For years, Florida has offered tax credits to the entertainment industry in an effort to encourage television and film productions to work in the state. In many ways, the program has been a success. Recent Florida-set programs such as “Burn Notice” and “The Glades” brought money into the state when they film in South Florida, and they promoted the state to the rest of the nation. Both those programs ended their runs recently, freeing tens of millions of dollars in tax credits that had already been committed.
Another component of the entertainment industry appears set to take advantage of those credits: makers of video games. Electronic Arts, the maker of “Madden NFL” football video games, among others, has already been awarded more than $14 million in credits for games it created at least partly in its Florida studio, and is reportedly trying to land the credits that had been awarded to the now defunct television productions.
The video game industry touts its ability to provide high-skill, high-wage jobs to the state, and Electronic Arts claims to employ about 800 people in its Maitland studio. Others in the entertainment industry are more skeptical. News reports last year revealed that Electronic Arts lobbyists actually helped write revisions to the laws regarding the tax credits.
In many respects, the legal issues involving the video game industry are the same as those in the rest of entertainment law. As with television and film, the video game industry involves complex contracts with talent and production personnel. It also involves copyright, trademark and other areas of intellectual property.
Whatever specific part they work in, Florida residents who work in the entertainment industry need help navigating these complicated legal issues. It’s important that the help they seek out has the knowledge and skills necessary to handling these specialized areas of the law.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Florida tax breaks grow for Electronic Arts and its Maitland video-games studio,” Jason Garcia, Sept. 21, 2013