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The lines between television, film and the internet continue to blur. A single project may have a life in all these media and others. You need expert advise in your corner to help navigate this brave new world of media and distribution. We can advise you, in business and the law, so that you can focus on creating your art.

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This does not affect your statutory rights. There is no area of business that is more dramatically affected by the explosion of web-based services delivered to computers, PDAs and mobile phones than the film and television industries. The web is creating radical new ways of marketing and delivering television and film content; one that draws in not simply traditional broadcasters and producers but a whole new range of organizations such as news organizations, web companies and mobile phone service providers. This includes terms of contract and copyright as they affect studios, broadcasters, sales agents, distributors, internet service providers, film financiers, and online film retailers; as well as areas such as the licensing of rights.

It also covers the commercial aspects of delivering film and television services to a customer base, including engaging with new content platforms, strategic agreements with content aggregators, protecting and exploiting intellectual property rights, data and consumer protection, and payment, online marketing and advertising.

Here I will make three points. Second, there are reasons to believe that current adjustments in some fields at least may be unstable. Third, the way that creative workers and cultural industries use the Internet will depend on public policies. The Internet has had relatively little impact on traditional theaters, ballet companies, and orchestras, because such organizations provide a service that requires physical presence in an actual audience.

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Institutions that exhibit the visual arts have also been affected only marginally, although it is possible that virtual museums may develop a more substantial presence. Workers in these sectors are keenly aware of the Internet, of course, and websites and social media play an important role in marketing, sales, and fundraising in all of them. But the Internet has not challenged the basic business models. It is in those industries where the core product—a movie, news story, or musical track—can be downloaded and enjoyed in private that the Internet has been an agent of creative destruction.

Yet, as we have seen, each industry is somewhat different. The film industry, with its project-based production regime and a product that as long as people value the theater experience and theaters must rent their product from studios retains strong social externalities, has made the transition somewhat gracefully, becoming less centralized but no less profitable.


Although film distribution will change, the position of filmmakers—both conglomerates and independents—appears relatively stable. The rise of illegal downloading and the reluctance of many consumers to purchase music; the shift in the legal market from the sale of packaged albums in which strong tracks induced consumers to, in effect, purchase weaker ones to consumer choice and track-based online sales; and, finally, the rise of streaming services and licensing as a source of revenue, have together upended the business models of the major integrated music production companies that dominated the industry in the s.

Note, however, that pain has been felt most keenly by the major companies and their shareholders. By contrast, the Internet appears to have increased the availability of live music returns from which, unlike returns from real-time film exhibition, are in most cases not appropriable by the majors and produced a more vigorous set of popular-music institutions organized around a combination of local and technology-assisted networks in which online services and face-to-face relationships interact.

At the same time, it is somewhat unclear where this new regime is headed. Although revenues for the major companies are beginning to turn up after their steep decline, the new business model is far from certain. Streaming services, despite immense growth and consumer acceptance, have trouble converting free-service users to paid subscribers, and, as a result, provide only relatively modest revenues to record companies and vanishingly small royalties to composers.

Finally, the newspapers industry, and the field of journalism, faces a particularly difficult future, given the reluctance of readers to pay for its product especially when they can obtain much of it legally from newspaper and magazine websites and given the rise of online advertising media that have made newspaper advertising less attractive to traditional purchases. And, of course, as paid circulation declines, so do advertising rates for physical media.

Displaced journalists have produced an efflorescence of journalistic blogging, and some have combined forces to produce successful web-based publications and even to undertake serious investigative journalism. But how long such efforts can survive, and how widely they can scale, remains uncertain. The issue is less whether newspapers will survive than whether they will be willing and able to pay for the quality of reporting—especially local and international news and investigative reporting—that healthy democracies require.

These developments will, of course, be affected by public policy. Intellectual property policy has been an especially highly contested field of struggle. Confronted by downloading, media firms have fought back in country after country, succeeding in tightening restrictions on downloading and increasing penalties in France, Sweden, the United States, and many other nations. And all too often, media companies have sought copyright expansion that has endangered traditional notions of fair use including secondary uses by artists and educators , without solving the underlying problem of illegal digital distribution Lessig In the longer run, the structure of the Internet itself may change depending on the outcome of debates over the relative rights and obligations of content providers, online businesses, cable television companies, and other Internet service providers, as well as regulation of the flow of information and the openness of systems in mobile devices.

The issues involved are technical, and they will be critically important in determining whether the Internet will continue to be as open and useful to creative workers and their publics as it is today Benkler ; Crawford Here I consider just a few of these broader possibilities. In much of the world, the rise of the Internet appears to have come at a time of increased interest in many forms of cultural expression, including the arts, political debate, and religion.

In the field of music, for example, one indicator is retail activity in musical instrument and supply stores: if more people are playing music, these stores should thrive.

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Will we benefit from increased cultural diversity? Technology has reduced the cost of storing inventory—which now requires space on a server rather than a warehouse—making it easier for firms to profit from supplying artifacts for which there is relatively little demand. That this has occurred is indisputable. The effect on taste is less certain, for two reasons.

First, culture is an experience good: how much one gets out of listening to music or viewing a museum exhibit depends, in part, on how much experience one has with this kind of art beforehand. This is even more true for artistic styles or genres that are intellectually challenging or based on novel or unfamiliar aesthetic conventions [Caves ]. Second, psychologists recognize that most people respond poorly to choice, especially if it is in a field in which they are not already well versed: after a fairly low threshold their subjective utility declines as the number of options amongst which they must choose rises Schwartz For those who are passionate about music, art, or film, the enhanced availability that the Internet provides is a tremendous boon.

For those who are indifferent it is a matter of no concern. But for those in between, who enjoy the arts but are disinclined to invest much of their time in learning about them, expanded choice may be more irksome than beneficial. A world of omnivores? This development antedated the Internet, but the technology provides extensive affordances for its growth. To be sure, research in France, Spain, and the U. But certainly in so far as social changes have increased the tendency of educated people to explore and become familiar with a wide range of cultural forms, the Internet makes that much easier.

Or will the Internet lead to cultural balkanization? At the onset of the Internet, legal scholar Cass Sunstein predicted that the vast array of views and information on the Internet would lead to cultural and political balkanization, as consumers exposed themselves only to views that were congenial. It turned out that Americans, at least, did not need the Internet to accomplish that: the emergence of politically polarized networks on cable news effectively accomplished the same thing.

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But the underlying concern remains and, indeed, has grown stronger, especially in the U. In other words, the Internet lays a table before us of unprecedented abundance, and then tries to keep us from that table by constantly showing us reflections of ourselves. What we do not yet know is to what extent people will choose to overcome these tendencies and explore the wider range of ideas and styles that the Internet can provide. A new form of cultural inequality? The assumption behind this expectation is that well-informed people value information more highly than people with little information, so that they will acquire more of it if the price goes down.

Another study Tepper and Hargittai demonstrated similar dynamics in the field of music: students from higher social class backgrounds used a broader range of websites and P2P sources to explore new kinds of music, developing greater expertise and getting more out of their online experience than students from more humble backgrounds. The implications of this research are sobering.

The Internet provides a remarkably rich supply of art, music, and information, enabling citizens to dig deeper into the policy issues before them, to learn more about their worlds, and to enjoy an unprecedented wealth of aesthetic experience. But it is unclear just how many people this potential will benefit. Other users may be unaware of the possibilities or unwilling to take the time to explore a range of new ideas and unfamiliar options.

And the significant minorities who still lack meaningful Internet access will, of course, have no choice. The possibility that the Internet may usher us into a world of even greater cultural and informational inequality—one in which an educated elite gets its information and entertainment online from a vast range of diverse sources, while the majority settle for the offerings of chastened and diminished giant media firms—poses a challenge to both cultural and political democracy. The number of tracks comes from Spotify, which notes that not all tracks are licensed for all countries in which it operates.

Acland, Charles. February Albinsson, Staffan. Anderson, Chris. New York: Hyperion, Baym, Nancy K. Benkler, Yochai. New Haven: Yale University Press, BLS U.