Jonathan L. Handel ImageJonathan L. Handel Image

Jonathan L. Handel

Jonathan Handel practices in the areas of entertainment, new media, technology, and intellectual property transactions and represents a variety of individuals and companies. He brings to his practice a broad range of experience in the entertainment and technology industries, and also covered entertainment law and labor as a Contributing Editor for The Hollywood Reporter from 2010-2020.

Mr. Handel's writing has also been published in/on the Los Angeles Times, Variety, Los Angeles Business Journal, Daily Journal, Huffington Post, and, and he has appeared as a commentator in the international, national and local media over 1,100 times. He also writes short stories, poetry and plays.

Mr. Handel is rated AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 out of 5 by Martindale-Hubbell . In 2008, The Daily Journal named him one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California and in 2013, AlwaysOn listed him as a Power Player in Technology Business Media.

Professional Experience

Clerk, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1990-1991).

Federal Associate Independent Counsel (1992-1993).

Associate Counsel, Writers Guild of America (1993-1994).

Teaching Experience

Mr. Handel is an adjunct professor / lecturer in law teaching substantive entertainment law courses at Southwestern and USC Law School, and has previously been an adjunct professor at UCLA Law School. He also taught a film appreciation and screening class for several years for UCLA Extension’s Entertainment Department.

Business Experience

Prior to law school, Mr. Handel worked in the computer industry in research, programming and market support functions in areas including the Internet/ARPAnet, artificial intelligence and graphic user interface.

Political/Community Experience

Prior to law school, Mr. Handel drafted to Cambridge (Mass.) Human Rights Ordinance, a local civil rights law, and successfully lobbied for its passage. He was involved in local politics and community affairs in Cambridge and subsequently West Hollywood for over a decade, was twice elected on the public ballot to four-years terms on the Cambridge Democratic City Committee, and served as a delegate to the Massachusetts and California state Democratic conventions eleven times.

Expert Witness Engagement

Willis v. City of Los Angeles, LA Superior Court Case No. BC388076 (jury trial) (March 2009) – engaged by City of Los Angeles as a consulting and testifying expert on damages regarding an actor’s alleged lost wages (plaintiff dismissed case after I was named but prior to my testifying).

Significant Legal Experience

Talent agreements (on talent side and producer side), including some past experience with A-list talent.

Option agreements – screenplay, book, life rights.

Low budget production legal agreements.

Web series agreements.

Rights issues.

Review of chain of title documents.

Sponsorship agreements for a physical venue (a hospitality space at the Sundance Film Festival, financed by sponsors).

Software development agreements, web development agreements.

Custom software licenses, EULAs.

Consulting agreements.

Guild issues – write about all guild issues for The Hollywood Reporter; particular expertise in above the line issues, especially residuals and new media.

LLC agreements – primarily have written the operational and control sections for entertainment or tech LLCs.

PPMs – have written or revised the business description and risk factors sections for tech companies.

Miscellaneous agreements – have written a variety of hard to categorize agreements relating to entertainment, tech or IP.

Outside general counsel – have been de facto outside GC for two clients, each of approx. 10 year duration.

Litigation counseling – have served as counselor, interpreter and contact point between client and litigators in several matters.

Additional Legal Experience

Executive employment agreements

Book publishing agreements

Videogame agreements

Spokesperson agreements

Equity-waiver stage agreements

Mobile advertising

Independent film finance

Sale of film library

Litigation and arbitration

  • Entertainment Technology. Providers of technology and technological services to the entertainment industry, including in the areas of DVD technology, computer software, special effects and post-production
  • Entertainment. Writers, producers, managers, and low-budget motion picture productions
  • Internet and Digital Media . Internet-based businesses, and creators and users of digital media
  • Technology. Software developers (licensing, joint ventures and marketing agreements) and users of custom software (agreements with vendors)
  • Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses. Intellectual property and related matters
  • Public and Large Companies. Intellectual property and information technology matters
  • Outside General Counsel. Small enterprises (general legal advice and business counsel on matters such as strategy, employment, and vendor relations)
  • Intellectual Property. Various enterprises and individuals (advice on copyright, trademark and licensing; coordination of consultations with outside patent counsel; intellectual property counsel in mergers and acquisitions

Journal/Professional Articles


Book Chapter

Popular Articles and Op-Ed Pieces re Entertainment and Technology

  • See also portfolios of selected popular articles at MuckRack and Pressfolios
  • About 1,000 articles for The Hollywood Reporter (July 2010 to present) on entertainment labor, entertainment law and other subjects
  • "Making for the Exit: Poli-Tech Firms are Waiting on a Lucrative, Silicon Valley-Style Exit that could Change the Industry Forever," Campaigns & Elections (July 2014)
  • Book Review, Los Angeles Times (October 23, 2009) (review of William Patry, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars)
  • "There’s a Lot of Residual Pain Ahead if Current System Isn’t Remedied," Hollywood Reporter (July 23, 2009)
  • "Copyright Enforcers Must Overcome Internet’s Free Content Culture," Daily Journal (July 21, 2009) (available in slightly different form on the Huffington Post as Culture Clash on the Internet)
  • "SAG Contract is Ratified, but Drama is Likely to Return Quickly," Daily Journal (June 30, 2009)
  • "SAG Contract Ratified; Now What?," 15 Century City Lawyer, No. 15 (June 2009)
  • "New-Media Distribution Giving Hollywood a Makeover," Los Angeles Business Journal (June 15, 2009)
  • "Why the Film Biz Still has Far to Go," (June 11, 2009)
  • "The Struggle Over Content and Technology Will Define Hollywood’s Future," Daily Journal (June 9, 2009)
  • "Why Content’s Kingdom is Slipping Away," (June 9, 2009)
  • "SAG’s Strange Voyage," 15 Century City Lawyer, No. 14 (May 2009)
  • "Actors Strike a Deal, but is a New Compensation System on the Horizon?," Daily Journal (April 7, 2009)
  • "Economy, New Media Are Conspiring to Make Things Tough on Actors," Daily Journal (March 24, 2009)
  • "Hollywood Under Siege," Daily Journal (October 22, 2008)
  • "Actors’ Labor Plan in Need of a Rewrite," Los Angeles Business Journal (September 15, 2008)
  • "Curtain Call," Daily Journal (June 20, 2008)
  • "With One Union Already Done, SAG Auditions for an Actors Deal," Daily Journal (June 4, 2008)
  • "No Time for Drama in Contract Talks for Studios, Actors," Los Angeles Business Journal (May 26, 2008)
  • "Entertainment Industry Could Be Headed for a Scary Sequel," Daily Journal (May 15, 2008)
  • "To Look and Sound Great On Air, Lawyers Should Be Prepared," Daily Journal (April 8, 2008)
  • "Fete the Press: Lawyers, Make the Most of Media Interactions," Daily Journal (April 1, 2008)
  • "Write On," Daily Journal (March 10, 2008)
  • "DGA as Peacemaker: If the Directors Cut the Right Deal, It Could Save Hollywood From Civil War," Los Angeles Times (January 16, 2008)
  • "Ask Super Lawyers," Los Angeles Magazine (February 2007) (short squib)
  • "Ask the Experts," Script Magazine (January/February 2007–July/August 2008) (legal column)
  • "How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets," (February 2003)
  • "When Worlds Collide—‘Take Me to Your Lawyer’?," UCLA Extension Entertainment Studies (Fall 2002)

Work Regarding Autonomous Vehicles


California DMV Testimony (Los Angeles, February 2, 2016)

California DMV Testimony (Sacramento, January 27, 2015)

Media Appearances

Older Computer-Related Articles and Technical Documents

  • "Machine Readable Passports," Nexus: The Journal for Computer Users in the Public Interest Community (review) (September/October 1984)
  • "The MSG Frame System," BBN Labs report (April 1984)
  • "Zmail Concepts and Techniques," Symbolics reference manual 990096 (January 1983) (co-author)
  • "The New Literacy: Programming Languages as Language," BYTE (March 1981)
  • Short review of Godel, Escher, Bach, in The Knight Letter (March 1981)
  • "An English Parser," IBM Systems Research Institute Technical Report TR-73-005 (January 1980)

Profiled In


  • Entertainment Labor: An Interdisciplinary Bibliography was reviewed on the American Association of Law Libraries’ Spectrum Blog (Ingrid Mattson, July 23, 2014) and in 39 Labor Studies Journal 323 (Sheree Gregory, December 2014). See quotes from the reviews here.
  • The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis was cited in Carol Jess, "The Hobbit Dispute’: Organizing Through Transnational Alliances, 5(2) Global Labour J. 196, 206 and Carolyn Michelle, Ann L. Hardy, Charles H. Davis & Craig Hight, "An Unexpected Controversy in Middle-Earth: Audience Encounters with the ‘Dark Side’ of Transnational Film Production," Transnational Cinemas at 3, 4, 5 & 11 (2014); and discussed in "Book Slams NZ Over Hobbit Union Crisis (11/26/2012).
  • Handel’s Hollywood Reporter coverage of the New Zealand Hobbit unionization dispute was quoted twice during debate in the New Zealand Parliament. See 668 Hansard 14954 & 14993 (Oct. 28, 2010).
  • Hollywood On Strike! was cited in:
    • Kate Fortmueller, "The SAG–AFTRA Merger: Union Convergence in a Changing Media Landscape," 17(3) Television & New Media 212-227 (2015)
    • Ryan P. Fuller & Ronald E. Rice, "Lights, Camera, Conflict: Newspaper Framing of the 2008 Screen Actors Guild Negotiations," 91(2) Journalism & Mass Communications Quarterly 326–343 (2014)
    • "Writers and Organized Labor" in Robert E. Weir, Workers In America: A Historical Encyclopedia (2013) (listed as suggested reading).
  • "No More Sounds of Silence on the Musical Composition Front" was cited in Robert Alan Brookey, Hollywood Gamers: Digital Convergence in the Film and Video Game Industries 16, 143 n. 51-52 (2010).
  • "Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown: Why Content’s Kingdom is Slipping Away" was reprinted in Program Syllabus, USC Gould School of Law - Beverly Hills Bar Association, 2014 Institute on Entertainment Law and Business; and cited in:
    • Caitlin Kowalke, "How Spotify Killed the Radio Star: An Analysis on How the Songwriter Equity Act Could Aid the Current Online Music Distribution Market in Failing Artists," 6 Cybaris 193, 231 n. 149 (2015)
    • Phil Portantino, "Finding the Treasure Without Walking the Plank 1: The Critical Need for Properly Tailored Anti-Piracy Laws," 11 Rutgers J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 664, 675 n.51, 676 nn. 57, 60, 684 n.102 (2014)
    • Jennifer Holt, Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation, 1980-1996 at 6 n.15 (2011)
    • Catherine L. Fisk, "The Role of Private Intellectual Property Rights in Markets for Labor and Ideas: Screen Credit and the Writers Guild of America," 1938-2000, 32 Berk. J. Employ. & Lab. L. 215, 277 n.241 (2011)
    • Jessica Wang, "A Brave New Step: Why the Music Industry Should Follow the Hulu Model," 51 Idea 511, 533 n.118 (2011)
    • Priti Trivedi, "Writing the Wrong: What the E-Book Industry Can Learn from Digital Music's Mistakes with DRM," 18 J.L. & Pol'y 925, 940 n.98, 955 n.197, 956 nn. 200, 201 (2010)
    • Lauren A. Rieders, "Old Principles, New Technology, and the Future of Notice in Newspapers," 38 Hofstra L. Rev. 1009, 1029 n.144 (2010)
    • Zahr Said, "Embedded Advertising and the Venture Consumer," 89 N.C. L. Rev. 99, at 114 n. 62 (2010)
    • Jon M. Garon, "Content, Control and the Socially Networked Film," The University of Louisville 2nd Ann. Conf. on Innovation and Communication Law (August 21-22, 2009), at 13n.108; 48 U. Louisville L. Rev. 771 (2010)
  • "Hollywood Under Siege" and the author’s blog were cited in Lisa Lapan, Network Television and the Digital Threat, 16 UCLA Entert. L. Rev. 343, 346, 359, 389-90 (2009) and in Christian L. Castle and Amy E. Mitchell, "What's Wrong with ISP Music Licensing," 26 Ent. & Sports L. 4 (2008)
  • "Hollywood Under Siege" was cited in:
    • Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Section, State Bar of Cal., Cal. State Antitrust & Unfair Copet. L. § 10.02(C) n.19 (Cheryl Lee Johnson, ed.) (2010)
    • Kevin C. Hormann, "Comment, The Death of the DMCA? How Viacom v. Youtube May Define the Future of Digital Content," 46 Houston L. Rev. 1345, 1346 nn. 4, 6, 1374 nn. 189, 190 (2009)
  • "Is Content Worthless?" was:
  • "Reflections on Residuals: Go Forth and Multiply," The Huffington Post (11/23/07) was cited in Miranda Banks and Ellen Seiter, "Spoilers at the Digital Utopia Party: The WGA and Students Now," 7.04 FlowTV (12/7/2007).
  • Memo to a client regarding a film library acquisition was cited favorably in "Santa Monica Pictures, LLC v. Commissioner," T.C. Memo. 2005-104 (United States Tax Court 2005), at 67-69
  • Howard M. Frumes and Jonathan Handel, "Commentary on the IFTA International Censorship Rider" was reprinted in Donald E. Biederman Entertainment & Media Law Institute and Beverly Hills Bar Ass'n, "Entertainment Without Borders: Practicing Entertainment Law in a Global Environment," 30, 31- 32 (Nov. 1, 2005) (program materials) and cited in Robert Lind, et al., 1 Entertainment Law 3D: Legal Concepts and Business Practices § 3:44 and in Thomas D. Selz, Entertainment Law 3d at 3-110

Presentations (in Los Angeles unless otherwise noted)

  • The Changing Landscape of the Entertainment Industry, Harvard Law School Alumni Assoc. (February 24, 2016) (panelist)
  • Presentation on residuals, Green Hasson Janks (March 25, 2015)
  • Startups Legal Advice To Help Avoid ‘Soul-Crushing’ Mistakes, Silicon Beach @ USC (October 29, 2014) (panelist)
  • Entertainment Law for Short Filmmakers, HollyShorts Film Conference (August 19, 2014) (moderator)
  • Presentation on entertainment unions and guilds, Columbia College Chicago (May 8, 2014)
  • Aereo, investor conference call for DeMatteo Monness (April 17, 2014)
  • Aereo, FilmOn, Aereokiller . . . A Copyright Thriller!: a tale of 2 countries, 3 companies and 13 cases, Pannone Legal Group (international association of law firms) (October 11, 2013)
  • Aereo, investor conference call for DeMatteo Monness (May 28, 2013)
  • Presentation on entertainment journalism, Columbia College Chicago (February 14, 2013)
  • Loyola Law School Entertainment Law and Litigation Symposium (December 6, 2012) (panelist)
  • Presentation on unions and guilds, Columbia College Chicago (September 25, 2012)
  • Master Class on Guilds and Unions, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (April 20, 2012)
  • Residuals Management: A Challenging Opportunity, Hollywood IT Summit (March 2, 2012) (panelist)
  • Residuals Management: Past Present and Future, Hollywood IT Society (HITS) breakfast meeting (January 25, 2012)
  • PR Summit Chat-Up (November 12, 2011) (panelist)
  • Over the Top and Through the Woods: Navigating the New Television Thicket, USC Institute on Entertainment Law and Business (October 22, 2011) (moderator)
  • Art of the Deal, Digital Hollywood (October 18, 2011) (panelist)
  • Social Networking, Social Media and Video for Results, Legal Marketing Technology Conference/West (San Francisco, September 15, 2011) (panelist)
  • SAG/AFTRA Merger, presentation to The Actors’ Network (June 2011)
  • "A Conversation with . . . Jonathan Handel," Southwestern Law School (April 12, 2011)
  • Compensation & Creative Labor roundtable, Net Worth: Media Distribution in the Digital Era conference, UC Santa Barbara (February 18, 2011) (panelist)
  • Legal panel, Screen Actors Guild Diversity Day (October 16, 2010) (moderator)
  • Art of the Deal, Digital Hollywood (May 6, 2010) (panelist)
  • Southeast European Film Festival Business Conference (May 3, 2010) (panelist)
  • Presentation at Chapman University School of Law Distinguished Entertainment and Sports Law Speaker Series (September 30, 2009)
  • Meltdown to Ramp Up: Entertainment Law Year in Review, Beverly Hills Bar Association (April 2009) (panelist)
  • Like Scorpions in a Silicon Cage: How Hollywood Management and Labor Fought While Content's Kingdom Was Slipping Away, Lights, Labor, Action: Labor Controversy in the Sports and Entertainment Industries conference, Vanderbilt Law School (March 2009) (keynote speaker)
  • Labor Discord in Hollywood, Zocalo Public Square (March 2009) (panelist)
  • Will SAG Strike?, investor conference call for RBC Capital Markets (December 18, 2008)
  • Union: Contract Negotiations, presentation to the Actors' Network (July 2008)
  • No SAG Resolution Yet—Stay Tuned, investor conference call for Wachovia Capital Markets (July 2, 2008)
  • New Ways of Storytelling, MediaXchange conference (June 2008) (moderator)
  • Spinning the Web, Writers Guild of America (June 2008) (panelist)
  • Understanding the Issues in the WGA Strike, investor conference call for RBC Capital Markets (February 1, 2008)
  • Legal Issues for Screenwriters, Screenwriting Expo and Script Writers Showcase (2003–2006) (panelist)
  • Technology in the Entertainment Industry, presentation in Havana, Cuba to ICAIC, the Cuban Institute of Motion Picture Arts and Industry (December 2003)
  • Technology and the Entertainment Industry, presentation to 30 CEOs of Korean video game and animation companies (December 2003) (UCLA Extension)
  • Technology and the Television Busi¬ness, Presentation for Fuji Television Network (November 2003)
  • The Film Industry: Business, Law and Technology, Presen¬tation to Warner Bros. Global Trainee Program (September 2003)
  • Entertainment law and intellectual property presentations to Los Angeles Film School producing class (2002, 2004, 2008)
  • Filmmaking and Technology, presentation to Masterclass Los Angeles: Three-Week Custom Program for Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg (August 2002) (UCLA Extension)
  • Doing Deals in a Digital World, panel at ShowBiz Expo (June 2002) (moderator)
  • Internet and Entertainment Technology, presenta¬tions at Beverly Hills Bar Association and Disney, Dreamworks, Sony, and William Morris Agency (1998–1999)
  • Cybercrime, Copyright and Free Speech on the Internet (October 1995) (panelist)
  • Appellate Advocacy in the Fifth Circuit, presentation to Dallas Bar Association entertainment law group (August 1991)