Endorsement Deals & Sponsorships

The Influencer: How Jay-Z Created a Path to Luxury Influence and Become the World's First Hip-Hop Billionaire
February 26, 2021 via The Province
It has been another busy week for Jay-Z, the hip-hop musician and entrepreneur. On Monday, he unveiled a deal with LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE to expand his Armand de Brignac champagne globally. The next day, Oatly, the Swedish vegan-milk group in which he has invested, took its first step toward a $10 billion initial public offering.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like... Getting the Most Out of a Super Bowl Star Endorsement?
February 9, 2021 via Drum, The - thedrum.com
In this series, we ask readers of The Drum – from brands, agencies and everything in between – for their advice on real problems facing today’s marketing practitioners. Today, we ask US marketers how to extract value from a big-name endorsement. And they’re a favorite strategy for brands looking to break through the background noise at the Super Bowl. Some team-ups are more successful than others, of course, and getting a partnership to actually work well for brand and talent is a fine art.

Music IP

Triller: Putting Influencers Ahead of Licenses
March 1, 2021 via Plagiarism Today
TikTok rival Triller has found itself has a wild few months when it comes to both legal and public controversies. Back in October, Triller was sued by TikTok’s parent company over alleged patent infringement. The company has faced repeated questions about how many users it actually has and even threatened to sue one app analytics firm that accused it of inflating its numbers.

Taylor Swift Countersues Evermore Theme Park in Utah for Allegedly Playing Three of Her Songs on Grounds
February 25, 2021 via New York Daily News
Hopefully this won't go on forever more. Taylor Swift has countersued the Utah theme park that bears the same name as the Grammy winner's latest album, “evermore,” The Guardian reported. The “gold rush” singer’s company, TAS Rights Management, alleges that Evermore has played three of her songs on park grounds “without authorization or license agreement,” according to the countersuit filed Monday with the U.S. District Court in the middle district of Tennessee.

With the Music IP Market Booming, 7 Reasons Why Artists Are Selling Their Songs Now
February 24, 2021 via Greenwich Time.com
What do Stevie Nicks, Chrissie Hynde, Neil Young and Bob Dylan have in common? Apart from being iconic rockers, they are the latest in a seemingly endless stream of superstars who are doing what for many — themselves included — was previously unthinkable: selling their songs and recordings.

Non-fungible Tokens

American Music Producer Makes USD 11.7M in NFT Sales
March 1, 2021 via Cryptonews
The link between crypto, blockchain and the music industry is growing increasingly strong, after an American electronic dance music producer set a new high for non-fungible token (NFT) sales, raising some USD 11.7m in the sale of 33 unique items – with the most expensive token fetching almost USD 3.7m.

Why the Million Dollar Industry of Non-Fungible Tokens Is Receiving Major Backlash
March 1, 2021 via ZyCrypto (Online)
In the world of crypto where new assets are introduced to the market nearly on a daily basis, there’s a new happening kid on the block: Non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These tokens, capable of duplicating official digital media, help musicians, artists, and sports players put a price tag on digital media. Unlike Cryptocurrencies, NFTs cannot be exchanged for another as each one is entirely different from the other.

Non-Fungible Tokens 101: A Primer on NFTs for Brands & Business Professionals
February 28, 2021 via Forbes - Innovation
In the Spring of 2019, a highly sought-after plot of land was put on the market. Estate 331, nicknamed “The Secret of Satoshis Tea Garden,” is centrally located in a busy, expensive area known as “Genesis Plaza.” But it’s also spacious—its owner had diligently bought up 64 adjacent parcels of land which, together, form a perfect square. There are plenty of other perks to boot. For example, while busy roads line each edge of the square, bringing high traffic from nearby regions, no roads go through it. And, by law, the more contiguous parcels a single landowner possesses, the higher they’re allowed to build, so 64 together allows for some near-unprecedented potential. Of course, there’s one other important thing to say about Estate 331: that it’s not a real estate asset in the way you’d imagine.

Grammy-Winning Producer Illmind Auctions Rights to New Samples as NFT
February 26, 2021 via CryptoPost
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are being used to explore a new business model that puts music makers back in control of sales and copyright issues. Grammy winning producer Illmind released what he calls the “first ever NFT-backed sample loop/melody pack” on February 25, 2021, putting a collection of 10 “melody compositions” up for auction on the Mintable NFT market app.

With Blockchain Buzz Building, Luckyme Artist Jacques Greene Sells NFT Publishing Stake in Cryptocurrency
February 25, 2021 via Music Week
The blockchain buzz has been building in the music industry for several years now. But, a new deal could represent a breakthrough for the technology and NFT (Non-Fungible Token) digital collectibles/assets, which have seen growing media coverage (‘The future is non-fungible,’ said a recent FT headline).

Right of Publicity

By Opting Out of Video Game, ND Calls Attention To NIL Issue
March 1, 2021 via Fox News - Latest News
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)'s proposal to permit athletes to earn money from endorsements would stand in the way of players' names, images and likenesses being used in Electronic Arts (EA) Sports' new college football video game. Until that changes, Notre Dame doesn't want to be in the game. The Fighting Irish are not alone among major college football programs passing on inclusion in the rebooted game until players can get paid to be in it, too.

Why Athletes at the Military Academies Are Forbidden From Monetizing Their Names, Images and Likenesses
February 28, 2021 via Forbes - Business
While thousands of NCAA athletes are looking forward to leveraging their social media power as early as 2021, there is one group of high-profile athletes who will be prohibited from participating at all in monetizing their names, images and likenesses. The United States Service Academies, in an official government memorandum, have been told that all athletes are prohibited from using their right to publicity as a college athlete because they are considered to be employees.

Latest Congressional NIL Bill Would Allow Athletes to Enter Draft and Return to College
February 24, 2021 via Sports Illustrated
College football players could enter the NFL draft and return to their university under the latest congressional bill. The Amateur Athletes Protection and Compensation Act of 2021 is scheduled to be introduced this week in the U.S. Senate by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). Sports Illustrated obtained a copy of the legislation. The act is the sixth congressional bill governing athlete compensation announced or introduced over the last calendar year in Washington, but is just the second to be introduced in the new Congress. Bills introduced last year must be reintroduced this year.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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