Archive for category CopyrightInfringment

Whats the Verdict: Is Binge Watching the New Normal? NBC takes the plunge!

Once reserved strictly for online content streaming platforms like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, binge watching seems to have gone mainstream, with big networks beginning to release whole seasons online. The adoption of the binge model by big networks comes precisely at the same time that platforms like Netflix are moving away from it.

Tomorrow NBC will release the the first season of David Duchovny’s new period drama, Aquarius in its entirety online, while at the same time airing one episode a week on TV. In a Hollywood reporter article, NBC Entertainment Chairman, Bob Greenblatt proclaimed this decisions would push new boundaries, while also giving the consumer what they want.

NBC’s jump into the binge party comes at the same time as other’s are begining to question its merit. On May 21, Netflix began airing its new show, Between on a week to week basis. Hulu is also questioning the model and is looking at non binge options for its lineup, and Yahoo’s sixth season of Community is also being released over several weeks.

At the root of this shift is the need to create buzz. Content creators want to be able to build buzz around their shows, that continue over a period of time. The binge model allows for much of this build up. However, once the show is released the hype plummets. Serial releasing of content, on a week by week basis allows for hype to be built throughout a season.

As big networks like NBC move to catch up to online content providers like Netflix, more and more shows will be released on the binge model. The implications of this for the industry could be huge. Networks will have to create more and more content. This means that season story lines will become much longer. This also means that Networks will have to green light more shows. If they no longer have to worry about the physical confines of airtime, networks will be able to produce more shows for online viewers.

The real question is wether or not this is what the consumer wants. Will weekly entertainment transition into becoming fourteen hour obligations to watch an entire season in one weekend? What implications will this have on hiring patterns? What does this trend mean for payouts in the industry?

What do you think the verdict will be?

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What’s The Verdict: ‘Blurred Lines’ Trial Not Over?

What’s The Verdict: ‘Blurred Lines’ Trial Not Over?

It was just a little over a month ago that a jury ruled Blurred Lines was too similar to Got to Give it Up with a $7.4 million verdict paid out by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to the Marvin Gaye Estate. But not so fast. While Thicke and Williams’ lawyers are seeking a new trial, the Gaye family is seeking injunction on further distribution of the song.

This past Friday, Thicke and Williams’ lawyers filed a motion for a new trial based on three reasons: (1) error in jury instructions, (2) improper testimony from a  musicologist, and (3) insufficient evidence.  The defense also claims the jury’s verdict is inconsistent because T.I. was not found liable for copyright infringement, yet he was featured in the song.

Let’s break it down.

In order to determine infringement, copyright should be based purely on the sheet music for Got to Give It Up.  However, Robin Thicke made statements about how Gaye’s “groove” and “feel” influenced his song Blurred Lines.  The argument stands that because the jury heard this statement, which is not part of the printed sheet music, it is “prejudicial and irrelevant” information. Additionally, musicologist Judith Finell’s testimony on the similarities between the two recordings was also “extremely prejudicial.” In effect, the jury’s decision-making abilities were influenced by such biased information and thus did not constitute a fair trial.

Another issue being confronted is that the $7.4 million verdict paid out to the Gaye family is double the profit that was even made from the song.  The elements that were supposedly copied from Got to Give It Up amount to less than 5% of the Blurred Lines composition. This means that the money paid out should be dropped down to a whopping $680,000!

Following the motion for a new trial, the Gaye family also filed two of its own. The first: the Gaye family argues that Interscope, UMG, and other companies should be held accountable for copyright violations and are seeking declaratory relief.  The second: they seek an injunction to stop distribution of the song and if the injunction doesn’t happen, the family is asking for over 50% of all future revenues!  The latter is by far the best case scenario for the Gaye estate because it also means the pay out will be climbing much higher than $7.4 million.

Which way do you think the judge will go? Is a do-over warranted based on the above arguments? The judge will consider the above motions at a hearing scheduled on June 29, unless of course the two parties reach a settlement beforehand but I’m not so sure this will happen. Even if the judge does not grant a new trial, the case will head towards appeal.  This is going to get interesting!

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