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.
The year 2021, like 2020, has been an unusual and challenging one, as the media and entertainment industries continue to adapt to the ravaging effects of the covid-19 pandemic. While there has been some degree of recovery in many countries, with lockdowns abating and the return of live music, festivals, theatrical performances and live sporting events, attendance at in-person events remains well below the norm. Concert promoters, touring artists and theatre and venue operators remain hard hit by the ongoing effects of the pandemic, but other parts of the media and entertainment industries have fared quite well. Bolstered by the continued growth of on-demand music streaming services, music publishers and record companies are flourishing. The market for on-demand video streaming continues to evolve, with numerous high-profile product launches over the past year, and disruptions to the previously prevailing practice of an exclusive period of theatrical release preceding streaming for high-profile movies. It remains to be seen which changes to the media and entertainment industries in response to the pandemic will prove 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, business, 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 sometimes 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 judgement as to the topics to highlight, recognising that space constraints required some selectivity. As will be plain to the reader, aspects of this legal terrain, particularly those 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