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The Copyright News from 2018

by Frank Rittman

W'ell always remember 2018 as the year that the number of scripted TV shows made exclusively for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu surpassed shows made for broadcast and basic cable for the first time ever.

Their high-quality original content, translated into 'event' and 'prestige' television that can be enjoyed by viewers in the comfort of their own homes.



Contrary to earlier studies that the Centre for Content Promotion reported last Fall showing millennials like the shared experience and quality of watching broadcast TV and cable, a more recent survey from Europe suggests they seem to be satisfied watching content from streaming services, because they seem provide content they want to watch.



Taken as a whole, the cord-cutting trend is transforming more than just pay TV with even streaming services going after traditional awards such as the Oscars with original movies such as Roma and Emmy award winners like Stranger Things or Big Little Lies.


Interestingly, a new study finds that people who go to movies in cinemas more frequently also consume more streaming content. Streaming is drawing away viewers from broadcast TV and cable sectors rather than the theatrical market, it seems.


However, market forces aren't usually left merely to their own devices. In order to protect media industries in its member states from the streaming onslaught, the European Commission is now in discussions with stakeholders on how its broadcast quotas for locally-produced original content will be calculated. The commission is aiming for the process to be completed and details to be made available by the end of 2019. In Italy, all Italian-made movies need to screen in a theatre before appearing on screening services and the law there now requires a 105 day gap between theatrical release and streaming.


In Australia, even as piracy subtitle websites are blocked and online piracy laws expanding site-blocking measures are passed, regulators are mulling over a quota for local content for streaming services. Hugh Stephens looks at how issues such as Brexit, the TPP and copyright reform affected copyright in various countries last year.

As streaming services produce more and more original content, they are having to think about piracy too. On track to more than half a million subscribers in Thailand by 2020, Netflix became the first to file a complaint with COPTICS, the new anti-piracy agency that is a collaboration between the Thai police and the country's IP ministry.


Video games are following television and music into the cloud, with the promise of console-quality games on internet-linked devices. Operators are looking at new uses for their 5G networks and Virtual Reality (VR) seems to be a new opportunity to rethink content and its monetization as well as its distribution, delivering a movie theatre experience in viewer's living rooms. Anti-piracy software integrated into games makes them harder to pirate, even if it means annoying gamers who claim it slows them down.



In any case, as pay TV numbers are hit hardest, streaming services such as the user-friendly multi-channel option Youtube are proliferating to compete with incumbent Netflix, and Disney and Apple TV that will launch this year. Even grocers like Costco and Walmart are racing to own a piece of streaming tv, especially for the ability to offer advertising and track consumer behavior. 2019 is going to be nothing if not entertaining.


To paraphrase the doyenne of TV Oprah Winfrey, cheers to the new year and another chance to get it right!

Frank Rittman is the Founding Director and Counsel at the Centre for Content Promotion

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