Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law Predictions for 2015

A New Year approaching lends itself to predictions for the upcoming year. As I gaze into my disco ball to see what the future looks like for entertainment law and intellectual property, here is what I believe will be issues that will grow in relevancy.

Social Media in the Media Workplace

Every network, affiliate, and program has a group of socials. It’s a great way for them to promote anything from their 6 o’clock news program to the latest reality television show launch. It puts the viewer “inside” the media experience by allowing them to connect with their local anchors or reality stars.

What is necessary to drive their socials and viewer interaction are the employees of these media entities. Without the employees interacting with the public, the socials would be a failure. But, what happens when the star of the 6 o’clock news decides to take another position. Who owns the social media accounts and the posts she created while at her former position? What about her own personal account that is separate from her “official news desk” profile, but she occasionally shared work related stories there too? As it relates to ownership rights in the created products, would it matter where “breaking news” content was posted even if the employee was technically working at the time?

While most of these issues should be controlled by a very good social media policy by way of an employment agreement or employee handbook, are media entities putting those types of things in place? If they are in place, I think we will see a revival of shoring those up. As media entities define what it means to be “social” on the internet in their personal and private lives, I think we will see more definition being put in place.

Privacy Concerns Will Grow

This year saw celebrities being – How shall I say it? – “overexposed” when their personal cloud accounts were hacked into. Who didn’t receive a new bank card because the security measures at a retail store were called into question? Let us not forget the events this past week with Sony Pictures being targeted. Technology is a wonderful thing, but also a huge risk very scary when you think of the potential risk.

Some of the previously mentioned acts could be prosecuted as crimes; however, I cannot help but wonder if there will be an uprising demanding greater protections and securities. If the film giant Sony Pictures can be hacked, then what hope is there for the smaller independent film companies? As a Washington Post article pointed out, “Sony Pictures Entertainment’s information infrastructure has been sliced wide open, spilling out for the world to see. Sources tell The Post this will set the studio back for years, not just because of rather frank and rude conversations but also because its normal avenues of business communication have been compromised.” The article goes on to explain how not only was it a slap to the business it raises legal issues such as privacy, free speech and intellectual property rights.

As the hacks occur with bigger organizations and entities, your every day person will become more concerned about their privacy rights.  I only see this increasing over next year.  The only question really is – who is next?

The Spawn of Aereo

The broadcasting industry received a victory against Aereo this year. We now find Aereo filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But, the ideas behind Aereo will not quickly go away. I think this next year you will see spawns of Aereo.

Since the decision came out, you have many groups and consumers asking, “What is the next Aereo?” Arguably, there was a convenience factor. Subscribers could choose what they wanted and in their own time frame. The television world for Aereo subscribers functioned in a more buffet type setting and the cost was lower.  It is going to be interesting to watch how the service and convenience Aereo provided is then morphed and manipulated into a new business model. Let’s just hope the next business model is legal under the copyright framework.

That is a wrap for Statute of RyAnne for 2014! Whatever your plans are for the next few weeks, I hope you are traveling safe, are surrounded by family and friends and are happy. Wishing you a joyous season.  What do you think will be the major issues in entertainment law and intellectual property? Take part in the Comments section below and Stay Tuned In!

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