As of July 1, 2021, all NCAA athletes will be able to profit from their name, image and likeness (“NIL”). One of the last dominos to fall in the players’ rights movement was the unanimous Supreme Court ruling that the NCAA cannot enforce certain rules regarding benefits that athletes can receive while in college. While this is refreshing news that is long overdue, it does not come without challenges, and a legal landscape that will be changing minute-to-minute.
Athletes will be required to navigate state law, school regulations, and NCAA rules. Some universal rules, such as a prohibition against “pay-for-play” and inducement in order for an athlete to attend a particular school, will remain. Still, it is an exciting time for NCAA athletes and the opportunities will be vast and relatively unlimited, provided they can understand the rules and laws governing compensation for NIL.
The best professional to help an athlete navigate this new world is an attorney, not an agent. Our attorneys are well versed in negotiation and contract law. Not only do we write, edit, and review contracts, we litigate them. At Bitman, O’Brien & Morat, we provide NIL, Name Image Likeness, legal services to high school, college and Olympic athletes nationwide. All other professional law practices areas are offered only in the state of Florida. A Bitman, O’Brien, & Morat attorney is vital to an athlete when procuring NIL contracts. Without an attorney by their side, an athlete could unintentionally contract away valuable rights, or engage in an illegal or impermissible contract.
Sports and entertainment law are a broad practice. It includes various legal areas as applied to athletes, celebrities, influencers, and entertainers within various industries. Providing guidance and counsel in this type of law requires experience. Our Orlando entertainment lawyers understand many areas of law. This includes contract, commercial, business, corporate, employment, intellectual property, and torts. Our Orlando entertainment lawyers understand many areas of law. We are also well versed in:
The practice of sports law focuses on a target industry rather than a separate and distinct body of law. The most common issues facing the sports world are:
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Entertainment law involves various intellectual property questions issues surrounding copyright, trademark, licensing, defamation, privacy, and first amendment issues. Within the arena of intellectual property law you have issues surrounding trademarks, copyright laws, and the right of publicity.
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Ronnie Bitman is the co-founder and managing partner of Bitman, O’Brien & Morat, PLLC. He’s regarded as one of Florida’s leading lawyers, and he heads our firm’s sports and entertainment law practice group. His expertise helped him earn honors like:
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Florida high school students can not currently benefit financially from their name, image, and likeness. The Florida High School Athletic Association governs these rules, and presently there is no exception similar to the NCAA’s policy and the new Florida law.
There is nothing in the current NCAA policy or Florida law that prevents an athlete from entering into exclusive contracts. As such, an athlete could pigeon-hole themselves into working with only one company, which could limit their compensation. Alternatively, an athlete could demand that a company not use any other athlete. An attorney can help you review the contract, including any hidden terms, to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.
Reporting of all contracts are required, even if they are not in writing. Presently, international students are not permitted to profit off of their name, image, and likeness pursuant to Federal law. Taxes must be reported on all income consistent with IRS rules. Failure to abide by NCAA policies and school regulations could result in being declared ineligible, or worse (for example, forfeiture of games, etc). Punishments have not changed for violation of the rules. The best thing an athlete can do to protect themselves from non-compliance issues, is to seek the guidance of an attorney.
The NCAA NIL policy requires that contracts for compensation be disclosed to the post-secondary educational institution at which the athlete is enrolled. The purpose of this is to ensure compliance with NCAA rules such that eligibility is not affected. This limits the athlete’s ability to keep contracts confidential. Still, certain confidentiality provisions may be permissible. Contact at attorney to review options.
An athlete may want to sell apparel as part of their effort to capitalize on the new NIL rules. While it would be tempting to sell a jersey with your name and number on it, it is not permitted. The school still owns the rights to a vast array of intellectual property, such as logos, names, typography, colors, sayings, etc. In order for an athlete to use this intellectual property in their pursuit of compensation, they will have to obtain licensing rights from the schools themselves if permitted by state law. This is yet another legal hurdle, but one that may be surmountable with the help of an attorney. Still, grey areas exist which will necessitate the assistance of an attorney.
Minors can still benefit from these new rules, but will have additional hurdles to jump through. In, Florida, such a minor will have to commence legal proceedings consistent with Florida Statute 743.08 and 743.09.
Many schools have already implemented NIL policies to assist their athletes in navigating this new terrain. Many of these policies are more restrictive than the NCAA policy. These policies reiterate the major points of the NCAA policy, including a prohibition of “pay-for-play” and inducements. Schools are also making it clear that athletes are not permitted to use university or athletic department related marks and logos, including uniforms. This includes wearing school related apparel while engaging in endorsements. In order to use such intellectual property, separate licensing agreements will need to be secured by the athletes. Many schools have also placed prohibitions on endorsements, such as the endorsement of alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, steroids, gambling, illegal firearms, or sexually oriented businesses. Additionally, there may be prohibitions against entering into contracts with school partners, or entities with which the school does business.
Even though not all states have passed NIL laws, Florida has passed its own NIL law effective July 1, 2021. The statute permits compensation for the use of an athletes name, image, and likeness provided that compensation is equal to the market value of the name, image, and likeness. This compensation cannot be in exchange for athletic performance, or attendance at a particular school. An athlete cannot request fans send them money via venmo/cashapp/zelle/etc. The law permits an athlete to use an athlete agent or an attorney to represent him or her for the purpose of securing compensation. It even permits minors to contract and be compensated provided they follow Florida law in the approval of such contracts. Generally, an athlete cannot engage in a contract that conflicts with its school team contract, and must disclose the contract to his or her institution. The law also requires that post-secondary institutes provide financial skills workshops for its athletes. For more information on the Florida NIL law, contact an attorney at Bitman, O’Brien, & Morat.
The sands are shifting with respect to the rules of the game as the NCAA, schools, and athletes scramble to make sense of the new rules. The NCAA adopted an interim policy on June 30, 2021, that in effect, will permit athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. The policy provides certain guidelines such as:
During the interim NIL policy, the NCAA’s expectation is that schools and student-athletes will not use NIL transactions to compensate for athletic participation or achievement or as an improper inducement.
It is important to note that this policy is not retroactive. Any NIL activity before July 1, 2021 is still considered impermissible.
The NCAA will undoubtedly implement formal rules in the near future. An attorney is best suited to help you understand and traverse these new rules.
Sports lawyers represent the legal interests of anyone in the sports profession. This includes any type of athlete, single players, coaches, and, in some cases, entire teams. An Orlando sports lawyer handles business dealings, negotiates contracts, resolves disputes, defends their clients, and more.
How much your Orlando entertainment lawyer charges will vary. Lawyers often charge on billable hours or a retainer fee. However, it’s important these fees may not cover the costs of various legal documents or fees.
An Orlando entertainment lawyer protects represents the legal interests of creative companies and people. This includes all niches of the industry. They may work with a client in film, music, publishing, theater, TV, or a similar field.