Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My 1200th Post! Ivi's Fate Encapsulates the Myriad Themes That Are "Digital Media"

This marks my 1,200th post.  That's a lot of early mornings.  That's a lot of cups of coffee.  And, that's a lot of writing.  If you lined up the words I have written over the past 6.5 years (I started this blog back on October 11, 2006 -- here is post #1), they would stretch from here to the moon and back 3 times.  (Okay, you probably figured out that that can't be true, but I felt it was time to make some kind of dramatic statement to memorialize this auspicious event -- this personal milestone).

Perhaps I should write something profound.  But, I won't try.  

Instead, here's a digital media news headline from today that kind of summarizes the myriad issues of "the day" in this digital media world -- this era in which media and technology are converging, disrupting, and (hopefully) creating new business models ... all right before our eyes and without a map.

Here it is -- and I'll explain why it is a note-worthy digital media case.

The U.S. Supreme Court just declined to hear the appeal of a small little Seattle-based digital media company called "Ivi" that was in the game of rebroadcasting TV programming over the Internet.  Ivi had appealed the U.S. Court of Appeal's refusal to reverse the trial court's grant of a preliminary injunction prohibiting Ivi from "doing it's thing."  The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to act actually acted as the death knell to Ivi.  Ivi shall be no more.  Ivi lost.  Major media (the plaintiffs in the case) -- including ABC, Disney, CBS NBC, Telemundo, Cox Media and a host of others -- won.

And, this case may have significant repercussions against others, including Barry Diller's Aereo service that has been in the cross-hairs of major media from the very beginning for similar reasons -- for being in the game of rebroadcasting "TV" over the internet without having the content licensing deals that those media companies argue it must have.

So, this story alone is noteworthy in the digital media world.

But, for me -- and for my 1,200th post -- it also nicely encapsulates some broad themes I/we all face in this brave new world of media and technology (aka "digital media").  Here are some that come to mind:

(1) "Digital media" is a constantly-evolving landscape filled with uncertainty.  Technology outpaces the  legal frameworks that try to contain it.

(2) The resulting legal resolutions by the courts frequently are a patchwork of after-the-fact justifications and rationalizations, rather than truly well-thought out and intellectually honest analyses.

(3) These realities should be of interest to all of us in the media game -- and that means just about everyone in the world of distributing content of any kind via any platform in this multi-screen world (which means just about all of us).

(4) They certainly are interesting to me, since I began my career as a media/entertainment/IP attorney "back in the day" -- and I have continuously benefitted from that training throughout my career (both as general counsel of a major operating division of Universal Studios in the 1990s, and throughout the 2000s and into running my 4th digital media company).

(5) Traditional media business models -- both on the content creation and distribution side -- are constantly under threat.  I personally witnessed tremendous disruption and dislocation in the world of music as President & COO of Musicmatch in the early 90's, and I continue to see it almost daily in the wonderful world of online video (including both online distribution of motion pictures and television).

To wit -- Ivi.

To me, all of this is incredibly cool.  I feel extremely fortunate to be directly in the midst of all of this revolutionary change -- to be part of it -- to drive it one way or another in my own small way.  And, I feel fortunate to have been living my career in this way from the very beginning.  With lots of opportunity.  Lots of uncertainty.  Lots of risk.

And, lots of fun.

Whether you are a long-time reader.  Whether this is the first post of mine that you have read.  Or whether it is the last.  Thanks for allowing my myriad musings leave my keypad and enter your consciousness.  Hopefully they offered an occasional insight ... or at least an occasional chuckle.

It is good to know that all of that caffeine over the years was not all for naught.

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