areas of expertise
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 issues relating to termination and renewal rights under the 1976 Copyright Act and its amendments, and the 1909 Copyright Act) and trademarks, from clearance searches, to deciding which classes to file in, to registering as Intent to Use or based on actual use, and reminding clients about the need for additional filings are necessary with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
In addition to transactional work from collaboration agreements and development through production and distribution, Mr. Selz focuses on mergers and acquisitions, secured transactions, private placements and public offerings, including crowd-funding laws and regulations. Mr. Selz has set up an international network of attorneys to assist each other with issues raised by the cross-border reach of Internet crowd-funding. Mr. Selz also regularly advises on complex corporate work involving entertainment industry and intellectual property assets.
For more than three decades, Mr. Selz has also helped structure domestic and international tax-advantaged financing for motion picture and television productions. In the US, Mr. Selz was one of the first to see the potential for combining state production incentives with the benefits for investors under Section 181 of the Internal Revenue Code, and Mr. Selz has advised clients about extensions to Section 181 as they have occurred. Mr. Selz has also taken the lead on behalf of the US videogame industry in extending the benefits of Section 181 to videogame development and production, particularly as such activities involve tax issues arising from crowd-sourced funding. Working with local counsel, Mr. Selz helped devise financing structures that are now used throughout the industry to permit clients to overcome substantial regulatory and business risks to be able to draw on funds from countries outside the US, including Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Germany and Hungary. He co-authored the US Incentives chapter of the Film Finance Handbook: How to Fund Your Film (Netribution, 2007).
Mr. Selz is a contributing editor to Entertainment, Law and Finance. He is co-author of the Entertainment Law Treatise, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Editions, Shepard's/ McGraw-Hill, 1983-2008, and was co-author of Entertainment Law, Casebook, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Editions, Lexis/Nexis, 1984, 1997, 2003. Mr. Selz is Adjunct Professor at Columbia Law School (1998-present), and prior to that he was Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University School of Law (1977-1993). Mr. Selz was a director of the Independent Feature Project (1986 - 2001), and served as General Counsel to the organization (1986-2008).
Mr. Selz has been quoted in Bloomberg on the Google Book Search Copyright Class Action settlement, and in Financial Times on TiVo’s plan to allow customers to transfer television programs to Apple's iPod. He was also quoted in The New York Times and other publications on the posting to the Internet of "Gone With the Wind" by the Australian affiliate of Project Gutenberg in violation of U.S. copyright law.
Prior to founding the firm, Mr. Selz worked in the entertainment department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and was associated with Emil, Kobrin, Klein & Garbus for three years.
He is admitted to practice in New York.
awards & recognition
New York area's best entertainment lawyers by New York Magazine
Best Lawyers in America for more than ten years
The Legal 500 as one of the nation’s top copyright lawyers
New York-area "Super Lawyer" for eight consecutive years (Entertainment, Securities & Corporate Finance)
Cornell University (BA, 1968)
Yale University (JD, 1971)
Upcoming Speaking Engagements
Past Speaking Engagements
Fintech Series: Crowdfunding and Peer-to-Peer Payment Systems
Thomas D. Selz presents on crowdfunding for the FTC's Fintech Series.
October 26 2016
2016 Lake FX Summit + Expo
Thomas D. Selz speaks on crowdfunding for the 2016 Lake FX Summit + Expo.
May 13 2016
Behind the Artist: Entertainment Law in the Digital Age
Tom Selz participates at Behind the Artist: Entertainment Law in the Digital Age, hosted by The New York Law School Law Review.
February 26 2016
Tom Selz’s NY Technology Council Presentation
November 19 2015
Entertainment Law for CUNY MFA Students
November 6 2014
Crowdfunding: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Thomas D. Selz presents on Crowdfunding for the New York Technology Council at Magnet Media.
October 20 2014
Crowdfunding: Rising Funding Source Attracts Start-ups, Investors, Donors
Thomas D. Selz presents on crowdfunding as part of the Columbia Business School Alumni Club panel. Frankfurt Kurnit hosts the event.
April 30 2014
New York University Producing for Directors
Thomas D. Selz presents a lecture at NYU's 'Producing for Directors' class.
February 10 2014
Crowdfunding in Entertainment and Media
Thomas D. Selz presents to the Producers Guild of America on Crowdfunding in Media and Entertainment. Frankfurt Kurnit hosts the event.
January 30 2014
Bloomberg BNA International Film & TV Finance Summit
Thomas Selz speaks at the 13th Annual Bloomberg BNA International Film & TV Finance Summit.
December 2 2013
Entertainment and Media Law Symposium in Toronto
Tom Selz speaks on "crowdfunding" at the Law Society of Upper Canada Entertainment and Media Law Symposium in Toronto.
April 26 2013
Columbia Business School Alumni Club
Frankfurt Kurnit and Tom Selz host the Columbia Business School Alumni Club. The panel features Leo Hindery, Jr., the Managing Partner of InterMedia Partners, LP.
February 24 2011
Tom Selz Speaks on a panel at a meeting of “Harvardwood”
Tom Selz speaks on a panel at a meeting of "Harvardwood" - a nonprofit group of Harvard alumni, students, faculty and staff working in media and entertainment.
August 5 2010
Tom Selz Presents “Can Characters Be Protected by Copyright and/or Trademark Law?”
Thomas D. Selz presents "Can Characters Be Protected by Copyright and/or Trademark Law?", a CLE luncheon at the offices of Frankfurt Kurnit.
June 17 2010
news & press
Entertainment Law & Finance November 2016
Thirty-nine Frankfurt Kurnit Attorneys Named “Super Lawyers” for 2016
Super Lawyers listed forty Frankfurt Kurnit attorneys in its 2016 edition.
The Best Lawyers in America 2017
In its 2017 edition, Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" ranked Frankfurt Kurnit nationally in "Tier 1" in Advertising, Copyright, Entertainment - Motion Pictures and Television, and Trademark Law, "Tier 2" in Litigation - Intellectual Property, Media Law, and Trusts & Estates Law, and "Tier 3" in Commercial Litigation and Regulatory Enforcement Litigation.
Film Tax Credits: New York Appeals Court Rejects Portion of Filmmaker’s Expenses
The New York film production tax credit is often a crucial piece of the financing for a film. But the rules governing qualification of expenses are strict.
New Regulation A Rules Survive Legal Challenge
Here's some news for businesses considering capital raises via the Internet.
One Beneficial New Tax Code for Producers
SEC Sets Limits on Crowdfunding
Law Journal Newsletters' Entertainment Law & Finance published Thomas D. Selz's article on the new SEC crowdfunding regulations - and the limits the regulations place on issuers, investors and platforms.
Congress Extends IRC Section 181 for Films; Expands it to Cover Live Theatrical Productions
A new law, signed by the President on December 18, extends Section 181 of the Internal Revenue Code for film and television and expands it to cover live stage productions.
SEC Sets Effective Date for Regulation Crowdfunding
In our Alert on November 11, we notified clients that the SEC had issued on October 30 final regulations to implement Title III of the JOBS Act. We have now learned that Regulation CF becomes effective on May 16, 2016.
SEC Approves New Crowdfunding Rules
SEC Approves New Crowdfunding Rules Permitting Companies Seeking Up to $1M from Both Accredited and Non-Accredited Investors: On October 30, 2015, the SEC completed final regulations implementing the JOBS Act, which was passed in April, 2012.
Thomas D. Selz’s Guest Column in the Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter includes a guest column written by Thomas D. Selz entitled, "How the SEC Boosted the Potential of Crowdfunded Movies".
Documentary Fundraising – The Big Picture
Thirty-seven Frankfurt Kurnit Attorneys Named “Super Lawyers” for 2015
Super Lawyers listed thirty-eight Frankfurt Kurnit attorneys in its 2015 edition.
FTC, Federal Court Views on Fraud In Crowdfunding Ventures
Recent Lawsuit May Show Big Liability Risk for Crowdfunding Platforms
The Best Lawyers in America 2016
Best Lawyers recognized our firm and 18 of our attorneys in their 2016 list.
FTC Offers a New Weapon Against Donation Crowdfunding Fraud
SEC’s Final Regulations for Implementing JOBS Act Crowd-Funding Capital Raising
Investment Crowdfunding Is Now (almost) Legal for All Investors
New SEC crowdfunding regulations will offer 2 new ways to raise capital via Internet offerings.
Effect of Omnicare On Private Placements in Film Ventures
“MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING”: A Securities Law Trap
We frequently see private placement memoranda, seeking to raise capital for films, which refer to independent film success stories such as "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," "Little Miss Sunshine," or other independent films which became box office hits.
Thirty-four Frankfurt Kurnit Attorneys Named “Super Lawyers” for 2014
Super Lawyers listed thirty-five Frankfurt Kurnit attorneys in its 2014 edition.
Paul Rudd to Star in Adaptation of ‘Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving’
Half a Loaf of Sec. 181: What Congress’s “Extension” of Expiring Tax Provisions Really Means
In a "generous" holiday gift-giving mood, Congress just passed, and the President is expected to sign, a bill that extends Section 181 of the Internal Revenue Code.
The Case for States to Offer Film-Tax Credits
California Triples Production Tax Incentive
On September 18, 2014, California enacted an increase in its film production tax incentives to more than triple the annual credits available from $100 million to $330 million, and to extend the program through 2020.
Best Lawyers 2015
Best Lawyers recognized our firm and 17 of our attorneys in their 2015 list.
Production Tax Incentives for Documentary Films
State production tax incentives have become an increasingly important part of any financing plan for feature length fiction films. But what about documentary films?
Mildly Upset Bull: Why the “Raging Bull” Decision is Not a Major Victory for Copyright Holders
Law Catching Up To Kickstarter
In what is, to our knowledge, the first enforcement action against a company which raised Kickstarter money and then failed to deliver any of the promised rewards, the Washington State attorney general announced on May 5, 2014 that it had filed a complaint for consumer fraud against Edward Polchlepek and his company Altius Management.
Expiring Tax Credit Sets Off a Scramble in Hollywood
Frankfurt Kurnit in “Best Lawyers 2014”
In its 2014 edition Best Lawyers ranked Frankfurt Kurnit in "Tier 1" in Advertising, Copyright, Entertainment, Trademark, and Trust & Estates Law, "Tier 2" in Litigation (IP) and Media Law, and "Tier 3" in Commercial Litigation and Regulatory Enforcement Litigation.
SEC’s Proposed New Crowdfunding Rules for Small Investors May Significantly Expand Financing Options
On October 23, 2013, the SEC proposed new regulations to implement Title III of the Jumpstart Our Startup Businesses Act to permit Internet offerings to small investors. The proposed rules, nearly 600 pages long, would implement amendments to federal securities laws that would permit issuers to raise capital using Internet offerings to small investors, provided the Internet sites containing the offerings are operated by registered broker-dealers or by a new intermediary between issuers and investors, called "funding portals."
Thirty-two Frankfurt Kurnit Attorneys Named “Super Lawyers” for 2013
New JOBS Act Regulations Alter Crowdfunding
The SEC recently issued final regulations to implement Title II of the Jumpstart Our Startup Businesses Act. The new Regulations permit companies to publicly solicit "private" placements from "accredited" investors over the Internet and through other public advertisements. This is a significant change for entrepreneurs, founders, and other company owners.
Media Mashup: Am Law Firms Headline Globe, Post Sales
The American Lawyer lised Thomas Selz as counsel to IBT Media in a deal to acquire Newsweek.
Fiscal Cliff Legislation Renews Section 181 Production Incentives
The fiscal cliff legislation, signed yesterday by President Obama, contains a number of provisions relating to US taxes, including an extension of Section 181 of the Internal Revenue Code. That's good news for film and television producers.
Frankfurt Kurnit Top Ranked in Best Lawyers and Best Law Firms for 2013
Best Lawyers ranked Frankfurt Kurnit one of the "Best Law Firms" of 2013.
Twenty-four Frankfurt Kurnit Attorneys Named 2012 NY-Area “Super Lawyers”
Super Lawyers listed twenty-four Frankfurt Kurnit attorneys in its 2012 edition.
Eleven Frankfurt Kurnit Lawyers Appear in New York Magazine’s List of the “Best”
New York Magazine named eleven Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz attorney's to its 2012 "New York Area's Best Lawyers" list.
Eighteen Frankfurt Kurnit Attorneys Named 2011 New York-Area “Super Lawyers”
Super Lawyers named eighteen Frankfurt Kurnit attorneys in its 2011 edition.
Tax Law Renews Section 181 Production Incentives
President Obama signed a new tax law that reinstates Section 181 of the Internal Revenue Code.
Frankfurt Kurnit in Best Lawyers 2010
Best Lawyers ranked Frankfurt Kurnit in its 2010 edition.
Tom Selz Quoted in Bloomberg
Tom Selz Joins the Cayman Islands New Film Finance Advisory Board
Cayman Net News reported on the formation of the Cayman Islands new film finance advisory board. Frankfurt Kurnit founding partner Tom Selz is on the board.
Take Six Steps Before Licensing Animated Characters
Licensing animated characters raises a variety of complex issues. For example, what intellectual property rights does the licensor actually control? Is trademark protection available? What definitions will govern payments to the licensor? These are a few of the important questions licensees must consider before licensing an animated character. This article highlights some of the potential pitfalls for licensees of animated properties, and suggests six steps to help maximize one's investment.
Recapturing Copyrights Alert
Sonny Bono was not just the other half of Sonny and Cher. Having survived life as a pop icon, Sonny Bono became a Congressman who has become memorialized in the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. This Act has extended copyright protection by 20 years, and has given authors and their heirs and successors another chance to recapture rights.
European Financing Tightens for Movie and TV Producers
2002 saw the tightening in Europe of rules and regulations governing tax advantaged or structured financing opportunities which had previously existed for US movie and television producers.