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Rights, Drones, Amateur or Pro Production…Food for Thought at 2015 #NABSHOW

As we recover from our chocolate heaven indulgence at Easter, thousands of people from all corners of the globe will be flying into Las Vegas for 2015 NAB, anticipating new products, new solutions and a chance to enjoy the company of friends and perhaps solicit orders from clients. For many years the main attractions at shows like NAB and Europe’s IBC were the variety of transitions from one format to another or one workflow improvement to another. Studio cameras went up and down in size depending on the format and smartphone cameras are regularly used for news broadcasts and they always offer ever increasingly stunning images.

Today we have a very different product and system landscape but with it comes a new set of issues beyond simply changing the equipment. Display screens have changed in size, resolution and portability but they are no longer used for traditional broadcast programs where certain levels of content controls were in place. Consumers are watching new content but now from other consumers. Over 300 hours of video are now uploaded onto YouTube every minute, content is shared with little controls as to topic as we have seen with either Islamic State videos, criminals caught on camera or the general public caught in compromising situations without their knowledge.

Long gone are the days a production manager carried several release forms to get permission, in case a member of the public was going to be used in a broadcast production or commercial,. Today smartphone selfies, with whoever else is in the vicinity have become a way of life and the general public upload videos, edited or not and few are aware of where their images are being seen.

If you upload a video who’s IP is it? If CBS sells a program or format, they receive compensation from whoever shows it but what about the growing number of amateur videographers. From a cute woodpecker flying with a weasel on its back shot by amateur photographer Martin Le-May, from Essex to explaining the tackle in a football game, we must question whether the rightful owners of the IP are adequately protected.

Although both private and large production companies have uploaded videos to increase their audience sizes, the rights issues still seem a little fuzzy. An amateur aiming to be a pro film-maker might report on a concert of their favorite band but when they upload their report if their audience is large enough to be a YouTube partner, they will benefit from the advertising revenue but will their band benefit from the revenue? On the other hand if a feature film movie is filmed secretly in a theater this is clearly recognized as piracy with associated penalties.

Broadcasters spend substantial amounts of money for the rights to film major sporting events such as the World Cup, the Super Bowl or Formula One but what are the legal implications if a drone equipped with a state of the art lens starts transmitting the images? After all the FAA state that drones cannot fly higher than 400 feet and must remain in line of sight of the operator? We have technology evolving quicker than Government legislation to control it, which puts the content rights in question. Over a million drones have been sold globally with many in operation in the US and only recently has Congress pushed the FAA to issue permits for commercial companies that have lobbied to get the ban on commercial use banned.   But what about our amateur operator wanting to emulate commercial helicopter use, What regulations should be in place for drone filming, but more importantly what makes sense for the safety of athletes and spectators. When Bradley Wiggins was cycling down the Champs Elysees to victory in the Tour de France, would several drones from all the networks hovering overhead have affected his concentration? Furthermore, what safety procedures are in place to ensure that when a drone loses power no one is hurt?

As new technology enters the marketplace, it is time that legislation works alongside technology and product development and doesn’t wait until intellectual property rights, safety and operational recommendations are compromised.

We at Broadcast Beat hope you have a terrific 2015 NAB. When looking around the show, have a great time looking at the new products and technology on offer but   reflect on how to protect production companies, amateur film makers, broadcasters and the public.

Don’t forget to tune in to Broadcast Beat’s live shows where I will be interviewing industry experts on a variety of topics from 2k to 8k transition to IP studios to storage issues.

For the latest 2015 NAB Show news-and-information, stay tuned to Broadcast Beat Magazine! Broadcast Beat is an official 2015 NAB Show Media Partner. Visit our NAB Show Booth #SL15217.

About NAB

The National Association of Broadcasters is the voice for the nation’s radio and television broadcasters. As the premier trade association for broadcasters, NAB advances the interests of our members in federal government, industry and public affairs; improves the quality and profitability of broadcasting; encourages content and technology innovation; and spotlights the important and unique ways stations serve their communities. www.nab.org.

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