Steve Marenberg heads the firm's Media and Entertainment Litigation Group. His practice encompasses a wide range of commercial litigation matters, with particular concentrations in the areas of entertainment-related litigation, intellectual property litigation and antitrust and business tort disputes. Steve’s clients have included some of the nation's leading motion picture studios, television networks, independent production companies, music companies, interactive game companies and entertainers as well as prominent high technology firms.
Named to The Hollywood Reporter's Power Lawyers list every year since its inception, Steve has also been recognized as one of the country's foremost entertainment litigators by publications including Variety, The Legal 500, Los Angeles Business Journal and the Daily Journal, among others. In its 2019 edition of Chambers USA, Chambers & Partners once again ranked him in the top tier (Band 1) of media and entertainment litigators, citing a client who noted, “He's fantastic. There isn't a single case that I wouldn't trust Steve to handle and give me the best representation on.”
Chambers previously reported praise for Steve, commending his work as a “first-rate lawyer, particularly with regard to entertainment litigation.” One peer described him as an “excellent lawyer; I love to have him on my side and hate to be against him” and another lauded his “’excellent’ trial skills, in particular his ‘connection with the jury,’” and highlighted his ability to be “aggressive without being unpleasant,” noting that “he is very professional, very smart and willing to think independently and creatively.”
Steve has lectured at many professional seminars, including the ABA Litigation Section Annual Meeting, the ABA Forum on Sports and Entertainment Law Annual Meeting, the PLI Antitrust Law Institute, the USC Entertainment Law Institute and the USC Computer Law Institute.
Steve has extensive trial experience in federal and state courts, arbitrations, administrative proceedings and investigations by regulatory agencies. His recent high-profile engagements include:
- Represented one of four major talent agencies in the entertainment industry in an antitrust case alleging that the four agencies had conspired to fix prices and engaged in a boycott of smaller talent agencies, thereby affecting the market for the licensing of scripted television series.
- Representing one of Hollywood’s largest studios in a well-publicized class action alleging that the studios have failed to account properly for the exploitation of motion pictures in home video and video-on-demand markets.
- Represented the world’s largest electronic game company in an interrelated series of lawsuits relating to the development of the best-selling Call of Duty video game series.
- Represented a leading internet infrastructure service corporation in a series of multiparty business tort actions arising out of a well-publicized credit card data security and privacy breach.
- Represented Universal Music Group in several landmark copyright infringement lawsuits concerning the legality of displaying and distributing copyrighted music videos on “user-generated content” websites and the scope of the safe harbors of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for such activities.
- Represented acclaimed writer and director Peter Jackson in a dispute with New Line Pictures concerning Mr. Jackson’s profit participation for the blockbuster The Lord of the Rings trilogy of motion pictures.
Other representative matters include:
- Successfully prosecuted, on behalf of Walt Disney Pictures, a trademark infringement action of Disney’s rights in the motion picture Frozen.
- Represented Universal Music Group before the Supreme Court of California in HLC Properties, Ltd. v. MCA Records, Inc., 35 Cal. 4th 54 (2005), a landmark case defining the scope of the attorney-client privilege in California.
- Counseled Activision Inc. in connection with the FTC’s investigation of the marketing of violent entertainment to children and in related litigation.
- Defended Mark Burnett, Donald Trump and NBC Universal in Bethea v. Burnett, 2005 WL 1720631 (C.D. Cal. 2005), a copyright infringement case involving the NBC television series The Apprentice.
- Defended a leading video game publisher in a series of RICO and commercial bribery suits involving rights to the highly successful WWE video game series in World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. v. Jakks Pacific, Inc., et al., 530 F. Supp. 2d 486 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) and 425 F. Supp. 2d 484 (S.D.N.Y. 2006).
- Represented Pixar and others in the successful defense of copyright and trademark claims relating to several Disney/Pixar animated motion pictures.
- Represented Italy’s largest motion picture distributor in dispute regarding film financing and distribution that resulted in a favorable multimillion-dollar judgment after trial.
- Defended well-known recording artist Stevie Wonder against claims of copyright infringement in Coles v. Wonder, 283 F. 3d 798 (6th Cir. 2002), involving one of the artist's Grammy Award-winning songs.
- Served as counsel for Walt Disney Pictures & Television in the defense of an industry-wide class action alleging that the studios had conspired to impose unconscionable “net profits” restrictions in motion picture talent contracts and in the defense of individual actions raising similar claims.
- Provided counsel to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in connection with legislative hearings relating to legislation governing record company royalty accounting practices and amendments to California's “seven-year rule” relating to personal services contracts.
- Successfully defended a well-known California law firm in Schlessinger v. Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman, 40 Cal. App. 4th 1096 (1995), a landmark case establishing that summary judgment procedures can be used in arbitration proceedings.
- Defended one of the largest international music companies in connection with several governmental investigations and private antitrust class actions alleging that the “major” distributors of recorded music unlawfully fixed the price of compact discs and that the music companies unlawfully licensed rights to music videos in the United States and Europe.
Honors & Awards
- Recognized by Best Lawyers in America in the area of commercial litigation, entertainment law and IP litigation (2007-2020)
- Named an "IP Star" by Managing Intellectual Property (2019)
- Ranked in Band 1 for media and entertainment litigation in Chambers USA (2006-2018)
- Named to The Hollywood Reporter's Power Lawyers list every year since its inception
- Selected as one of the Most Influential Litigation Attorneys in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Business Journal (2018)
- Recognized among the top entertainment litigators in Variety’s annual “Legal Impact Report” (2015-2017, 2019)
- Recognized in The Legal 500 (2008-2009, 2011-2013, 2017-2019)
- Listed among the 50 “Top Entertainment Lawyers” in California by the Daily Journal (2014)
- Selected as one of California's “Top 10 Entertainment IP” lawyers (2008) and one of California's “75 Leading IP Litigators” (2010) by the Daily Journal
- Named to the Southern California Super Lawyers list every year since its inception
- Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Law School
- Co-chair, Public Interest Advisory Committee of the University of Chicago Law School
- Former member, Association of Business Trial Lawyers Board of Governors
- Co-chair, board of directors of the Alliance for Children's Rights, Los Angeles’ largest legal services organization focusing on providing legal and social services to Los Angeles County’s underprivileged children
- Member, Human Rights Watch, Los Angeles Committee
- Member, board of the Friends of the Saban Community Clinic (formerly the Los Angeles Free Clinic)
University of Chicago Law School (J.D., 1980)
Wesleyan University (B.A., 1977)
- California, 1981
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second, Sixth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits
- U.S. District Court for the Central and Northern Districts of California
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- Hon. James B. Moran, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois