Entertainment Law


For any new actor, author, musician, filmmaker or other artists entering into the entertainment industry, it never hurts to have a careful set of eyes look over legal documents. Copyright agreements, financial agreements, length of the contractual ties and privacy issues are but a few areas that entertainment lawyers take care of. In the case of J. Paye & Associates, this law firm comes with a unique set of skills: entertainment law, in addition to business and real estate law.

Johnetta G. Paye, Esq., the lead attorney of J. Paye & Associates, started her own firm in 2009. In the entertainment industry, Paye has worked on the journalism and legal sides of the news publishing industry, which gives her a unique skill set when it comes to advertising and public relations for artists. Her past work includes CNN Chicago bureau, PBS Independent Lens and Tribune Media Company.

J. Paye & Associates has worked as production counsel on films (“A Sunshine Day” at the 2016 Black Harvest Film Festival) and film projects (Eugene Bush of E-Tre Productions). The firm has also worked with musicians (Hypnotic Brass, Belo from Do or Die, Tressa Thomas from “The Five Heartbeats” and “Star Search”).


Entertainment law practices include:

  • Copyright, trademark infringements
  • Counsel on right of publicity and privacy issues
  • Drafting agreements (actor, book publishing, endorsement, film, investment, life rights, music licensing, production, shopping, work for hire)

Legal counsel

  • Legal disputes, one of which resulted in an $8 million judgment vacated
  • Licensing agreements for digital distribution of online music
  • Negotiating agreements (life rights, merchandise, music listening)
  • Pre-publication review of manuscripts, screenplays
  • Sweepstakes reviews in compliance with Federal Trade Commission Guidelines
  • Trademark applications

Paye’s journalism background includes:

  • CNN Chicago mob trial research
  • CNN “Man on the Street” interviews for “The Situation Room”
  • CNN’s Minnesota bridge collapse reports


In 2015, J. Paye & Associates hosted an entertainment law panel event and mixer, with the help of panelist Valincia Saulsberry of Chicagolicious. The event was profiled in Rolling Out Magazine. Paye was also featured in CBS Chicago’s “Let’s Get Back to Work” series, which highlighted Chicago professionals in six different industries. The CBS series focused on helping law school students and returning students understand the possibilities of pursuing a legal degree.

Paye is on the Associate Board of the Chicago International Film Festival, and a member of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA). Always ready and willing to expand her professional network, she also attended the 2016 BET Awards in Los Angeles.

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Representative Cases

  • Negotiated music licensing agreement for Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
  • Negotiated European Concert performances for Jewel B., formerly of the hip-hop duo Yo Majesty.
  • Provided legal consultation for the documentary Blacklight.
  • Negotiated Development deal for an upcoming artist.
  • Negotiated Recording Contract for aspiring singer.
  • Negotiated music publishing agreement for songwriter.