The Media and Entertainment Law Review: Editor's Preface

I am pleased to serve as editor and US chapter author of this important survey work on the evolving state of the law around the world as affects the day-to-day operations of the media and entertainment industries.

By any measure, 2020 has been a highly unusual and especially challenging year, particularly for the media and entertainment industries, with large sectors devastated by the effects of the covid-19 pandemic. In many countries, live music, festivals, theatrical performances and sporting events were shut down entirely for much of the year (and, in many cases, remain so), ravaging the businesses that depend on in-person events for their success and the individuals that depend on them for their livelihoods. For other parts of the media and entertainment industries, the results have been uneven. The largest online distributors of books, for example, have generally fared quite well, while many independent bookstores that depend on foot traffic are in dire straits. In the music industry, touring artists, concert promoters, and theatre and venue operators have been particularly hard hit, but most streaming services, music publishers and record companies are continuing to flourish. It remains to be seen which changes to the media and entertainment industries are temporary and which will be permanent.

The pandemic is hardly the only global phenomenon accelerating changes to media and entertainment. We continue to see a rise in challenges to press freedom by repressive government regimes – a phenomenon, it should be noted, that has been testing the strength of free speech traditions in the world's most protective speech regime, the United States. The manifestations include increased censorship, reduced transparency, and more appalling acts of violence against journalists and editors. Around the world, businesses, governments and legal regimes continue to adapt to technological change, with the increased use of artificial intelligence and 'deep fakes' just a few of the examples at the forefront.

This timely survey work provides important insights into the ongoing effects of the digital revolution and evolving (and sometime contrasting) responses to challenges both in applying existing intellectual property laws to digital distribution and in developing appropriate legislative and regulatory responses that meet current e-commerce and consumer protection needs. It should be understood to serve, not as an encyclopedic resource covering the broad and often complex legal landscape affecting the media and entertainment industries but, rather, as a current snapshot of developments and country trends likely to be of greatest interest to the practitioner. Each of the contributors is a subject field expert, and their efforts here are gratefully acknowledged. Each has used his or her best judgment as to the topics to highlight, recognising that space constraints require some selectivity. As will be plain to the reader, aspects of this legal terrain, particularly as relating to the legal and regulatory treatment of digital commerce, remain in flux, with many open issues that call for future clarification.

This work is designed to serve as a brief topical overview, not as the definitive or last word on the subject. You or your legal counsel properly should continue to serve that function.

Benjamin E Marks
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
New York
November 2020

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