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

  • Wheeler Resignation May Spell Demise of Set-Top Box Deregulation FCC Chair Tom Wheeler has announced his resignation effective upon Donald Trump’s inauguration. The President-elect has not yet announced his choice to replace Wheeler, but it’s a safe bet that the new Republican majority on the Commission will encourage a more freewheeling regulatory climate. This blog has followed closely Wheeler’s efforts to force cable operators to permit competition from third-party set-top box providers. Although the proposal nominally promotes free market competition, the two current Republican FCC commissioners have expressed their opposition... More
  • Top Chef Extortion Case Heats Up In May 2014, filming for Season 12 of the hit Bravo reality series Top Chef began in Boston, Massachusetts.  Members of Teamsters Local 25 demanded union staffing on the show.  The production, however, did not need any additional crew members and rejected the Teamster’s demands.  Several members of Local 25 threatened to picket the production if they were not hired, and they followed through on their word.  As a result, five of those Teamsters have been charged with felony counts... More
  • Why Trump Really Won: The Medium Is the Message Trump’s election was a shocking surprise to many–Democrats and Republicans alike. Explanations for the upset have ranged from the benign to the sinister. What few have focused on is how Trump’s understanding of a transformed media environment enabled an unlikely candidate with no political experience to ride to victory. Copyright: fgnopporn / 123RF Stock Photo In 1964, the media scholar Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The Medium Is the Message.” McLuhan’s insight was that the qualities of communications media themselves are more... More
  • DreamWorks Animation Settles Animator Poaching Suit DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. has agreed to pay a class of animators $50 Million to settle a class action suit against DreamWorks’ alleged “gentlemen’s agreement” not to poach animators employed by other animation studios or to get into bidding wars with those other studios for animators’ services.  The suit targeted not just DreamWorks, but also Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc., and Sony Pictures Animation, Inc., Blue Sky Studios, Walt Disney Co, Pixar Inc., LucasFilm Ltd and ImageMovers Digital LLC. Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc.,... More
  • 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