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Beyond the Printed Page: An Overview of Licensing Comic Book Properties to the Film, Television Industries

SKU: IP3900
Total Credits
1 - 1.5
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Guardians of the Galaxy; Wonder Woman; Riverdale; The Tick; Deadpool — comic book properties dominate film, television, mobile apps, and videogames. They are the driving force behind the hottest toys and apparel for the holidays. Comic book properties are also ripe for being turned into unlicensed derivative works, such as fan-art and fan-merchandise, often giving rise to infringement suits. This CLE will introduce lawyers to key issues involved in the audiovisual and merchandise licensing of comic book properties.

Topics include:

  • Preserving chain of title and underlying rights in comic book properties
  • Audiovisual option/purchase agreements
  • Key aspects of merchandising agreements
  • The thin line between fan art and copyright infringement
  • Q&A

Lecturer Bios

Thomas A. Crowell, Esq.

Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. is a partner in the law firm of Lane Sash and Larrabee, LLP, in the firm's New York office. He is also the Director from Practice, emeritus, of The Indie Film Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Mr. Crowell counsels clients on a wide range of entertainment law and intellectual property rights issues, in practice areas that range from film and television to comic book publishing, music, and the graphic arts. He is the series editor of the Focal Press "Pocket Lawyer for...." series of legal guide books and author of both "The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers" (Focal Press, 2ed. 2011) and the first dedicated legal guide for the comic book industry: "The Pocket Lawyer for Comic Book Creators" (Focal Press 2014). Mr. Crowell received his JD from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he graduated cum Laude, Order of the Coif. He is admitted to the bars of New York, New Jersey, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lillian Laserson, Esq.

Lillian Laserson, Esq. is a sole practitioner representing artists, writers, producers, publishers, and others in transactional matters primarily involving publishing, licensing, copyright, and entertainment law. She is head of legal and business affairs for Playing on Air, producer of short contemporary plays for public radio and podcast. Prior to forming her own firm, she was Senior Vice President and General Counsel of DC Comics where she established and ran the company’s in-house legal department for twenty years.

Jeff Trexler, Esq.

Jeff Trexler, Esq. (JD, Yale; PhD, Duke) is an attorney and Associate Director of the Fashion Law Institute. Jeff has worked with media and fashion clients from around the world on issues ranging from start-up formation and tax strategy to corporate ethics and intellectual property.

Stephen Swalsky, Esq.

Stephen Swalsky is a former Vice President of Business Affairs at truTV, a Turner Broadcasting System cable television network. His primary duties at truTV included structuring, drafting and negotiating (i) development and production deals as well as executive producer, producer, consultant, on-air talent and performer agreements; (ii) acquisition, license, integration and programming agreements; and (iii) co-production and/or profit-sharing opportunities. Swalsky was also responsible for advising, counseling, and consulting with network executives on a variety of television development and business affairs matters as well as cultivating and maintaining extensive relationships with key industry leaders at talent agencies and entertainment law firms.

Prior to joining truTV, Swalsky acquired extensive legal and business affairs experience in the entertainment field at a variety of law firms and entertainment companies in New York as well as through his own experience of being a recording and touring bass player. Swalsky was Senior Counsel, VH1 Business and Legal Affairs where he served as a television development and production attorney for VH1, as well as for CMT and Logo, all MTV Networks programming services.

Swalsky received his Bachelors of Arts degree (Special) in Psychology from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He received his LL.B. from The University of Alberta Law School and did a visiting year at the University of Ottawa Law School in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He is admitted to practice in Ontario, Canada, and New York. Additionally, Mr. Swalsky is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Katie Lane, Esq.

Katie Lane, Esq. is a comic book and entertainment attorney from Portland, OR, and the founder of In addition to her legal practice, Lane works to improve creators' legal literacy through articles, workshops, and DIY tools. She tweets about law, negotiation, and Star Trek from @_katie_lane and you can email her at

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