In my last post, I looked at the ‘digital shift’. In this post, I'm going to list the ten overriding, interlinked themes which characterise this shift and shape digital media’s legal agenda. I'll also describe the first 3 themes. I'll look at the remaining themes in my next two posts. In future, when I blog about a new case or legal/business development, I'll 'tag' the post with the relevant theme(s) so that, hopefully, we can continue to see the digital wood for the trees.
So here are the themes:
T1: Digital disruption in the value chain
T2: Being IP centric, platform agnostic
T3: The rise and rise of social media
T4: The digital citizen/consumer calling the shots
T5: Mind the [digital] platform
T6: Collaboration is the name of the game
T7: Consolidation & Fragmentation
T8: It's a mobile economy
T9: Wer'e all in the technology business
T10: It's a borderless world.
I'll now turn to the first three:
T1: ‘Digital Disruption’ in the value chain
Digital disruption is a fact of digital media life. The disrupters are everywhere.
They’re new players, often ‘born digital’ businesses, which enter an industry and create an entirely new business which didn’t exist before e.g.a new consumer products business which use ‘the crowd’ as their ‘R&D’ division to identify new inventions and product or a new entrant like anobii, a social platform for book recommendations.
They’re also new players who enter an industry and perform an an existing activity in the value chain better and/or differently to existing incumbents and in the process displace them.‘Kobalt’ is an example, a new online platform which offers a service to streamline royalty payments to artistes.
But ‘digital disrupters’ are also existing players who reinvent themselves and in the process even cannibalise part of their business in order to create a new business and income stream e.g. Getty’s ‘istockphoto’ service.
So what’s on the legal agenda with TI? They include the legal structurees which underpin business models and the contracts and business relationships which implement them; applying existing laws to new models e.g. when is a ‘sale’ of a digital work a licence or vice versa? (See here); & watch out for developments in the US case of Capitol Records v. ReDigi which again examines whether a digital file is a licence or a digital good.
T2: ‘IP Centric, platform agnostic’
Increasingly, content owners are “getting” the fact that they need to take a ‘360 degree’ approach to their intellectual property (IP) in a multi-platform world, multi-format world. For instance, a number of leading publishers have recently created new roles with responsibility to transition publishers into being multi-platform organisations. Often, the people appointed come from outside the industry - games, television etc. - with cross-platform experience.
At the heart of this '360 degree’ approach is a ‘format/platform neutral’ approach to IP and new products and services. In turn, this demands skill in being innovative with IP creation and exploitation, building new business models etc. It also puts IP rights, especially copyright and trade marks (brands) at the heart of the business.
T2’s legal issues include the role of copyright and the copyright reform agenda (Hargreaves etc.), including proposed changes to copyright law. The bigger picture is how copyright continues to maintain the balance between rights holders, users and intermediaries. This is a dynamic area. Only last week, Germany's Parliament have introduced a new 'neighouring right' which gives print publishers the right to licence their web content. This is a hugely significant development.
More broadly, IP covers a whole range of rights including those in brands, designs and patents. These can be used both offensively - see in the ‘patent wars’ in the digital space and defensively. No creative company can be without an IP strategy
T3: The rise and rise of social media
It's already a truism to say that social platforms such as Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter and Pinterest are playing an increasingly significant role n business. For some, these platforms may simply be relevant from a marketing and PR perspective e.g. a company having a FaceBook page to build engagement with its customers.
For others, especially those in the media and information sectors, these social platforms are becoming increasingly integrated into their business. For instance, digital services provider ‘Soundcloud’ are embedded within FaceBook so that FaceBook users can launch sounds on SoundCloud rom within Facebook. This integration process is two way – Facebook is also embedded into these services.
So what are the ‘T3’ legal issues? Linked to social media, but not confined to it, is the whole issue of tracking consumers’ behaviour online and using this data in an aggregated way for marketing and
advertising purposes. This brings us to the heart of the debate about privacy and data protection.
Also, the presence of celebrities, public figures and others on social media such as Twitter makes reputation management an increasingly important area, which from a legal perspective brings defamation into the picture along with the laws and regulations governing data protection, consumer protection and marketing and advertising.
I'll continue this theme in my next post.
Finally, if you enjoy my blog post, please share it with colleagues and anyone else you think may encourage them, with a suggestion that they might like to subscribe.
Have a good week