CCW Discusses OTT Rights and Their Complexities

The Content and Communications World (CCW) conference and expo in New York addressed all topics surrounding the TV world from a technology and distribution perspective. With the major disruptions currently working through the home entertainment world, one of the topics is, of course, the safety of the content and protection from unauthorized access.

Digital rights management has been a hot and controversially discussed topic for years. The latest developments in the TV arena are of course changing the status quo of TV content distribution and are affecting the digital rights situation.

This issue was discussed at CCW during a panel discussion with Jim Burger (Thompson Coburrn LLC), James Goodmon Jr. (CBC New Media Group), Gregg Guest (FADEL) and Dounia Turrill (Nielsen).

The key issues around rights management with OTT and other digital media services are manifold, but it seems clear to most players that technology cannot protect content in the world of browser-based players. In particular, geolocation locks are vulnerable as they are used today by some providers and can easily be tricked into allowing access at any point in the world. Similar locks are always likely to be beatable as the infrastructure now includes browser-based players, the favorite playing field for all hackers in the world.

On the other hand, the basis for any legal changes covering this new reality in home entertainment requires new or changed laws. This in turn requires support by the law makers, not an easy feat as far as the USA is concerned. This adds a complexity that goes beyond any geographic boundaries. In the past, every country had to figure out how to protect content, now they may all have to come together to reach an agreement. Considering the political barriers to coming to international agreements, this solution may not be attainable any time soon. Different countries are likely to adopt different laws at different times, opening loopholes for the worldwide distribution of content.

Most contracts between content creators and the respective buyers in the USA are being rewritten to include all forms of content distribution instead of just the typical cable, dish and similar distribution channels. This is likely to also include distribution rights for UHD/4K content.

The panel also discussed how changes with the whole buying process may affect the current business model. If successful content creators create direct distribution channels by utilizing internet distribution, the whole TV business model may fail in the future. They see the strongest protection against such trends by buying episodes up-front, taking the risk out of the deal for the producers. This will probably work until the first producer takes the risk and succeeds. – Norbert Hildebrand

Display Daily Comments

Norbert is pessimistic, but the US authorities put huge pressure on Russia when the Russian courts decided that a) copyright only applied to physical works, not digital and that b) fees only needed to be paid to content creators and not publishers. This allowed to sell albums for 1$ for a while, but the pressure from the US was huge and Russia moved to come in line with international norms. (BR)