James G. SammataroPartner

James Sammataro - Miami Entertainment Attorney and Law Firm

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James Sammataro, head of Stroock’s Media and Entertainment Group and managing partner of the Miami office, is an entertainment lawyer with a national practice and a global reach.

Fortune 500 companies, media clients, industry-dominating celebrities and professional sports team trust James to represent them in delicate, high-value, high-profile disputes. His trial experience spans copyright, trademark, defamation, First Amendment, rights-of-publicity, non-compete, idea-submission and profit-participation disputes.

James also guides entertainment deals to fruition managing both day-to-day and breakthrough transactions on behalf of television and radio stations, esports franchises, concert promoters, touring companies, prominent film distributors, financiers and production companies, and A list musical artists. He also provides legal counsel to startup entertainment enterprises from infancy to full bloom by negotiating their talent, content, production, affiliate, syndication and distribution agreements.

James has overseen concerts featuring Shakira, Justin Bieber, Snoop Dog, Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Chris Brown, Romeo Santos, Alejandro Sanz, J. Balvin, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee and Don Omar, and has been intimately involved with a number of prominent Broadway and off-Broadway productions.

Due to his keen insights into the legal issues involving the protection of content, media companies  hire James to manage and defend their valuable intellectual property (acquiring, financing, producing and distributing films) and to provide pre-broadcast risk assessment.

The author of the definitive Film and Multimedia and the Law, James frequently is called upon to provide legal commentary. He is a fixture in the entertainment trades, commenting on emerging trends and pivotal legal decisions, for The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Deadline, Variety, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Entertainment Tonight and USA Today.

Variety named James to its  annual “Legal Impact Report” in 2018 and Billboard has ranked him among the Music Industry’s Top Lawyers in 2016 and 2017. James has also been recognized repeatedly by Best Lawyers, The Legal 500 United States and Super Lawyers. James won the Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing in 2016.


Representative Matters

  • Major media companies, including Fremantle, The Orchard, Televisa, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Warner Bros. and Spotify in copyright infringement actions. 
  • Lee Daniels in a defamation action brought by Sean Penn.
  • Theatrical productions, Rock of Ages, Alvin & The Chipmunks and Fuerzabruta
  • Bumin-Murray in a dispute involving The Real World and Road Rules.
  • 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 copyright litigation against MTV Networks, Viacom International Inc., Viacom, Inc., Bad Boy Films, Inc. and Bad Boy Records, LLC involving the television franchise, Making the Band.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • NFL Properties, LLC, Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears Football Club in connection with Super Bowl XLI, obtaining a temporary injunction and order, permitting the seizure and impoundment of counterfeited goods.
  • Yahoo! Latin America in securing the needed licenses to stream concerts in Latin America.
  • 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 Mega TV’s broadcast Ahora Con Oscar Haza.
  • Prevailed on summary judgment on a fair use defense in a copyright infringement action brought by author Norberto Fuentes against Maria Elvira Salazar Live.
  • Negotiated the exclusive media and still photography rights to the funeral of Anna Nicole Smith with Entertainment Tonight.
  • Secured a defense verdict in a bench trial in a copyright infringement action brought against Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc. involving classic Salsa songs.
  • 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

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

Speeches & Events

James 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, 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:
  • “Artificial Intelligence Ushers in the Era of Music Moneyball,” The Hollywood Reporter, September 12, 2017
  • “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, 16th edition, 2017
Quoted in:
  • “Has This Man Sued You? A ‘Copyright Troll’ Takes on Hollywood,” The Hollywood Reporter, April 6, 2018
  • “Lawyers: Unsealed Bill O’Reilly settlement legally suspect, hard to enforce,” Daily Journal, April 6, 2018
  • “Can Kenya Barris Really Leave ABC for Netflix?” Variety, April 6, 2018
  • “9th Circuit Affirms ‘Blurred Lines’ Ruling,” Daily Journal, March 22, 2018
  • “Copyright Verdict Against Robin Thicke Hit ‘Blurred Lines’ Stands,” Bloomberg BNA's Patent, Trademark and Copyright Journal, March 22, 2018

Admitted To Practice

Florida; New York; District of Columbia; California

U.S. District Court, Central District of California; U.S. District Court, Southern District of California; U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California; U.S. District Court, Northern District of California; U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida; U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida; U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida; U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York; U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York

U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit


Education

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

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