Entertainment Licensing Challenges - Movies/Film
Three copyright challenges that the entertainment industry faces regarding movies and film are public performance and the interpretable line between copyright infringement and fair use, companies that attempt to circumvent copyright laws with claims that have not been clearly defined, and the unauthorized use of streaming services.
Public Performance and Fair Use
- As defined in copyright law, a public performance of work is a display in the open or in public where a substantial amount of individuals are or to transmit a performance or display of work utilizing any device whether the members of the public receive it in the same place at the same time or in separate places at different times.
- Bars, restaurants, private clubs, prisons, factories, public libraries, churches, and non-classroom use at schools and universities are examples of where a public performance license must be obtained regardless of admission fees, federal or state agency involvement, or profit or nonprofit standing.
- The copyright exception Fair Use, which allows the use of copyrighted work without a license in the aforementioned places, involves four factors: whether the use is for educational purposes, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount of the work that is being used, and the market value of the work.
- The issue that arises with this exception is the frustration that comes with the formula determining whether a use is “fair,” and because it is open to interpretation, unless the user is sued, it’s difficult to know if they’re breaking the law or not and even if it is taken to court, it’s based on the ruling judge’s interpretation of the law.
- Although one of the factors to establish fair use is whether the copyrighted material is used for commercial gain; however, although an example is the use of copyrighted material in the creation of video essays, many are obtaining millions of views and thousands of dollars from essay videos posted on social media platforms without revoking their fair use status.
Process of Defining Cable Systems
- The Copyright Act of 1976 only had traditional cable systems in mind at the time of establishment, leaving Internet-based services able to claim certain loopholes and force the courts to be ever-changing the way it is defined.
- In 2012, the company Aereo tried assigning subscribers individual antennas to avoid comparisons with a cable service and to avoid having to obtain permissions; however, the Supreme Court ruled they were infringing copyright without a license.
- In 2016, the court battle against FilmOn initiated companies providing film and television content over the internet being defined as a “cable system.”
- The Global Innovation Policy Center has estimated that global online piracy costs the United States economy roughly $29.2 billion in lost revenue every year.
- A common argument regarding unlicensed streaming and its violation to copyright law is that streams do create copies of the work because of progressive download, or a method of streaming video that allows users to view the content as soon as a small amount arrives, but so far this has not held up in court as it does not fit in the law's definition of a copy.
- The ability to steal large amounts of copyrighted works can be easily done with only an additional cable or satellite line and a streaming service, allowing a user to capture programs or internet streams and re-transmit them over the Internet.
- Because of peer-to-peer technology, which allows users to create and share video streams with a central server being replaced with Cloud computing services, user-generated content sites are often misused by sharing copyrighted content without permission of the owner.
- Streaming can infringe on multiple protected rights such as public performance, reproduction, and, in some cases, distribution.
- While downloading and distributing unauthorized content is a felony, streaming the content without permission is only a misdemeanor because today’s technology evolves faster than copyright laws can.
- VidAngel, a subscription service that allowed users to edit nudity, profanity, sexual content, and violence out of Hollywood films were accused of infringing on copyright laws regarding streaming entertainment without authorization. The argument was that the Family Movie Act of 2005 did not protect VidAngels movies because they were not authorized by the studio that owned the copyright.