Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown: Why Content’s Kingdom is Slipping Away


This Article examines the ongoing power struggle between the content industries (with a particular focus on Hollywood) and the technology industry. These two sectors are intertwined like never before, yet their fates seem wildly divergent, with content stumbling while distribution technology thrives.

The Article begins by illustrating that, even before the recession took hold, traditional paid content was in trouble, and that this was and is true across a range of distribution platforms and content types, including theatrical motion pictures, home video, network television, music, newspapers, books, and magazines. The Article next posits six reasons for content’s discontent: supply and demand, the decline of tangible media, reduced transaction costs for intangible media, the rise of free content, market forces in the technology industry, and the culture of piracy. The result of these factors has been a migration of audiences from paid professional content to free content, whether user-generated, ad-supported, or pirated.

The Article then briefly contrasts the technology industry’s economic success (albeit tempered by the recession) and history of innovation. It next examines Hollywood’s responses to technological challenge—responses that have included litigation, legislation, and various business responses. The Article notes that none of these responses have been successful so far, and concludes by examining the dilemma that paid content creators and companies now face.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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