Interview with Mr. Benjamin Ackley

By Ben Weisman| Staff Writer

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Benjamin Ackley, an associate at Pryor Cashman. Mr. Ackley has worked at Pryor Cashman for several years and has established himself as a prominent litigator in entertainment and commercial law. Since these two areas of law frequently involve issues that span across borders, Mr. Ackley’s work is international by nature.

When asked about similarities between commercial law and entertainment law litigation, Mr. Ackley said they both require basic trial advocacy skills. For example, neither is a specialized area of law like bankruptcy or admiralty law where special rules and procedure apply. At the end of the day, litigation in both entertainment law and commercial require the same skills.

Much of Mr. Ackley’s practice involves working with entertainment production companies.  These companies are moving more and more content into streaming based services, such as Netflix. He believes that this push will move at an exponential pace, and expressed concern that this growth is where complexities arise in the international law aspect, as many smaller entertainment production companies are not yet familiar with the complex realities of international law. Intellectual property protection becomes more difficult when streaming content to many different countries is the norm.

Protecting intellectual property is more difficult because more and more companies are breaking into the entertainment field. For example, tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Oculus are now producing their own content. Since these companies are unfamiliar with the law and procedure in this field, producing their own content is difficult. He compared these new companies to established companies, like Disney or Warner Brothers, who have dealt with complex international intellectual property issues for decades. Mr. Ackley described how he most frequently used the International Film and Television Alliance arbitration forum when it came to international law.

Mr. Ackley described his day-to-day routine, and how it had changed as he advanced in his career. For the first several years, his primary responsibilities were to read and write. His job involved a lot of document review and preparing first drafts of court papers to be filed. As he advanced, his duties have transitioned into working more directly with clients and helping them problem solve. He has taken on responsibilities with his firm’s international clients. On the commercial side, almost every case he works on involves internationally based issues.

When asked what advice he has for someone trying to establish a career in the entertainment law field, Mr. Ackley recommended that new attorneys should become very familiar with specific areas of law that frequently come up in the day-to-day practice. Particularly, he noted that privacy law and defamation law are of paramount importance, and that having some background in general negotiating is crucial.

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