John Mashni is an active member of the Startup Entrepreneurial Emerging Development (S.E.E.D.) Practice Group with a strong focus in tax law, entertainment law, non-profit corporate law, intellectual property law, technology law, school law services and employee benefits.
He empowers businesses owners to follow their passions by helping them to seize business opportunities and navigate legal challenges. As a former entrepreneur, business owner and manager, John has a deep understanding of the businesses he represents as well as the knowledge and savvy of a seasoned attorney. He helps clients do deals, protect assets and plan for the future through his practice.
Through his experience in the business world, John understands, appreciates and delivers the level of service that his clients expect. The principles that guide his work include:
Be a "Finisher." John despises loose ends and open loops, and always strives to deliver results in the most timely and cost-effective manner possible.
Always Look Forward. A good attorney focuses on the issue before him and on those coming three, five or ten years down the road. Just as his clients create forward looking business plans, John provides proactive counsel to help his clients successfully navigate legal issues in the future.
Never Stop Learning. John is a passionate student across many industries and is always thinking about the legal implications of new and emerging industry patterns and trends.
Work Hard. Have Fun. John loves working with creative individuals who have a vision to share and a story to tell. While most of his clients don't particularly enjoy dealing with the legal aspects of their industry, John works hard to make the process as painless as possible, sometimes even managing to inject a bit of fun into it.
Protect. Protect. Protect. The intellectual property (IP) of businesses is unfortunately under constant threat of misappropriation and misuse. John vigilantly protects his clients’ most important assets. A helpful, easy to understand guide to common IP issues that John co-authored is available here.
Prior to earning his law degree, John worked as the manager of a media department for a large leadership development company. There he supervised and coordinated audio, video, web, and print projects for tens of thousands of customers. John also ensured all marketing materials complied with FTC guidelines and federal law.
In addition to managing the department, John performed freelance work on numerous film and video projects and he worked as a director, director of photography, audio engineer as well as visual effects artist. John also completed coursework at the New York Film Academy.
John recently released a set of Legal Basics Videos to answer general questions for small businesses and people in the entertainment industry.
Small Business Videos:
- Forming a Business Entity
- Contracts: Get It In Writing
- IP Basics
- Service Agreements: Promote Smooth Working Relationships
- What's in A Name: Selecting a Name for Your New Business
- Cease & Desist: What to Do When You Receive the Letter
- CrowdFunding 101
- CrowdFunding: Income is Taxable— Planning is Key
Entertainment Business Series:
- Film and Entertainment Financing
- Tips for Finding Investors for Your Film
- Tips for Licensing Music for Your Film
- Tips For Distributing Your Film
- Tips For Creating A Reality TV Show
- Will You Read My Script
Beyond Foster Swift
John is focused on serving his community. He loves to devote his free time to his role on the Board of Directors for Soundsgood Ministries, a non-profit organization that uses multimedia and concerts to reach youth across the nation and then equip those individuals to develop and nurture their own communities.
Through his experience serving on this and other non-profit boards, John has developed significant skill assisting 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations deal with the multitude of issues they face.
Memberships & Affiliations
- State Bar of Michigan
- Arts, Communications, Entertainment & Sports Section (ACES), Council Member
- Ingham County Bar Association
- Soundsgood Ministries, Board of Directors
- Student Statesmanship Institute
- Served as general counsel on multiple films
- Negotiated the sale of a reality TV show to a cable network, securing executive producer credits for first-time television producers
- Secured music rights for feature films
- Reviewed agency and management contracts for up-and-coming creatives;
- Served as general counsel for a record label
- Prepared investor documents for film producers to raise money for a feature film
- Reviewed music publishing agreements and arrangements for individuals and record labels
- Advised individuals, companies and tax-exempt organizations regarding the tax implications of IP ownership in an entertainment context.
Recent Blog Posts
BizTech Law Blog
- If You Think Consequences from a Cyber Data Breach Aren’t Real…Just Ask Target
- Cyber-Security: It's Not If, It's When
- Big Hollywood Studios Win Injunction Against Streamer VidAngel in Copyright Infringement Case
- Action Required to Keep Your DMCA Safe Harbor Protection
- Assembling Your Company's Data Breach Response Plan
- Identity Theft: How to Reduce the Risk and Mitigate the Harm
- Private Companies are Watching Your Every Move Online
- I Have a Script and I Want to Make a Movie
- Lights, Camera, Action: Legal Considerations for the Entertainment Industry
Tax Law Blog
- Including IT in your Agribusiness Strategic Planning Efforts, Foster Swift Agricultural Law News, January 30, 2017
- Business Best Practices for Monitoring and Protecting Intellectual Property, Foster Swift Business & Corporate Law News, November 21, 2016
- Recent Developments in Drone Law, Foster Swift Agricultural Law News, January 29, 2016
- 2015 Year End Checklist for Businesses and Individuals, Foster Swift Business & Corporate News, November 23, 2015
- The Michigan Nonprofit Corporation Act Amended, Foster Swift Business & Corporate News, May 8, 2015
- Can You Label your Food Product as "Healthy", Foster Swift Agricultural Law News, April 30, 2015
News & Events
- John Mashni Elected to Arts, Communications, Entertainment & Sports (ACES) Council, October 19, 2015
- Entertainment law attorney releases series of videos for aspiring film & TV writers, February 11, 2015
- Foster Swift welcomes Attorney John Mashni, June 18, 2013
- Cyber-Security: It's Not If, It's When, May 3, 2017
- The Marketing Lifestyle, State Bar of Michigan, May 17, 2016
- What you Need to Know about Protecting your Business's Intellectual Property, September 15, 2015
- UAVs (Drones) — What's Legal?, Michigan Agri-Business Association Winter Conference, January 13, 2015
- Do I Need a License to Play Music in my Commercial Building?, Michigan Business Network, July 25, 2014
- Michigan's Entertainment Industry, Michigan Business Network, July 10, 2014
Thomas M. Cooley Law School, J.D., 2012
Michigan State University, B.A., 2004, summa cum laude, English
New York Film Academy, 2000
Bar and Court Admissions