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
- The Dangers of the DarkNet
- Wire Transfer Attacks are Increasing: Here’s What Companies Can Do to Prevent Them
- Supreme Court Strikes Down Provision of Lanham Act That Barred Registration of Disparaging Trademarks
- Copyright is “In Fashion” Following Supreme Court’s Decision Upholding Protection for Cheerleading Uniform Design
- 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
Tax Law Blog
- Farm Drones – Steer Clear From Michigan’s 230 Airports, January 2018 Agricultural Law News, January 24, 2018
- 2017 Year-End Checklist for Businesses, Greater Lansing Business Monthly, November 2, 2017
- Business Lessons Learned from the Equifax Breach: Week Two, Business & Corporate September 2017 E-Blast, September 25, 2017
- Hacked: Equifax Breach Leaves Millions of Consumers Vulnerable, Business & Corporate September 2017 E-Blast, September 8, 2017
- Including IT in your Agribusiness Strategic Planning Efforts, Foster Swift Agricultural Law News, January 30, 2017
- 2016 Year End Checklist for Businesses, SBAM, December 6, 2016
News & Events
- Foster Swift Attorneys Named to Leadership Positions with State Bar of Michigan ACES Section, Southfield Chamber of Commerce, October 12, 2017
- 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
- Tax Issues and Challenges Surrounding Innovative Fundraising, MICPA: 2018 Nonprofit Conference, October 9, 2018
- Legal Essentials to Exporting: Southfield Intellectual Property & Business Partner Due Diligence, MEDC, April 19, 2018
- "Finding a Board of Directors", Business Rap, March 30, 2018
- Legal Essentials to Exporting: Intellectual Property & Business Partner Due Diligence, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), March 8, 2018
- Legal Essentials to Exporting: Lansing Intellectual Property & Business Partner Due Diligence, MEDC, March 8, 2018
- Starting a Tech Company, Business Rap, February 14, 2018
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