The digital era has created a whole new set of complex legal issues for publishers– from copyright to privacy to Net Neutrality — and how these issues are resolved will have ramifications not only for lots of individual companies but for entire sub sectors of the media and entertainment business.
We’ll be covering these questions much more deeply in coming months. I’m pleased to announce that Joe Mullin will be joining us as a reporter to dig into the major intersections of digital media/entertainment and the law. Joe, who will be based in San Francisco, has been working for the American Lawyer Media group of magazines for the past nearly three years. During that period, he has written incisively about, among other things, our patent system, and has highlighted some of its abuses and dysfunction. Before ALM, Joe was a reporter for the Associated Press and the Seattle Times.
In the copyright realm, high-profile cases like Viacom (NYSE: VIA) vs YouTube and Universal Music Group vs. Veoh have laid bare some of the big friction points. But the question of who owns what content, and what rights non-owners have with that content is being tested — and in some cases, litigated — in less conspicuous ways every week. We’re also seeing the rise of companies like Righthaven whose purpose is to go after alleged copyright infringers in a much more systematic fashion. Can the courts and policy makers figure out a way to ensure that original creators of content and repurposers of that content can co-exist?
The swirling controversy around privacy, meanwhile, presents another big hurdle for media and entertainment companies. How to use all this data from customers to build new businesses, without violating privacy laws– that’s the central challenge. Complicating matters: The privacy laws/rules are different in different countries and are changing all the time–and content companies are relying more on third parties to manage/exploit those growing heaps of data. Where are the legal precedents being set for privacy regulations, and what are companies at the leading edge learning as they design their privacy policies?
We’ll be exploring these and other questions. Let us know if there are stories in any of these areas that you’d like to see written. Joe can be reached at jmullin AT paidcontent.org.