Beyond streaming: law, tech and entertainment


Written by: Rendle Adam and Anne-Marie Pecoraro

LawyerRendle Adam and Anne-Marie Pecoraro have written the annual book of the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers, looking at the future of technology in the entertainment industries and the legal implications. They produced for MIDEM a ‘white paper’ foreshadowing its contents. It is an impressive summary of our situation.

The white paper begins: The music industry is growing again. Technology inflicted some serious, deep wounds starting in the late 1990s; technology, in the shape of portable devices, downloads and streaming services, started to stem, slowly, the flow of blood from the mid-2000s; and now technology is supporting a return to growth and generating disruptive and evolving avenues for revenue growth. We’ve gone from technology destroying value in the industry, to supporting value creation. The BPI’s Geoff Taylor puts it nicely when attributing positive growth figures for 2016 to “recorded music’s investments in a digital future”.

Here is a brief indication of contents.

What does growth mean in the music industry?

2015 marked the first in nearly 20 years that global revenue increase and the first year that digital music sales surpassed physical sales. In the UK, the value of audio streaming increased 500% from 2013-16. ‘Goldman Sachs predicts that “the rising popularity and sophistication of streaming platforms is ushering in a second digital revolution” and that “the growth of streaming will help music revenues almost double by 2030 to $104 billion”.’

Streaming growth and the challenges of the value gap and piracy

There is very rapid growth in streaming revenue – eg in the US from 2015 to 2016, 57%. In the UK, audio streaming accounts for one third of music consumption. Spotify and Apple dominate. There are still problems with piracy.

How usages and laws are responding to growth technologies

The authors see three sets of technologies as most important: virtual, augmented and mixed reality; smart homes and the internet of things; and monetising data.

Technologies will help track, monitor usages, power more personalised services. Blockchain will gain traction.

Virtual, augmented and mixed reality

VR could completely reshape the existing ways of shaping content. Goldman Sax estimates its market to be worth US$80 billion by 2025. Compliance with data privacy regulations could be a principal challenge. There will be issues around copyright: what content is protected and who owns it? What new content licensing strategies will be needed/

Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence

Legal questions are raised by these new practices, related to liability risks, personal data, consumer protection and contract laws.

Monetisation of data

Increasingly, value is created through the collection and processing of user data. Applying data analytics in the entertainment business allows for new and better products in the digital sphere through personalization and optimization of content and targeting of advertising. And, of course, leading online businesses such as Facebook creates value almost exclusively by using personal data. But there are troubling issues around privacy.

Tracking and monitoring usages

New technologies using fingerprinting and machine learning have been developed to improve online tracking of usages, from music to audio-visual streaming, allowing more transparency and efficiency and fairer distribution. They also allow copyright collecting societies to monitor the use of music in public spaces.

The incoming use of blockchain technology in the entertainment industry  

Blockchain technology will support secure online transactions, both sellers and buyers. Collecting societies will continue to have a role. ‘Anonymous and permissionless blockchains which need miners verifying the authenticity of newly created blocks of transactions, could be the true drivers of innovation and disruption in areas where trust is not so important, providing new ways to connect with artists, music and each other.’

Disrupting piracy

Live streaming is making it increasingly difficult for rights holders to keep track of the use of their works. The solution could depend especially on the use of new disruptive technology to disrupt the pirates. Digital fingerprinting is helping.

Rendle Adam is Senior Associate, Taylor Wessing’s IP & Media group. Anne-Marie Pecoraro is a Founding Partner at A Turquoise. The above is a summary of a summary. Remember that the book will be available.


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