ELLA is an initiative of Tulane Law School’s pro bono program, the Tipitina’s Foundation, and the Arts Council of New Orleans. It was formed in January 2005 in response to the overwhelming need for legal services by artists and entertainers who could not otherwise afford to hire attorneys to protect and enforce their rights. An entertainment law attorney who is an expert in intellectual property issues supervises Tulane law students as they help provide pro bono legal advice.
ELLA has served more than 400 individuals since January 2005. ELLA provides continuing legal advice and education to its clients, who may avail themselves of a variety of legal services. Clients often seek counsel for more than one concern. As an example, a prominent New Orleans band recently sought guidance in protecting their copyrights. Under the attorney’s supervision, the Tulane pro bono students helped the band incorporate a publishing company, filed the copyrights with the Library of Congress, helped the songwriters and newly-formed publishing company register with BMI, and developed an operating agreement for the company. In this manner, ELLA’s holistic approach preempts future legal problems by establishing a sound framework for conducting business and recouping revenue from intellectual property. ELLA has assisted local artists with life rights issues, sync licenses, mechanical licenses, and master use licenses for film and soundtracks. Scores of artists have also benefited from ELLA research and assistance with issues outside of the entertainment industry , such as landlord-tenant disputes and successions to help clients establish the documentation needed to secure post-Katrina housing settlements.
ELLA works by:
- Providing comprehensive, direct legal advice to low-to-moderate income artists and musicians in the region.
- Assisting with cases from concept to completion with a case resolution rate above ninety percent.
- Addressing issues germane to the entertainment industry, such as copyright, trademark and other issues arising from intellectual property law; contract creation, negotiation and review; licensing; business formation; non-profit incorporation; dispute resolution; performance rights education and registration.
- Generating content and sample forms accessible to the public and available for free download on websites, including probono.net, lawhelp.org, and artscouncilofneworleans.org.