The IAEL was officially founded in 1977 at MIDEM, the main international trade fair of the music business held each January in Cannes, France. For three years prior to that the lawyers who were to become the Association's founding members had been holding informal seminars and discussion groups for MIDEM participants interested in the legal aspects of the entertainment industry. The very first seminar, held in a basement common room of the Old Palais, examined the issue of "piracy", a subject still central to the industry's concerns thirty years later. At this stage, the group known simply as the 'MIDEM Lawyers Group' had already formulated many of the features that remain at the heart of the Association today.
In 1977 the first official meeting of the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers was held at MIDEM on the subject of 'Competition Law'. The meeting was chaired by the IAEL's first President, Frédéric Chartier, who was largely responsible for ensuring that the IAEL became a recognised and established annual feature at MIDEM. The following year the IAEL was formally constituted and officially recognised by the French Ministry of the Interior as an Association Étrangère with its headquarters in Paris. Despite the IAEL's growth, and despite the fact that its past Presidents have been based in four different countries, its official seat remains unchanged.
Since those first MIDEM meetings, the IAEL has expanded the scope of its activities to encompass: seminars and social gatherings at other entertainment industry events, the annual publication of an IAEL Book with contributions from leading legal and industry figures, other commercial benefits/discounted offers and, of course, this website. Members in some territories arrange further local events and the Midem event remains an important date in the IAEL calendar (see our Events for full detail). As a result, the IAEL has come to fulfil a unique role for lawyers involved in the entertainment industry throughout the world.
The number of members has expanded accordingly (currently to over two hundred lawyers) but, nonetheless, continuity of membership (four of the founding members of the IAEL, Robert Allan, Jay Cooper, Giorgio Mondini and Michael Sukin, are still actively involved more than 30 years later) combined with the energy of its officers, past and present, mean that the IAEL's style remains distinctly personal and informal.
For more information on the present and future plans of the IAEL see our News and Events