ore than a dozen years ago, student and alumni interest in the role law plays in sports prompted Professor Paul Weiler LL.M. '65 to introduce an HLS seminar called Sports and the Law. Since then, matters such as labor disputes between players and team owners and the impact of rules requiring equivalent college athletics programs for men and women students have been regular fare in Weiler's classroom.
Sports and the Law proved so popular that Weiler followed up with another new seminar, Entertainment, Media, and the Law. Now in its fifth year, this course explores First Amendment, intellectual property, contract, and international trade issues and a host of other legal matters germane to the business of movies, television, music, interactive media, and other popular pastimes.
The impact of Weiler's courses can be gauged by the large number of HLS students who have gone on to important posts in entertainment and sports: some as lawyers, others as sports executives, independent producers, talent agents, and so on. A steady stream of alumni in the industry return to the School to speak to Weiler's classes, or School-wide at the invitation of the student Committee on Sports and Entertainment Law.
For Weiler's current students, the sports and entertainment industries raise intriguing legal questions and shed new light on the doctrines and concepts studied in basic law courses. Both worlds "regularly churn up new legal cases and controversies that spark debate within the industry, in courts, and in Congress," Weiler says.