Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Intellectual Property in Entertainment Companies

During my internship, I am meeting different people from various companies every day. A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to meet the global head investor of Sony – one of the largest tech companies. One of the things that I learnt from this is that intellectual property is becoming a more and more important concern to companies today. When illegal streaming and illegal downloads are becoming so common, companies are trying to find more ways to protect their intellectual property.

One of the ways that movie and music industries have begun to overcome that is with streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Netflix. By providing customers with a relatively low-cost way to access copyrighted material through a subscription fee, companies like Sony that provide entertainment media can protect their materials. Customers who would have otherwise illegally accessed copyrighted material can instead legally stream this material on these platforms.  

However, this does not necessarily fix all the problems faced by entertainment companies. In countries where these streaming services are largely regulated or sometimes even banned, like China, illegal distribution still occurs. Thus, companies need to find ways to stem this illegal distribution or work with authorities to gain greater access to the market. One of the ways that this can be done is through censoring sensitive material that would make the governments in these countries more willing to allow films or music to be distributed. (Though this might bring up political concerns like the freedom of information and media.)

Additionally, I learnt that smaller companies who cannot tap onto these ways of protecting their intellectual property are at a great disadvantage. Small, independent, freelance web designers, graphic designers and artists might have their work circulated for free. This prevents them from making a living from their work. Legally, greater action needs to be taken. But as a society, we all need to become more aware of the need to respect intellectual property and the effort that others put into their work.