Video Choices are Thriving Thanks to the First Amendment, the Copyright Act, and the Free Market

January 26, 2015

A quick glance at the marketplace for television and movies makes it abundantly clear that audiences and creators have much to cheer. Viewers can increasingly watch the movies and TV shows they want at the time and place of their choosing, whether over broadcast, cable, satellite, or online; on a TV or on a tablet. Our country owes this success to our reliance on the First Amendment, the Copyright Act, and the free market, as the MPAA noted in its written response to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s white paper on the video marketplace, the sixth in its series on the Communications Act.

The comments we submitted take a look at the video marketplace for what it is: a vibrant and growing environment defined by massive investment, rampant innovation, and mounting competition. And because the entertainment industry continues to adopt and promote the latest technologies, much of this growth is taking place online. A number of services are finding success—from Netflix and Amazon to HBO and Hulu—by reaching audiences in new ways with over-the-top services.  In fact, there are more than 100 services available in the United States for accessing movies and TV shows lawfully online.

The success of these services can be seen in consumers’ growing appetite for online content. In 2013, alone, consumers accessed 5.7 billion movies and 56 billion TV shows using legal online services. To help viewers navigate among their wide array of options, the MPAA recently created This comprehensive web site allows users to search content by title, actor, or director and then click through to a variety of online sources to access the movie or television show.

If this picture of the video marketplace demonstrates anything, it is that the current framework for the production and distribution of video programming is working, and working very well. So what’s given rise to this thriving competitive environment from which consumers are benefitting?

It’s the hat-trick of the First Amendment, the Copyright Act, and the free market. Our nation’s strong respect for free speech allows filmmakers to tell their stories. The Copyright Act’s existing framework helps incentivize creativity by ensuring that creators are compensated for their hard work. And by ensuring that content can be safely shared, it’s our copyright system that has given rise to a broad array of digital platforms for viewing movies and TV shows. Our reliance on the free market gives content creators the autonomy to embrace new business models, increasing both the production and distribution of content. Coupled together, these three pillars bolster a competitive climate where those creating compelling content in flexible and innovative ways are finding the most success.

In short, the abundance of content and viewing options makes it clear that this robust and competitive environment is benefitting both creators and fans. If we preserve this vital framework, the modern marketplace will continue to grow at its rapid pace.

Pictured Above: Director/Executive Producer Ava DuVernay (center) on the set of SELMA, from Paramount Pictures, Pathé, and Harpo Films.  © 2014 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.