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Specialist Guide to the

Global Leaders in Media Law Practice


Home to a thriving digital media market, a transforming audiovisual industry and a world leader in video game development, Canada is undergoing rapid growth across multiple sectors.

The broadcast environment has been enhanced by the adoption of digital media formats while the film sector maintains an upward trend with Toronto hosting almost 700 productions in 2016.

According to the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), the film industry makes C$5.5 billion a year across the country.

The industry is backed by a federal budget that supports creative entrepreneurs such as independent producers.  

Reynolds Mastin, President and CEO of CMPA said: “Evolving technology has allowed Canadians to access content through a vast number of new digital channels.

Modernization of the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act must ensure that Internet Service Providers, wireless services, and over-the-top platforms contribute to the growth and

success of the Canadian production sector from which they benefit.”

The 2017 budget, unveiled in March, includes a C$1.8 billion investment in the cultural sector, over a 10-year period starting from 2018.

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) highlighted the importance of working with the government to maintain

industry growth.  

The ACTRA emphasises key issues such as the review of broadcast regulation to protect consumers and support Canadian content and protecting performer’s intellectual property rights.


Stephen Waddell, National Executive Director of ACTRA, said: “We’re eager to work with the government to create effective policy that will grow Canada’s cultural industries.”


Cassels Brock & Blackwell is one of the most established entertainment and copyright law practices in Canada. The firm is appointed by publishers, producers, broadcasters, animators and concert promoters. Among work, the team assisted Canadian Football League with Grey Cup performance agreements for the Black Eyed Peas and Shania Twain. Other focus areas include gaming and sports law.

Gowling WLG is an established leader in the area of media law. The firm works across several service areas that include entertainment, defamation, gaming, advertising and social media. Each division is managed by a dedicated partner, which means in-depth industry knowledge and broad expertise. The firm’s size and scale amplified after Gowlings merged with UK firm Wragge Lawrence Grahman & Co in January 2016, creating double the capacity nationally and abroad.

The Stikeman Elliott media team specialises in entertainment and sports law and has extensive experience in the financing of films and television programs. Other focus areas include licensing of intellectual property including publicity rights and rights of personality. The team also advised on competition issues arising from the purchase of a newspaper chain and advise on the sale of sports franchises.


Dentons advises several Hollywood studios, US-based independent production companies and television networks on communications and entertainment law. Vancouver-based Gordon W. Esau manages a practice that is visible across a range of cases that include mergers and acquisition. The team also assists US-based animation and visual effects companies on establishing Canadian studios. Well positioned nationally, the firm has offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Goodmans has a high profile portfolio of clients from the entertainment sector. The practice specialises in film, television, digital media and book publishing. The entertainment law group is managed by David Zitzerman who has practiced entertainment law exclusively for 25 years. Working with his team, Mr Zitzerman represents American and Canadian studios, broadcasters, independent producers, game companies and talent agencies.

Lawyers at McCarthy Tétrault have in-depth knowledge of cyber security, privacy, data protection and copyright. Montréal-based Véronique Wattiez Larose is one of the firm’s key contacts with experience advising clients from the video game and music industries.

With a cross-border focus, Torys regularly advises international clients in a range of service areas, from traditional media and corporate transactions to commercial exploitation. In representative work, the team acted for Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in its USD 142.4 million acquisition of a 17.9 per cent stake in Entertainment One from Marwyn Value Investors.


DLA Piper has seven offices across Canada with diverse market coverage. The firm’s capacity was expanded in March 2015 after the firm merged with Vancouver-based law firm Davis. Leading practitioner Chris Bennett works with regional partners representing the sports and entertainment industries. The firm represents local and international clients on finance, corporate issues, production and rights acquisition and competition law.

McMillan’s media work ranges from financing, syndication and sponsorship through to securing international production and distribution rights. The media, communications and entertainment team, managed by Desmond Balakrishnan, advises recording artists, gaming companies, film and television producers and multimedia companies.

Toronto-based Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond specialises in entertainment, marketing and copyright. Diana Cafazzo and Ron Hay are highlighted by peers who say both partners “are active in media and entertainment law and have been opposite us on numerous transactions in recent years.”  The firm acts for clients in the film, music, broadcasting, publishing and sports industries.

Ranking and editorials


Cassels Brock  

Gowling WLG  

Stikeman Elliott


Baker McKenzie   



McCarthy Tétrault   

Norton Rose Fulbright  



Blake, Cassels & Graydon

DLA Piper


Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond



Bennett Jones

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt


Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh


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