THE DEALMAKER: “The business and tech sides are moving faster than the law world is moving,” says Stephen Smith of Greenberg Glusker, whose passion for the law is evident in conversation — indeed, Smith is disappointed when a case settles, as then there is no chance for establishing case law precedent.
“Money and technical advances have changed everything,” Smith says. In the last year, he successfully negotiated and closed a deal in which vidgame publisher Ubisoft acquired rights in all media in perpetuity for its line of Tom Clancy-branded games — the first pact of its kind.
“A long time ago, Clancy saw the videogame world forming — he was ahead of the game as far as the book world and motion picture world were concerned,” says Smith, who adds the Ubisoft-Clancy deal was a natural extension of licensing pacts that had been in place for years and had yielded many top-selling games.
Smith sees the videogame world increasingly aligned with the Internet world and traditional entertainment content providers. As budgets soar for vidgames while revenues also climb, his job is to try to make order out the litigation flying around. The legal chaos is the interesting part of “new media” law: “It will fall out, but the chaos is exacerbated by the fact that the technology is moving too fast, and no one can
figure out what’s its worth yet.”
DEALMAKER DOS “Since I’m a litigator — you ought to have a litigator read the deal. It’s about risk and the allocation of risk: Understand with open eyes what you are taking about and what risk you are giving to the other side. Transactional lawyers are optimists, litigators are pessimists.”
DEALMAKER DON’TS: “Don’t get drunk on the deal. Especially in the entertainment business, everyone wants to make a movie, make a vidgame; it’s a business, and if you want to make more than one, you can’t lose your shirt on the first.”
TOP DEALMAKERS ENCOUNTERED: “Bert Fields, and Skip Brittenham, Ken Ziffren and Matt Johnson at Ziffren, Brittenham.”