Interview with Nitika Nagar, Entertainment Lawyer & Associate at Naik Naik & Co.

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Nitika Nagar is an Entertainment, Media and Intellectual Property Lawyer, representing some of the biggest individuals and brands. She has gained extensive domestic and cross- border experience in handling multiple portfolios of work scattered across various fields including gaming and all facets of established and emerging new media.

She has worked on a plethora of production and distribution deals, rendered legal assistance in the acquisition of film libraries and format rights, service agreements, licensing agreements and technology related to intellectual property as well as E-Commerce and has been closely involved in structuring, negotiating and implementing complex transactions involving acquisition, development, exploitation and sale of IP rights, financing-cum-distribution deals, talent agreements, production and co-production deals for Bollywood production houses, Hollywood studios, talent management agencies and government bodies.

Libertatem Magazine recently interviewed Miss Nagar. Below is the excerpt from the interview.

Vidushi: When did you decide to study law and what influenced that decision? If not law, what alternate career would you have considered?

Nitika Nagar: I was a very average student back in school, having failed math and science almost every year. I believe what kept me going was my love for languages, history and civics which also drove me to take up humanities post 10th grade. I always knew I had the “gift of the gab” and wanted to pursue a career which involved argumentation, language, reading and a lot of interaction with people. By the time I was in the 12th grade, I had zeroed on law- there was absolutely nothing else I could imagine myself doing for the rest of my life. Had it not been for law, in a parallel universe, I would have definitely been a media professional, but considering that I am an entertainment lawyer, I am currently enjoying the best of both worlds.

Vidushi: How was your law school experience? What were some things you did in law school that you’d say ended up helping you as a professional?

Nitika Nagar: I remember being academically oriented, having spent most of my time in the library either reading up on the new laws or researching for a paper presentation. I have spent numerous days just sitting amongst the brightest PhD students (One of them being Dr. Saravanan A who taught me the fundamentals of legal research back when I was in my first year). I believe I lead a very disciplined lifestyle, dividing my time equally for college studies and co-curricular activities surrounding the research, presentations, online research projects with international faculties and community work (I used to run a student initiative focused on the reformation and rehabilitation of marginalized youth groups, which has now been rebranded as the Healing Dove Foundation). Hard work eventually leads to some great results- I was one of the youngest recipients of the DAAD scholarship which gave me an opportunity to study in Germany on a full grant. One of my research papers on environmental laws was selected for presentation at the University of Cambridge while I was in my third year. I was also recognized by my university and notable tabloids for humanitarian work. All of these experiences and achievements made me a well rounded, tough, confident and disciplined individual- qualities that I carry with me in my professional life till date.

That being said, I wished I had let my hair down a bit and lived a more traditional college life. While it’s definitely something I missed out on, I don’t have any regrets with the way my time at college turned out to be. It was indeed one of the most transformational phases of my life.

Vidushi: How was your experience of your initial years as a lawyer after graduating from Symbiosis Law School, Pune? How easy or difficult were these years to navigate?

Nitika Nagar: Life after law school was an eye-opener, to say the least. The bitter truth is that no classroom can equip you with the requisite skills to become a lawyer. I can’t emphasize enough on how important it is for young law students to spend most of their law school years gaining practical exposure while making themselves academically familiar with the nuances of various laws. That being said, my life as a working professional has been a metamorphosis. I am so grateful to my present organization, Naik Naik and Company, for nurturing me right from the time I was a fresher till date. I may have completed 3 years as an entertainment lawyer, but I am learning every day. It’s a fun rollercoaster ride and I look forward to every challenge with zeal.

Vidushi: Please share with the readers what has been the toughest research project/case you have worked on that made you give up, but you did it anyway.

Nitika Nagar: I guess my toughest matters have been complex film acquisition deals and production/co-production agreements hands down. These are matters that test your drafting and negotiation prowess as an entertainment lawyer. You may know the law at the tip of your fingers, but the art of negotiation is something that comes with experience. At this point in my career, I am working with the best in the business. I have had the privilege of being mentored by some exceptionally talented lawyers in my field who crack and close complicated transactions with great skill. I would take this opportunity to name two women lawyers who I look up to and learn from each day at my current organization- Ms. Madhu Gadodia and Ms. Vasundhara Kuthiala, Their ability to advise on the most challenging matters is par excellence, to say the least.

Vidushi: You mainly deal with issues of Entertainment, Media and Intellectual Property, what would you advise to those who intend to pursue a career in these fields?

Nitika Nagar: I would say go for it and design your own path! It’s a great time to be in a dynamic and ever-growing industry. With the advent of new media, the growth of the media business is going to exponential. What’s best is that there is a dearth of good entertainment lawyers in the space. Contrary to popular belief, branching out and specializing in a niche area at an early stage is a great option. After all, it’s important to do what you love and love what you do!

Vidushi: There are always certain areas in each domain that are underdeveloped. Please tell us such niche areas in Intellectual Property Laws which you think are yet to evolve & which might offer opportunities in coming years

Nitika Nagar: I have worked in the entertainment industry more and I must say that media laws are still evolving, especially areas pertaining to music, censorship, new media and to some extent – sports and broadcasting. It is going to be exciting to see how these fields develop and the legal frameworks which will be drawn up to protect talent and expression across the spectrum.

Vidushi: COVID opens a new flank in the IP vs public health stand-off. It has made governments realize that IP could impede their access to medicines, vaccines, tech, or reagents. What are your views on the same?

Nitika Nagar: There is currently an ongoing dilemma on how public health and patent rights can be balanced in such unprecedented times. For instance, Compulsory Licensing (CL) is a tool enabling the government to ensure that a patented medical invention (in most common cases, a drug) is manufactured and made available to the public at lower costs, without seeking a license from the patentee. What’s risky is the fact that such desperate times often call for relaxation on patent rights, resulting in generic manufacturing of drugs which in turn results in an economic blow to individual patent holders who often have to settle for unfavourable and commercially not so viable terms. Given the current trend of “voluntary licensing” (initiated very recently by Gilead Lifesciences allowing their drug “Remdesivir”  to be manufactured across 127 countries to battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic), companies and individuals can protect their inventions from being compulsorily licensed and can also protect themselves from claims of misusing the situation to make a profit, since the invention can be made available on a royalty-free basis till the pandemic ends. It would be interesting to see whether the concept would flourish more in India, especially within the medical space.

Vidushi: Could you please share your views on COVID-19 and its impact on businesses and what will be the ramifications on legal transactions and proceedings?

Nitika Nagar: To begin with, I believe we would all agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the world works- quite literally. While we all know that the economy is going to undergo a downward spiral with liquidity remaining tight, cost of borrowing jumping upwards despite the relaxations provided by the central government on interest rates and the fear and possibility of insolvency and bankruptcy cases rising in the recent future, I can’t help but think of the high percentage of the workforce that will be asked to or forced to quit. Hiring freezes have already become the norm and even if recruitments begin, as usual, the workforce will be engaged more on a temporary, contractual basis rather than on payroll. Work from home which is already the new normal will continue, which isn’t necessarily the more “productive option” given how companies have forgotten to draw the line when it comes to work hours, leading to increasing cases of burnouts among the existing workforce.

One good thing about the pandemic though is the immense growth of technology which has made transacting convenient. Thanks to Zoom, Cisco and likes, today our fraternity is able to plead via virtual courts and close transactions and negotiations through video conferencing. Nobody could have imagined the concept of virtual courtrooms and e-meetings in a usual scenario, but here we are now.

Vidushi: In this situation, where the world is hit by a Pandemic, the students have no choice but to sit back at home. Everything is getting online and the youths are ending up wasting a lot of time on technology. According to you, how can the students use this time of pandemic to improve their skills?

Nitika Nagar: I think this is the best time to read about laws, keep abreast about recent developments, publish articles and watch exciting webinars on topics one enjoys. While the pandemic has taken its toll on students in general, it’s important to remain as positive as possible and not succumb to negativity. As a global community, we are undergoing a tough phase, but one needs to realize that when we hit rock bottom we have nowhere to go but upwards. Eventually, the situation will normalize and there will be better prospects. Until then, it’s important to grasp and learn as much as possible and to hone one’s skills.


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