The field of media law has become increasingly more important as industry continues to forge ahead into the current digital age. The fragmented nature of today’s media landscape continues to highlight the potential for new or enhanced legal issues.
“New Media Law” refers, generally, to legal issues impacting the media and telecommunications industries, such as free speech, defamation, copyright, and censorship. Matters related to privacy might also be included, as well as questions of whether content may be printed, broadcast over the air, or published online. Media law is slightly different than entertainment law which covers content production and distribution, and involves mostly contractual issues.
Not much more than a century ago, “the media” primarily consisted of print and live performances. Known as “traditional media,” the industry continued to expand and later encompassed other forms of content, like broadcast television and films.
Keeping pace with technological innovation, today’s media platforms has grown drastically and now comprises, not only printed word, live actors, radio, television, and movies, but also video games, mobile devices, holograms, and the Internet. This “new media” industry includes content-hosting sites such as YouTube, music streaming services like Spotify, and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Shifting focus to predominantly digital forms of media has lead to many unprecedented legal issues and considerations in court rooms and boardrooms. For example, user-generated content (UGC) has given rise to new legal issues involving privacy, copyright, and fair use. Cyberbullying and “fake news” are also leading topics of discussion in new media law roundtables.
The potential legal issues stemming from the current state of media sweep broadly across many facets of the publishing industry, as well as areas of the law, including:
- Entertainment Content Production: Talent agreements. Royalties and Financing.
- PR/Marketing: Branding, Trademarks
- Music Industry: Distribution contracts, licensing, sponsorships
- Internet: Regulations, privacy
- News and Journalism: First Amendment Law, Censorship (prohibition against child pornography, hate speech)
New technologies and forms of media make it possible for individuals to reach very large audiences. Effectively, anyone can be a “publisher”. Entrepreneurs and startups within the new media space are likely to encounter the legal matters above in connection with businesses or technology startup ventures. The law tends to draw fine lines between legally permissible forms of speech and unprotected speech that could expose an individual to liability. The complexities and nuances of media law highlight the importance of consulting with an experienced new media attorney to confer on these critical issues.
Author: David N. Sharifi, Esq. is a Los Angeles based intellectual property attorney and technology startup consultant with focuses in entertainment law, emerging technologies, trademark protection, and “the internet of things”. David was recognized as one of the Top 30 Most Influential Attorneys in Digital Media and E-Commerce Law by the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2014. Office: Ph: 310-751-0181; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The content above is a discussion of legal issues and general information; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as such without seeking professional legal counsel. Reading the content above does not create an attorney-client relationship. All trademarks are the property of L.A. Tech & Media Law Firm or their respective owners. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.