Wednesday February 20, 2013

Professor's new entertainment law curriculum reflects his experience

Professor Dennis Greene knows a little something about entertainment law.

Professor Dennis Greene knows a little something about entertainment law.

The former Sha Na Na band member and Columbia Pictures executive has spent more than 40 years in the entertainment industry, and has been involved in everything from performances in the movie Grease to television, theater and books.

Now, Greene has used his background in the business to create an entertainment law curriculum that embraces the spectrum of entertainment disciplines– from music to film to technology.

Greene's textbook, "The Law and Business of the Entertainment Industry," was released this year by Cognella Academic Publishing.

"Entertainment law involves some of everything. There's intellectual property law, and at the same time a lot of union issues, so a lot of labor law. Every deal is memorialized in a contract, so there's a lot of contract law. There are issues involving tort claims and Constitutional freedom of expression issues," he said. "Entertainment law spans the curriculum.

"My objective with this textbook was that, although there are curricula for each of these issues, in reality, if you are really interested in the entertainment business, it should be divided up into different fields."

Instead of simply dividing the book into types of law, Greene divided the book into fields within the industry – film, music, theater, technology and more. He said that because each field has its own legal demands and focuses, the book will be more effective for those who are interested in the business.

"Based on my experience in the industry, this is the best way to learn," he said. "I felt it would have the greatest impact if taught this way."

Another key aspect of the book is its focus on negotiation, which Greene says continues to be a vital part of the entertainment industry.

Each module of the book begins with a role-playing negotiation exercise, which gives students an opportunity to practice and improve their negotiation skills in preparation for real-life entertainment law work.

Using the textbook with his entertainment law class at Dayton Law last semester, Greene said he was impressed with the students' performance in the negotiation exercises.

"I was surprised by people's aggression and abilities in negotiations. It was gratifying to see students really coming out and doing some good, tough lawyering," he said. "Learning negotiation skills is very important because of the transactional nature of the field."

More than just effectively teaching legal principals, Greene hopes the book will be a learning tool for people who are passionate about the business he has spent several decades immersed in.

"My goal for the book is to give people interested in the field a good approach. I think it can be a very good learning tool, even for people interested in the entrepreneurial side," he said. "Hopefully it will be helpful to people who are interested in the business of the business, not just the law of the business."

For more information, contact Katie Wright at 937-229-4601 or