Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Danielle Ayalon


Coogan Law provides statutory authority designating income earned by a minor under an entertainment contract as the minor's property, rather than the property of the minor's parents. These statutes were first enacted in 1939, substantially revised in 2000, and subsequently amended in 2004. But despite these ongoing efforts to provide financial protection, the adverse interests of parents and their children persist. The concern that many child entertainers are not yet adequately protected invites close scrutiny of the law to assess whether changes are still required to assure children in the entertainment business have optimal protection.

This note examines the current Coogan Law and proposes changes to afford greater protection to children working under entertainment contracts. Part II of this note explains the history of Coogan Law from its inception to its most recent revision. Part III examines the current law and its loopholes: (1) the problems associated with court approval; (2) the inadequacy of the fifteen-percent requirement; (3) the inherent problems with parents as trustees; and (4) the statutory termination of the trust at the age of majority. Finally, part IV of this note proposes changes to the existing laws, aimed at curtailing each of the problems above and ultimately increasing the financial protection available to children working as performers in the entertainment industry.