Media, Technology and Communications

Media and technology – digitalization brings it all together

Digitalization: a word that every company in Germany has on its agenda. Publishing was one of the first branches to tackle it. For publishing houses, however, the greatest challenge has for years proved to be not only digitizing their content, but how to make money off of it. This entails more than legal hurdles. Copyright law was translated into the digital world early on in various industries (books, print, music, film), and other sectors are now following suit. From cars to refrigerators, from heating to drills, the growing field of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) brings companies face to face with questions in the realms of copyright, telecoms, IT and, above all, data protection.

Content everywhere and all the time

The need for advice on the production, dissemination and processing of content is growing. Even if the media companies were pioneers, they were still driven by technological development. Thus larger players in the industry such as Pro7Sat.1 and Vodafone are cooperating in order to develop a new TV platform. Telecoms is also breaking new ground in offering “stream on” in terms of the pooling and dissemination of content, which immediately raises net neutrality questions again.

When considering the distribution channels of the future, however, one is faced with more questions than simply how to select the right platform. Particularly with respect to live content, providers will have to ask themselves whether they fall within the criteria for broadcasting and thus under the obligations that come with a broadcasting license. A good example of this is the well-known case of video game player Piet Smiet, who had to take his YouTube channel offline as a result.

The topic of video content likewise plays an increasingly significant role. Here, Internet giant Facebook recently penetrated the market, entering into negotiations with Hollywood studios. But the classic film industry has also progressed. Film subsidies from the German Federal Film Fund increased from €50m previously to the current €125m. Germany thus continues to be an appealing location, even for international productions. The major platforms Netflix and Amazon have recently vied for market share, which they are increasingly acquiring with their own in-house productions.

Who owns data?

One result of the process of digitalization is, of course, the production of enormous quantities of data. Even now, a modern car produces around 25 gigabytes of data per hour of driving – and that will only increase as innovations in the direction of the connected car and autonomous driving continue to develop. German politicians have reacted to this, expanding the Road Traffic Law in summer 2017 to include a regulation on highly and fully automated driving and laying the foundations for the use of such vehicles. The legislation also includes stipulations on the recording of data while driving.

But to whom do these data belong? And who has access to it, and to what extent? Now it is not only Google & Co. that recognizes what a valuable asset such data represents. Every industrial company is finding itself confronted with this issue. Data security in particular is high on the agenda, esp. in the political world. The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which enters into force in May 2018, is a first big step.

The processing of data is being subjected to close scrutiny, and this may reveal some skeletons in company closets. “Today, it is no longer sufficient to drive 30 in a 30 zone: you also need a trip recorder to document it” was how an in-house lawyer pithily described the new GDPR. A significant change from the old Federal Data Protection Act to the GDPR is precisely this obligation to document data streams.


Information Technology


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