Industry and Copyright Law

One of the basic elements to take into account in reevaluating industrial practices and business models in the motion pictures and sound recordings industries is the relationship that exists between technology and copyright law.

Although there are view points propounding the demise of copyright and doubting its relevancy in the age of technological development, it is submitted here that, to the contrary, there is a dynamic relationship between the law and technology that is very much alive even in this age, which ought not to be undermined because it is only through understanding this dynamic relationship can we better understand how the motion pictures and sound recordings industries may build industrial practices and business models that allow for the successful commercialization of film and music.

This dynamic relationship between copyright law and technology has risen to the forefront today with the development of Internet technologies and the digital platform when it has become obvious to copyright holders and technology developers that the digital technologies running on the Internet now allow for copyrighted content to be reproduced and distributed in a manner that is not confined by the physical parameters that were previously set by analog technology.

It is obvious here that this dynamic relationship between copyright law and technology is of such a nature that there will be a resulting equilibrium born of the conflict between copyright law and the new digital platform technology, which is faced today. This equilibrium, shaped by various external and internal forces that surround the creative content industries and technology developers, will present copyright owners with opportunities to successfully commercialize their works.

At this point however, the emergence of this equilibrium is stifled by the conflicts that exist between creative content owners and technology developers in what is referred to as the "battle between the content and high technology sectors of the economy. "  With content owners certainly affected by the mass reproduction and distribution of copyrighted content and technology developers, on the other hand, largely benefiting from unauthorized consumer access to these content, through the Internet and digital technologies, the rift in the relationship between copyright law and technology has definitely become pronounced.

The enactment of a law such as the proposed Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Act, which requires the Federal Communications Commission, having consulted the Copyright Office, to establish security system standards and encoding rules for all digital media devices sold or offered for sale in the United States, will inevitably involve government decision making in the development of digital technologies and adversely affect the technology marketplace, tilting the balance in favor of content owners.

More fundamentally however, despite this conflict, there exists a symbiosis between content owners and technology developers, which stem from economic structures and evolutionary paths that were established long ago when technology developers were also the owners of content. Thomas Edison, for example, built the kinetoscope and produced films for the technology. Edison, who also invented the gramophone, had been the producer of the sound recordings for the gramophone at the same time.

The divergence that exists today between content owners and technology developers came about as patents over new technologies expired and consumer demand for creative content grew. Soon, those, who produced, packaged and distributed content most successfully formed the content industries and those, who focused on the development of consumer electronic products, broadcasting equipment and exhibition devices that supported content production, distribution and exhibition, became known as technology developers.

This divergence bears upon our understanding of the relationship between copyright law and technology because it illustrates the dependence copyrighted content has on new technologies in its various stages of production, distribution and exhibition. Copyright law, which is designed to encourage the production of content for the general public, works in tandem with technology to bring a work of creativity into fruition and ensures that the work is distributed to the public.

The dynamics of this relationship between the law and technology will reproduce a new equilibrium for content to be produced, distributed to the public and by extension, successfully commercialized, whenever a new technology disrupts this balance. If we begin to understand that there is a dynamic relationship between copyright law and technology, which will recreate equilibrium whenever a new technology is introduced that disrupts the present manner of producing, distributing and exhibiting creative works, we do see a more underlying truth, which is that copyright is after all "technology's child from the start.

" Indeed, copyright law plays a large role in ensuring that the creative work of the copyright owner is successfully commercialized and by "connecting supply to demand, creators to consumers, authors to their audiences, copyright gives producers the legal implements they need to offer their works to customers. "  The symbiotic relationship between content owners and technology developers coupled with the fact that copyright law developed as a result of a new technology form the foundation for the dynamic relationship between copyright law and technology to exist.

The new technologies of the Internet that allow content to be reproduced and distributed at a seemingly alarming rate may disrupt the workings of the motion pictures and sound recordings industries and heighten the conflict between copyright owners and technology developers. However, it is submitted that the motion pictures and sound recordings industries are in a position to respond to the changing technological environment through industrial practices and business models which allow their works to be successfully commercialized by recognizing that there is a dynamic relationship between copyright law and technology.

A realization that the dynamics of the relationship between copyright law and technology always achieve an equilibrium when a new technology causes disruption to the balance prevents the motion pictures and sound recordings industries from responding to technological change through the exertion of greater control over their works, their consumers, new markets and new technologies, and allows the industries to develop and build industrial practices and business models that facilitate the successful commercialization of creative content based on an understanding of the dynamics between copyright law and technology.

It is submitted here that the dynamics between copyright law and technology is an element that ought to be given considerable weight in the commercialization of creative content in an age when the Internet and digital technologies allow an unprecedented access to works by consumers and it is through this understanding that the motion pictures and sound recordings industries may develop industrial practices and business models that facilitate the successful commercialization of their works.