LLA Interview Features Yemisi Falaye, Head of Legal and Business Developmet, The Temple Company.


Yemisi Falaye is a seasoned entertainment lawyer with a flourishing career spanning decades, and a bevy of awards and recognitions underneath my belt. She has worked with and represented some of the biggest names in the music and film industry, providing them with Legal and Managerial services.

She possess excellent knowledge of the dynamics of the Intellectual Property, Entertainment Law, Company Secretarial and Immigration industries in Nigeria; as well as general corporate commercial law practice in Nigeria. She also possess professional working relationship with relevant regulatory bodies in these industries and general corporate supervisory bodies in Nigeria.

In this inspiring interview, she takes us through her journey and obstacles she has overcome in the industry. Read and Be Inspired!

Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming an entertainment lawyer in Africa? What initially drew you to this field?

While I was in the university studying law, I had a few older friends in the entertainment industry who would randomly request for my advice and sometimes my assistance in legal matters. At this point, I started paying attention to the (entertainment) industry. I tried in my capacity then (when I was in the university) to build my network in the industry because I just knew that I belonged there. This network spread continued and is still in progress.

Fast forward to when I got called to bar and started working in my then law firm (Dentons ACAS-Law), my zeal to make a positive impact in the unstructured industry grew even more. Also, we discovered in the firm that entertainment business in Nigeria was fast becoming a big deal. The management of the firm therefore decided to make the Entertainment Law practice a standalone department. Fortunately, I was appointed the lead of the department. 

As I mentioned earlier, the industry was highly unstructured. There was a huge lacuna particularly in the legal area of the industry. So many creatives got into trouble or lost lots of money because of the lack of legal guidance. We saw this gap in the firm and worked towards making a positive impact in that regard. I am still on it till date.

How long have you been practicing as an entertainment lawyer, and what motivated you to specialize in this area of law?

As I said earlier, I have been practicing entertainment law from the minute I got called to bar in 2005, even though subtly. The full-blown entertainment law practice however kicked in in 2016 when Dentons ACAS-Law created the Entertainment Law department and made me the head of the department. The lack of legal support for the creatives motivated me to specialize in Entertainment law

What are some of the major challenges you’ve encountered in your career and how did you overcome them?

The lack of adequate statute, law, etc in the Nigerian legal system addressing media and entertainment law is a major challenge faced by Entertainment Law practitioners in Nigeria. As an entertainment lawyer, I have had (even till date) to conduct a lot of research and bending of existing laws to fit media and entertainment law; also to protect creatives. Thankfully though, the recently enacted Copyright Act is sort of a breath of fresh air in the legal space of the creative industry. I look forward to more laws being enacted to make the practice conducive and make creativity safe in Nigeria. 

Secondly, a large number of creatives, business owners, individuals do not know about their IP rights that may fall into media and entertainment law, and because of this, they do not invest as much into the protection of their assets or in lawyers especially at the beginning stages. It is usually a tedious task to convince creatives about their IP rights and how they can maximally convert the same to monetary value.

Thirdly, we do not have enough legal practitioners who specialize in entertainment law. I guess not all lawyers are patient enough to absorb the drama that comes with working with a creative.

In what ways do you believe the entertainment industry in Africa is unique compared to other regions? What opportunities and challenges does this uniqueness present for entertainment lawyers?

The entertainment landscape in Africa stands out due to its remarkable Cultural Diversity. This diversity results in a wide spectrum of artistic expressions, creating a unique entertainment domain with distinct legal considerations.

The Emerging Market of the African entertainment industry adds to its distinctiveness, as it is currently experiencing a growth phase with significant investment and expansion prospects. This uniqueness offers entertainment lawyers the opportunity to take a leading role in drafting innovative agreements and legal frameworks.

  • Opportunities:

Legal Framework Development: As the industry continues to expand, there is an opportunity to develop legal frameworks tailored to suit the nuances of African entertainment, covering aspects such as copyright, licensing, and entertainment-related agreements.

  • Challenges:

Piracy and Copyright Enforcement: The insufficient enforcement of copyright laws in certain African nations contributes to piracy and poses challenges in protecting the intellectual property rights of artists.

What are some common legal issues that arise in the entertainment industry in Africa, and how do you approach resolving them?

The entertainment industry, much like other sectors, encounters its share of legal challenges. Common issues that surface in the African entertainment industry encompass:


Licensing and Clearances: Obtaining licenses and clearances for copyrighted materials, such as music or visuals, is imperative. Frequently, industry creators overlook the necessary clearances, creating potential legal complications. This omission opens the door to legal disputes. Entertainment lawyers guide clients through the licensing procedure, ensuring proper rights through the creation of clear and equitable contracts, negotiation of favorable terms, and mediation of disputes.

Intellectual Property Protection: As previously discussed, protecting intellectual property rights is a primary concern. Challenges like piracy, unauthorized distribution, and copyright infringement are pervasive. Addressing this involves advising clients on copyright registration, drafting licensing agreements, and pursuing legal action against infringing parties.

Royalty and Revenue Sharing: The distribution of royalties and revenue among artistes, producers, and distributors can lead to conflicts. Entertainment lawyers play a pivotal role in negotiating transparent revenue-sharing arrangements and upholding compliance with contractual commitments.

Contracts are a crucial part of the entertainment business. Can you share insights into negotiating and drafting contracts that protect the interests of your clients while considering the unique aspects of the African market?

Negotiating and drafting contracts in the African entertainment market requires a tailored approach that considers both the interests of clients and the unique characteristics of the region. These are a few things to consider:

Contract Duration and Termination: This defines the timeframe for which the contract is valid and lay out the conditions under which the contract can be concluded or ended prematurely. This not only provides structure and clarity to an agreement but also serve as a mechanism to manage unforeseen changes and protect the interests of all parties involved.

Flexible Dispute Resolution: Given the complexities of litigation in select African jurisdictions, integrating alternative dispute resolution mechanisms—such as arbitration or mediation—into contracts is advisable. Clauses should incorporate provisions for selecting neutral and reputable forums.

Language: Draft contracts in clear and concise language that is easily understood by all parties, taking into account any language barriers to avoid misinterpretation.

Intellectual Property Ownership: Given the prevalence of piracy in some African regions, robust intellectual property protection is crucial. Contracts should contain clear provisions on ownership, licensing, and enforcement of intellectual property rights, with mechanisms for addressing piracy.

What advice would you give to young female professionals aspiring to specialize in entertainment law in Africa?

  • Educational Foundation:

Begin by acquiring a strong educational foundation in law. Pursue relevant courses and degrees in entertainment law, intellectual property law, and contract law. Continuous learning is key to staying current in this dynamic field.

  • Stay Informed:

The entertainment industry is ever evolving. Stay updated on industry trends, legal developments, and emerging technologies that impact the field.

  • Hands-On Experience:

Gain practical experience through internships, or entry-level positions in law firms, entertainment companies, or legal departments. Practical exposure will hone your skills and offer real-world insights.

  • Confidence and Assertiveness:

Be confident in your abilities and assertive in your career pursuits. Women in law often face unique challenges, but your confidence will command respect and recognition.

  • Passion and Dedication:

Cultivate a genuine passion for the entertainment industry. Dedication to your chosen field will drive you to excel, stay current, and navigate challenges with enthusiasm.

Are there any specific skills or qualities that you believe are essential for success in this field?

Legal Expertise and Industry Knowledge: A strong foundation in contract law, intellectual property law, and entertainment law is fundamental. In-depth knowledge of copyright, trademark, licensing, and contract drafting is essential for providing effective legal counsel.

Stay informed about current trends, emerging technologies, and industry developments in entertainment, including music, film, television, gaming, and digital media.

Communication Skills: Excellent written and verbal communication skills are necessary for conveying legal concepts clearly to clients, stakeholders, and opposing parties. Clear and concise communication is key when drafting contracts, providing legal advice, and representing clients. You should be able to convey complex legal concepts in an understandable manner.

Attention to Detail: Precision in contract drafting, intellectual property protection, and compliance is critical. Small oversights can have significant legal consequences in the entertainment world.

How do you see the African entertainment industry evolving in the next few years, and what role do you think entertainment lawyers will play in shaping this evolution?

Global Recognition: With the rise of international collaborations, African artistes are gaining global recognition. Entertainment lawyers will facilitate cross-border partnerships, address legal issues related to international contracts, navigate complex copyright and licensing matters and distribution deals on a global scale while protecting their rights.

Digital Transformation: The digital revolution will continue to reshape the industry, with streaming, digital distribution, and online content consumption becoming more prevalent. Entertainment lawyers will negotiate digital rights, licensing agreements, and address legal challenges arising from digital content distribution.

Regulatory Frameworks: With the industry’s growth, legal and regulatory frameworks will evolve to address new challenges. Entertainment lawyers will contribute to shaping industry-friendly regulations, advising clients on compliance, and navigating legal changes.

Connect with Yemisi Falaye: https://yemisifalaye.com/

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