Blog – Pay or Play

Authored by the attorneys in the firm’s Entertainment Department, this blog provides a legal perspective on the latest issues and trends affecting the entertainment industry, including digital content, multichannel networks, celebrity branding and artist and performer management as well as commentary on music law and media distribution law.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Set-Top Box Deregulation: The Gloves Come Off The FCC proposal to deregulate cable and satellite television set-top boxes is facing heavy headwinds as powerful interests line up in opposition. The current proposal is itself a compromise to its original proposal to require providers to give access to their information streams to other set-top box makers. In response to powerful opposition, the proposal was modified to require content to be delivered through apps instead, which the FCC says will give providers end-to-end control over their content. The change... More
  • Wheeler Set-Top Box Proposal: It’s Apps Continuing the process that began earlier this year, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler has issued a proposal to the Commission to implement the deregulation of cable set-top boxes. Wheeler’s proposal will require cable and satellite system operators (MSOs) to offer subscribers access to their services by means of a free app. Consumers could keep their boxes or download the app to an alternative device such as a smart TV, Apple or Roku box, or an XBox or Playstation console. In an LA... More
  • Set-Top Box Update: Flame Wars The battle lines are hardening in the controversy over the FCC’s proposal to deregulate cable set-top boxes. The US Copyright Office recently weighed in against the proposal, on the grounds that it would undermine the ability of cable multi-system operators (MSOs) to enter into stable license agreements with copyright owners. This, the Copyright Office declared, would create a disincentive for the MSOs to pay for content, ultimately harming both creators and consumers. The copyright lobbying group Copyright Alliance promptly issued a... More
  • Has Virtual Reality Found Its Killer App? (Hint: It’s Not VR) It looks like virtual reality (VR) has found its killer app, and it’s not VR at all. Pokémon Go is an augmented reality (AR) application that has exploded in popularity since its recent release. AR differs from VR in that it offers a live view of the physical environment augmented by a digital overlay.  The game is based on a Nintendo Game Boy game that dates back to 1995. The object is to capture and train a variety of creatures called Pokémon. Pokémon Go takes... More
  • VidCon Grows Up The biggest takeaway from VidCon this year is the increasing presence of companies with no direct relationship to online video. Sure, it’s not a big surprise to see movie promotions, such as the big booth for Secret Life of Pets, but there were also booths hawking products from candy to cars. The marketers who have been flocking to ComicCon for years know that engaged superfans have the power to build buzz for their goods. VidCon is another powerful venue to find... More
  • McConnell to FCC: Hands Off My Cable Box Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called on FCC Chair Tom Wheeler to reconsider his proposal to unlock cable and satellite set-top boxes. McConnell cited concerns over copyright, consumer costs and the impact on cable providers and customers in rural areas. This is a further escalation of the broad opposition to the plan from all sides of the political spectrum. At least 150 Congressmembers, mostly Democrats, have voiced their opposition to the plan. The controversy has not deterred Wheeler so far. In a letter... More
  • Net Neutrality Clears Judicial Hurdle The DC Circuit issued a decision today broadly upholding the FCC’s net neutrality rules. Those rules defined internet service providers (ISPs) as utilities, subjecting them to the same high level of regulation as landline telephone companies.  The rules in question require ISPs to treat all content equally as it passes through their pipes to consumers. The ruling also opens the door to further regulation of ISPs, on privacy issues, for example. The decision was hailed by consumer advocacy groups, as well... More
  • Set-Top Box Deregulation: The Storm Continues I’ve blogged previously on the push by FCC chair Tom Wheeler to compel cable and satellite providers to permit consumers to use third-party set top boxes. Despite opposition from across the political spectrum, Wheeler is sticking to his guns to get the regulations passed before his tenure ends, which will likely be after the next President takes office. The pay-TV providers are naturally among the leading voices lobbying against the proposed rules, but opposition has come from a number of other... More
  • Relativity Wins Bid to Protect Theatrical Release Window A clash between Netflix and Relativity Media in bankruptcy court has made public some interesting behind-the-scenes business dealings between the two companies, and in the process shed some light on the evolution of Netflix’s business and of online distribution generally. In 2010, Netflix entered into a licensing agreement with Relativity under which the studio would deliver 12 features per year for release on Netflix’s subscription streaming service. The agreement provided for payment of seven-figure minimum guarantees, plus additional payments based on theatrical box... More
  • Set-Top Box Deregulation: Latest Developments In January the FCC proposed rules to establish open standards for set-top boxes. The notice and comment period on those rules is nearing its end. As it is likely that the FCC will move forward with its planned deregulation, the groups in opposition are concentrating on shaping the rules to result in minimal disruption to the perceived benefits of the current system. The Motion Picture Association of America and SAG-AFTRA issued a joint comment articulating their concerns, and in the process making it clear... More