“Pay or Play” in US Film and TV Agreements: Where Does It Come From, Why Does It Matter, and How Do You Make It Effective in a Contract?
“Pay or Play” in US Film and TV Agreements: Where Does It Come From, Why Does It Matter, and How Do You Make It Effective in a Contract?



Live Webcast/Rebroadcast – You watch the course online at the specified date and time shown below. You can ask questions and receive answers during the course.

On-Demand – You watch the course anytime and will have access to the course 24/7. Our On-Demand courses are available within 5-10 business days after the original recording and accessible for one year.

Course Description

This program was recorded on March 28, 2019

“Pay or Play” is an entertainment industry contract clause requiring a producer to pay a person providing services if the producer decides to terminate such person without cause. In an industry based on creative vision, whether the results of services are “satisfactory” is completely subjective, and yet, a producer will not want to alienate a services provider whom the producer may still want to work with in the future; what is unsatisfactory to one producer may turn out to be a huge hit when produced by someone else. So “pay or play” clauses permit a producer to terminate further services by striking a balance between having to find a reason to terminate for cause when there really is none and paying a person who set aside time to perform services and may thus have missed out on other work opportunities. It’s a crucial clause in a business built on creativity. Yet many lawyers think that inserting a clause saying that compensation is “pay or play” is sufficient, not fully understanding the intricacies of the clause and how to properly draft a “pay or play” provision. If such intricacies are not carefully considered and drafted, the results can be far from what the parties intended.

Attorney Thomas D. SelzThomas D. Selz
Thomas D. Selz is a founding partner of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz focusing on all aspects of entertainment law. Mr. Selz’s practice includes advising on documentary film, fictional and fiction-based-on-fact feature films, television pilots, tv series and miniseries, live stage productions, publishing, music publishing and sound recording, and clearance work for problematic material to make the product acceptable to networks, publishers and Errors and Omissions insurance carriers. Mr. Selz also counsels clients on copyright (including termination and renewal rights under the 1976 and the 1909 Copyright Acts) and trademarks, from clearance searches to deciding which classes to file in, to registration, and the need for additional US Patent and Trademark Office filings.

Contact Thomas D. Selz

1 General Credit

ProLawCLE will seek approval of any CLE program where the registering attorney is primarily licensed with exceptions stated below. Application is made at the time an attorney registers for a course, therefore approval may not be received at the time of broadcasting.

ProLawCLE does not seek approval in the state of Virginia.

Each state has its own governing rules and regulations with regards to CLE courses and formats, therefore please contact your state MCLE regulatory entity for further details about your state’s rules. Please visit our State Requirements page for information regarding your state’s CLE requirements and/or contact information for your state bar.

As stated in our Reciprocity Provision, ProLawCLE will grant credit in the following states through reciprocity, therefore direct application will not be made in these states:

AK, AR, CO, FL, ME, MT, ND, NH, NJ, NY, and PR.

ProLawCLE is dedicated to providing quality education from expert speakers and ensuring each attorney receives CLE credit for their participation. If for some reason a particular course does not receive approval in the attorney’s primary state of licensure, ProLawCLE will give credit for a future approved course or give a full refund, if applicable.

Each On-Demand course is available to you for 1 year from date of purchase. Additionally, CLE credit is only available within that year.

  1. The background to “pay or play” agreements
  2. Why “pay or play” matters
  3. To what it applies
  4. How these clauses can be made enforceable as a practical matter