Media, Entertainment and Intellectual Property

entertainment-law-rotating-picClients who rely on Peter Skolnik’s counseling and litigation services span the gamut of media and entertainment industry segments. Peter meets their needs with the experience built through decades as a litigator and professor of publishing and international copyright law.  His prior careers in theater, film, television, and as a literary agent further inform his approach to entertainment counseling, transactions and litigation.

Regularly recognized in The Best Lawyers in America for his First Amendment expertise, Peter identifies and applies aggressive strategies in defending lawsuits challenging the media’s “speech” – with the goal of avoiding protracted battles. By obtaining court-ordered dismissals or convincing adversaries to withdraw voluntarily, Peter has acheived a highly successful track record defending defamation and invasion of privacy suits brought against his media clients. Those results secured his repeated designation as a New Jersey “Super Lawyer” in First Amendment and Media law.  As a critical component of his approach to media defense, Peter helps his media clients steer clear of litigation at the outset by providing pre-publication/pre-broadcast review and counseling.  His aim is to identify genuine dangers without unnecessarily sacrificing First Amendment rights; he works with media clients to minimize the likelihood of suit while preserving their rights to engage in the fullest possible measure of constitutionally-protected speech.

Entertainment Practice

Peter brings decades of both professional and legal experience to negotiating and drafting entertainment industry agreements, and to litigating and arbitrating entertainment disputes with an in-depth experiential understanding of his entertainment clients’ business and creative realities.

Peter has negotiated and drafted virtually every conceivable form of license for domestic and international rights in literary material.  Using his industry-based experience of the actual day-to-day workings in various entertainment segments, and his expertise in the intellectual property law that buttresses much of the work of those engaged in the performing arts, Peter skillfully navigates the transactional waters that set creative enterprises afloat, and he applies an insider’s knowledge to successfully litigating entertainment disputes on behalf of producers, filmmakers, show-runners, actors and other creators.

Media Practice

Peter chairs the New Jersey Media Lawyers Association (“NJMLA”) and is the former Chair of the State Bar Association’s Media Law Committee.  He is a long-time member of the Media Law Resource Center’s (“MLRC”) Defense Counsel Section, and represents broadcasters, newspaper, magazine, and internet publishers, as well as filmmakers, not-for-profit interest groups, and individual authors.

Peter has repeatedly won motions to dismiss or for summary judgment in defense of defamation and invasion of privacy litigation for media companies ranging in size from local weekly newspapers to the nation’s largest network- and cable-TV broadcasters.


Representative Matters

  • Successfully defended David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, through litigation and trial concerning early development of the enormously successful television series;
  • Represents creator/director/writer Christian Charles in copyright litigation against Jerry Seinfeld, Netflix and SONY over creation and authorship of “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee”;
  • Successfully represented musician/songwriter Jason Van Dyke in copyright litigation against the band The Lumineers;
  • Represented the Estate of Vladimir Nabokov successfully in a highly celebrated case involving infringement of the copyright to Lolita;
  • Obtained a dismissal in defense of filmmaker Jamie Johnson against an invasion of privacy suit arising from his award-winning documentary for HBO, Born Rich, in which Peter also appears;
  • Successfully negotiated contract matters for, among others, actress Ginnifer Goodwin, and prima ballerina Suzanne Farrell;
  • Prevailed in arbitration of a dispute between the former chief executive of a book packager/publisher and its owner;
  • Halted deceptive U.S. practices and infringements by a Pakistani-based Internet purveyor of phony academic degrees and “term paper” services;
  • Mounted an effective First Amendment defense of cult expert Rick Ross, in defamation litigation brought by Landmark Education concerning criticisms of Landmark’s “Forum” that appear on Ross’s web site;
  • Applied unusual doctrines of trademark law on behalf of an all-male ballet company to convince a U.S. federal court to halt trademark infringements in Japan;
  • Applied untested doctrines of U.S. copyright law on behalf of a Danish toy maker to halt infringements of its troll dolls here;
  • Mounted aggressive media defenses that resulted in plaintiffs voluntarily withdrawing complaints challenging “speech” in a major cable broadcaster’s sports programming, and in a Canadian publisher’s political magazine.


  • Defamation defense
  • Invasion of privacy defense
  • First Amendment rights
  • Copyright and trademark infringement
  • Idea submission and ownership
  • Talent/management disputes
  • Contract disputes
  • Access to courts for televising proceedings


  • Pre-publication/pre-broadcast review
  • Libel readings
  • Shield law/reporters’ privilege counseling
  • Copyright/trademark ownership, registration, and enforcement
  • Internet safe harbors
  • International copyright issues
  • International trademark issues


  • Rights acquisition and licensing agreements
  • Production agreements
  • Domestic and foreign publishing licenses
  • Performance rights licenses to literary materials
  • Collaboration and ghostwriter agreements
  • Book distribution agreements
  • Author-agent agreements
  • Sales of publishing assets




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