Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Article: Oscar Law

Reid K. Weisbord (Rutgers School of Law) and Jordan Bondurant (Rutgers School of Law) recently published, Oscar Law, Alabama Law Review, forthcoming. Provided below is an Abstract:

In most vocational fields, trade associations promote their industry’s common business interests by performing various community-building functions, including the establishment of awards for outstanding professional accomplishments. In the entertainment industry, however, the elite trade associations (known as academies) are almost exclusively devoted to the presentation and production of achievement awards, a ritual that has evolved into its own cottage industry. By televising the year’s best performances in a stylized media format now firmly etched in the American cultural zeitgeist, entertainment academies promote their membership’s shared economic interests in stimulating consumer demand for their respective performing arts industries.

This Article breaks new ground by examining entertainment awards from a legal perspective. It begins by asserting two related claims: first, that the ritual presentation of elite entertainment awards has matured into its own distinct industry which now represents an important microeconomy generating hundreds of millions of dollars in direct annual turnover; and, second, that the law plays a singularly pivotal role in protecting and regulating the entertainment awards industry. The Article then develops the latter claim into a descriptive account of “Oscar Law” by identifying the legal doctrines, principles, and regulations relevant to this unique field.

The Article’s descriptive account presents a cross-cutting survey of intersections between law and the entertainment awards industry. Those intersections implicate matters of antitrust, contracts, corporate governance, federal broadcasting regulation, intellectual property (copyright and trademark), media, nonprofit tax exemption, property, income tax, and trespass, among other legal subfields. The resulting analysis represents the first comprehensive, rigorously sourced, scholarly legal examination of the entertainment awards industry, with a particular focus on the most elite awards: Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Tonys, and Golden Globes.


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