In Conversation With Lawyer Anamika Jha on Setting Up a Media & Entertainment Practice, Protecting Intellectual Property & More

Anamika, a leading media and entertainment lawyer, is known for her knack for crafting exceptional media and entertainment agreements. Her portfolio boasts co-production agreements, artist and producer collaborations, distribution deals, and writing partnerships, just to name a few. She has even squared off with some heavy hitters in the industry, defending creators’ interests in contracts with giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sony Liv, Dharma Productions, Sunshine Production Company, Sa Re Ga Ma, and the list goes on!

Driven by her desire to simplify legal matters, she founded “Attorney for Creators.” It’s a legal website that caters to the needs of creative individuals across the country. Through her regular articles, she breaks down complex topics like copyright protection, life rights acquisition, contract tips, and title and idea protection.

1. What inspired you to merge your passion for the entertainment world with your legal expertise, ultimately leading to the creation of “Attorney for Creators”?

Anamika: Media entertainment law has always fascinated me. Fortunately, at the beginning of my career, I got a chance to work on copyright-related disputes while working with Commercial Law Chamber, a Delhi-based firm. This practical experience gave wings to my interest. Later, I worked with Dish TV and played a crucial role in developing their OTT platform “Watcho” from a legal angle. However, my breakthrough came when I started leading the legal department of the Screenwriters Association as a legal officer. There, I interacted with hundreds of writers and directors working in the film industry.

I noticed that big producers are represented by high-profile law firms while writers, creators, and independent filmmakers do not have access to similar quality legal representation at an affordable price. To fill this gap, I founded Attorney for Creators, a dedicated legal platform for all creative people to receive legal advisory, contract drafting, review, and negotiation, and to spread legal awareness among creative people.

2. Could you share a pivotal moment from your tenure as the legal advisor for the Screenwriters Association of India that significantly influenced your approach to entertainment law?

Anamika: While working on the agreements between writers and producers, I noticed that many of these agreements had unfair clauses. For example, some of the clauses were one-sided and allowed for termination and unnecessary liabilities without any reasonable cause. Some of the agreements also had poor credit clauses and stringent indemnity clauses. These writers often signed these agreements as a mere formality without realizing the consequences of these unfair clauses. However, when they faced any issues during their work tenure and looked back at the signed contract, they realized how they had unknowingly agreed to these unfair documents.

Therefore, I decided to make legal awareness my primary job. I started writing articles on my blog www.attorneyforcreators.com  and also posted on Instagram to educate people on their rights. I was overwhelmed by the positive response I received for my initiatives throughout the industry.

3. “Attorney for Creators” aims to simplify legal matters for creative individuals. How do you balance the need for legal accuracy and thoroughness with the goal of making legal knowledge accessible and understandable to a broader audience?

Anamika: “I strongly believe that legal language should be simple, straightforward, and easily understandable. Even when I draft an agreement for a creative person, I ensure that the language used is simple and clear, so that my client fully understands the document that they are signing.

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From my experience of interacting with creative people, I have come to understand that the only way to enhance legal awareness among them is to be creative in your approach. As a lawyer, I try to be a good listener, understand their issues, and then come up with solutions in simple, plain language. This approach has worked like magic. I find my clients highly satisfied and confident after their legal sessions with me. So, it’s safe to say that simplicity is the key!”

4. In your opinion, what are the most pressing legal issues or gray areas in the media and entertainment industry today, and how do you anticipate these challenges evolving in the future?

Anamika: One of the most pressing legal issues is the difference in bargaining power between large corporations such as OTT platforms and studios, and small creators. It is difficult to come up with a balanced and fair arrangement in such cases. However, these challenges can be overcome if creators become more legally aware and their associations become more assertive in protecting their interests. Creators should not shy away from taking legal help when necessary.

Another challenge is the need to amend the Copyright Law of 1957 to include mandatory clauses to safeguard the rights of independent creators. We also need more clarity from the authorities regarding the position of statutory royalties to be paid to screenwriters.

5. What drives you as a legal professional?

Anamika: I believe that I possess excellent listening skills and a keen eye for detail. I enjoy analyzing documents and uncovering the practical implications of their contents. These qualities have led me to pursue a career in transaction law. It brings me great joy to be able to offer legal guidance and assistance to my clients.

Additionally, I am an explorer at heart, and the legal profession offers endless opportunities to explore different areas of law. While I continue to work extensively in media and entertainment law, I am also venturing into the financial sector, such as the insurance industry, and I plan to continue exploring other areas in the future.

6. How do you advise creators to safeguard their original concepts while engaging in collaborative endeavors?

Anamika: It is important to note that every case is unique and should be treated accordingly. Once you have developed a concept for a collaboration, it’s essential to consult with your entertainment lawyer to determine the best course of action.

You should have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with the project. It’s important to decide what you are willing to keep and what you are willing to let go of. For instance, do you want to assign your intellectual property rights or simply go with a licensing deal while keeping your IPR? It’s also crucial to have a clear understanding of the financial aspects of the project.

Once you have a clear understanding of your objectives and have discussed them in detail with your lawyer, you can formulate a contract that suits your needs. Be sure to sign the contract with your collaborator before advancing further into the project.

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7. You have been invited to share your wisdom at various platforms, including panel discussions, workshops, and guest lectures. Can you share a memorable experience or lesson learned from one of these engagements that significantly impacted your approach to legal advocacy and education?

Anamika: Every such interaction is a memorable experience. We interact with panelists and audience and learn from their understanding and experiences. Also, share our experiences with them. Hence, I always welcome such opportunities.

8. How do you believe legal awareness initiatives, such as your regular articles and educational content on “Attorney for Creators,” can empower individuals within the creative community to navigate legal complexities with confidence?

Anamika: Definitely! That’s why I’ve been consistent in my approach. It brings me great joy when these creators come to me and say that they are more legally aware and confident after reading my articles and Instagram posts. It feels like a small revolution in itself.

This is merely a start. I am committed to establishing our platform as the preferred choice for every creative individual seeking legal guidance for their creative journey. We aim to leverage cutting-edge technology and innovative strategies to expand our reach to every corner of India and become the go-to legal solution for all creative professionals.

9. Apart from your academic pursuits, were there any extracurricular activities or hobbies that played a significant role in shaping your identity and professional aspirations?

Anamika: I enjoy listening to informative podcasts, engaging in debates, and keeping up with current news reports to stay informed about my surroundings. Additionally, I find reading books on a diverse range of topics, from spirituality to politics, to be a valuable way to develop myself as an individual and a professional

10. What advice or best practices would you offer to new creators negotiating contracts with streaming platforms and production companies?

Anamika: Firstly, always give your best effort to whatever you create and remain confident in your work. Secondly, do not surrender to an unfair or one-sided legal contract. It is important to fully understand any document before signing it. If you are unsure, do not hesitate to seek professional legal help. You must have a clarity regarding your want in the project and then you need to ensure it is properly reflected in your contract.

Remember, your hard work is worth fighting for!

11. Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of “Attorney for Creators,” and how do you envision leveraging technology and innovation to further streamline legal services and support the creative community in achieving their goals?

Anamika: I am determined to establish our platform as the top choice for every creative individual seeking legal guidance for their creative journey. With the help of cutting-edge technology and innovative strategies, we will reach out to every corner of India to become the go-to legal solution for all creative professionals. I am constantly working in that direction.

 


 

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