New Media Rights Hosts Discussion Panel at the 21st Annual MLRC Media & Entertainment Conference

Executive Director Art Neil and Assistant Director Erika Lee recently spoke at the 21st Annual Media and Entertainment Law Conference at Southwestern Law School. Co-hosted by the Media Law Resource Center (MLRC), the conference brought together renowned experts to discuss current issues in the entertainment and media law fields.

Neill and Lee moderated a breakout discussion panel about the public domain.  As more and more high-profile works and characters enter the public domain each year, what can and can’t be done with this intellectual property? How do you distinguish between versions of a character? What happens when a character is also a trademark? How important are public domain works for training artificial intelligence? Do works created by artificial intelligence simply enter the public domain upon creation?  We addressed many of these questions throughout our breakout session.

The discussion started with a breakdown of some of the main public domain rules, and how New Media Rights tends to see public domain issues in practice. We opened up the discussion to hear from others in the room about how they encounter public domain issues, and there were some great questions and reflections from the audience about their own experiences, in addition to discussions about how public domain status is determined across the world, and how different copyright lifespans affects global distribution.

The discussion also touched on generative artificial intelligence and how public domain works are used in the training of AI technology, as well as the copyright status of works generated using artificial intelligence. Currently, the outputs generated from artificial intelligence programs are not protected by copyright law in the US.

The session was well attended, and there was a lot of interest in how to determine whether a work is in the public domain in order to clear it for production.

We were also thrilled that most of our New Media Rights clinic students (pictured above) were able to join us at the conference!

Thank you to Jeff Hermes, MLRC and Southwestern Law School for inviting us to host this discussion session!


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