Cord Cutting, the Golden Age of Television, and…Copyright?

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Eyes on Fox v. TVEyes: A Closer Reading of the Appellate Decision

Increasingly, tech innovation is touching every aspect of our personal and professional lives, especially, the way we access and watch content. Your home may be one of the many that has “cut the cord,” the trend that has consumers cancelling expensive cable and satellite television packages for streaming service subscriptions. Initially fueled by the Great Recession, this spring, the practice reached critical mass. According to consulting firm Deloitte’s digital media trends survey, “more respondents have at least one streaming video subscription (69 percent) than have a traditional pay TV subscription (65 percent).”

This change in how we access and watch content has major implications for companies in the entertainment and telecommunications space. Time tested business models are feeling the pressure of disruption.

For consumers interested in shifting away from linear or traditional TV viewing in lieu of over the top or direct to consumer streamed content, it can be difficult to know where to start. How many streaming services do you subscribe to? In my household the number is up to four, and with new streaming services like Disney+ launching later this year, that number is sure to increase. Ironically, in a few years the cable bundle may once again seem like the most cost-effective entertainment option!

The good problem we seem to have is that every streaming service and traditional network, seems to have at least one “can’t miss” show. Is fear of missing out driving subscriptions? Massive investment in new content by tech companies like Netflix and Amazon has helped to bring about the “Golden Age of Television”—a proliferation of high quality TV programs available on a variety of linear and over the top platforms. With new shows constantly debuting, it’s hard to keep up. From TV to movies, it seems that there’s always something new to watch.

Have you considered how you might leverage quality content to enhance meetings, training, continuing education, or conferences? If you have watched “The Office” you have probably seen at least one scene that would make a hilarious introduction for a meeting. The best content engages us on an emotional level. When I’m struck by a memorable scene, I think about how I can solicit a similar reaction in a presentation of my own. The audience doesn’t have to cry, but a laugh or two would be nice.

Of course, the content must be relevant to your topic and workplace appropriate. When it comes to the latter, there is also the issue of whether or not permission is required to show a particular movie or TV program. Especially with new streaming services, there can be confusion around copyright: do the same legal requirements that applied older technology, like DVDs, apply to the same content when it available in a different format, for example, via a streaming service? In short, the answer is yes. All of the most popular streaming services, just like the DVDs of yesterday, are intended for personal, private use only. If you want to stream a scene from “The Office” to kick-off your presentation, a public performance license is required.

As the format and method in which we access movies, TV programs, and other content continues to evolve, we must remember that the underlying copyright protection remains unchanged. Licenses are still required when content is shown outside of the home. At the end of the day, copyright protections help to provide fair compensation to artists for their creative work and fund the future of binge-able content.

 

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Eileen Korte

Author: Eileen Korte

Eileen Korte is a Vice President at MPLC, an entertainment company based in Los Angeles, California. She enjoys cooking, live music, and travel. You can learn more about MPLC and its public performance license, the Umbrella License, by visiting www.mplc.com.

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