PRACTICE AREAS


James Sammataro is the National Head of Stroock’s Entertainment Litigation Practice Group and the Managing Partner of Stroock’s Miami office.

He is an entertainment lawyer with a national practice and a global reach.

Hollywood, New York and Miami trust Mr. Sammataro to represent them in high-value, high profile, entertainment disputes involving industry-dominating figures (celebrities, media companies and professional sports teams) and industry-wide ramifications. His experience as lead trial counsel spans a range of subjects, including copyrights, trademarks, defamation, First Amendment issues, rights of publicity, non-competes, idea submission and profit participation disputes.

Mr. Sammataro’s cases frequently receive national media attention, including coverage in The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, Variety, Billboard, New York Times, New York Post, TMZ, Entertainment Tonight and USA Today

Mr. Sammataro also guides entertainment deals to fruition. He serves media clients such as television and radio stations, concert promoters, prominent artists and managers, touring companies, magazines, newspapers, content providers, production companies, distributors and financiers. He performs both day-to-day and breakthrough transactions. He and his team frequently assist start-up entertainment enterprises from infancy to full bloom by negotiating their talent, content, production, affiliate, syndication and distribution agreements.

Recognized by Billboard as one of the nation’s top music lawyers, Mr. Sammataro navigates live stage and concert promotion clients through productions of Broadway and off-Broadway shows and concerts featuring Shakira, Justin Bieber, Snoop Dog, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Carlos Vives, Chris Brown, Romeo Santos, Alejandro Sanz, J. Balvin, Nicky Jam, Ricardo Arjona, Daddy Yankee and Dom Omar.

Mr. Sammataro also counsels motion picture clients on how to manage their valuable intellectual property rights (acquiring, financing, producing and distributing films) while staying vigilant to legal risks and potential brand integration.

The author of Film and Multimedia and the Law, Mr. Sammataro is frequently asked to provide legal commentary and is a fixture in the entertainment trades, commenting of emerging trends and pivotal legal decisions, including Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’” trial (USA Today, Associated Press), Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” trial (BloombergBillboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Law360), Kesha’s dispute with Sony and Dr. Luke (Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Mashable), Hulk Hogan’s verdict against Gawker (Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald) and Melania Trump’s defamation lawsuit (Variety). 

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS

  • Represented Lee Daniels in a defamation action brought by Sean Penn.
  • Prevailed in a two-week jury trial in a copyright infringement action brought against Mega TV in which the plaintiff sought $8 million dollars in damages, and the jury awarded a zero dollar, complete defense verdict.
  • Successfully represented the San Antonio Spurs in a putative class action lawsuit securing the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
  • Defeated Jenni Rivera Enterprises’ attempt to enjoin the production and broadcast of an unauthorized television series on Univision.
  • Secured a dismissal of Lindsay Lohan’s right of publicity claim against Pitbull, Ne-Yo and Afrojack in a dispute involving “Give Me Everything.” 
  • Obtained a $7.5 million settlement on behalf of Trans Continental Television Productions, Inc. in a complex litigation against MTV Networks, Viacom International Inc., Viacom, Inc., Bad Boy Films, Inc. and Bad Boy Records, LLC involving novel issues of copyright law relating to the television franchise, Making the Band.
  • Represented Top Stop Music, Inc. and Top Stop Publishing, Inc. and its principal, Sergio George, in a lawsuit involving Prince Royce, which resulted in the dismissal of Prince Royce’s $5 million dollar defamation claim, and Prince Royce writing a six-figure check to buy his release.
  • Represented NFL Properties, LLC, Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears Football Club in connection with Super Bowl XLI, obtaining a temporary injunction and seizure order, permitting the seizure and impoundment of counterfeited goods.
  • Represented Yahoo! Latin America in securing the needed licenses to stream concerts in Latin America.
  • Represented Lee Daniels, Lee Daniels Entertainment, Simone Sheffield and Canyon Entertainment in a defamation action brought by Damon Dash.
  • Successfully overturned a preliminary injunction granted in favor of Arbitron, Inc. against Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc. in an action centered upon the efficacy of the Portable People Meter™ which garnered significant amicus curiae support.
  • Led a group of commercial radio broadcasters in their challenge of the fairness of the Radio Music License Committee’s allocation of ASCAP and BMI fees.
  • Defeated America-CV Network, LLC’s Emergency Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, which sought to enjoin SBS’s broadcast Ahora Con Oscar Haza.
  • Represented Fremantle Media and Fremantle Latin America in a copyright infringement action initiated by Codigo Music.  
  • Prevailed on summary judgment on a fair use doctrine on behalf of Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc., Mega Media Holdings, Inc., Telemotion Productions, Inc. and MES Productions in a copyright infringement action brought by author Norberto Fuentes.
  • Negotiated the exclusive media and still photography rights to the funeral of Anna Nicole Smith with Entertainment Tonight and Splash Media.
  • Defended among others, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Warner Bros. and Madonna in a copyright infringement brought by Aisha, which resulted in a dismissal of Aisha’s claims.
  • Secured a Temporary Restraining Order in favor of the plaintiffs, Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc. and Mega Media Holdings against Caribevision, Inc., precluding Caribevision’s imminent broadcast of Paparazziando, a Spanish-language celebrity gossip show, with a near-identical format to the plaintiffs’ wildly popular Spanish-language celebrity gossip show, Paparazzi TV.
  • Prevailed at a bench trial on behalf of the original former members of Electric Light Orchestra Part II in a trademark action initiated by Jeff Lynne over the rights to the band names, “Electric Light Orchestra,” “ELO,” “Electric Light Orchestra II,” “Electric Light Orchestra Part II,” and “ELO II.”

HONORS & AWARDS

Mr. Sammataro is grateful for the recognition by:
 
  • Billboard as one of the country’s leading music lawyers
  • Law360 as one of the top entertainment attorneys in the country
  • Best Lawyers in America in the category of Motion Pictures and Television
  • Florida Entertainment Attorney of the Year
  • The Burton Award (for excellence in legal writing)
  • “Super Lawyer” in the field of Entertainment and Sports
  • The leading legal resource for “Hispanic Hollywood”
  • The Legal 500 United States as a recommended commercial litigator

SPEECHES & EVENTS

Mr. Sammataro routinely speaks on entertainment and intellectual property matters. Select engagements include:
 
  • Making the Tour, Latin Billboards Conference, April 2016
  • Copyright and Trademark Litigation, ABA Forum on Entertainment and Sports Industries, April 2016
  • Success Stories in the Music Industry: All in the Industry Isn’t Dead, ABA Forum on Entertainment and Sports Industries, April 2015
  • Speaker, Production 101, Florida Entertainment and Sports Law Symposium, May 2013
  • Speaker, The Creation, Development, Financing, Production and Distribution of a Successful Independent Motion Picture or Documentary, The American Bar Association’s Fourth Annual International Legal Symposium on the World of Music, Film, Television and Sports, May 2, 2013
  • Speaker, 5 Moves That Will Make Or Break Your Career, Latin Billboards Conference, April 23, 2013

PUBLICATIONS

Selected articles include:
 
  • "The Turtles Finally Get Royalties, But Will It Hasten Their Extinction?" Daily Business Journal,
    June 20, 2017
  • "Decades Later, 'Stairway to Heaven' Still Dispute," Daily Business Review, February 19, 2016
  • "Problems In The 'Fight Of The Century' Class Actions," Law360, May 19, 2015
  • "Film and Multimedia and the Law," West-Thompson, 14th edition, 2015

ADMITTED TO PRACTICE

New York, 2011; District of Columbia, 2010; Florida, 2001; California, 1999

U.S. District Court, Central District of California, 1999; U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, 1999; U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, 1999; U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 1999; U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, 2008; U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, 2001; U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, 2001; U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, 2011; U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, 2011; U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, 2009


EDUCATION

J.D., cum laude, Duke University School of Law, 1999

B.A., summa cum laude, Cornell University, 1995