Star Trek: Discovery and the battle for IP

Written by Katie Moruzzi | November 29, 2021

Intellectual Property

Star Trek fans are left disappointed this November as all four seasons of Star Trek: Discovery have been pulled from Netflix. The streaming giant has lost the rights to the show outside of the US and instead, it is set to appear on less know, Pluto TV.

Fans are confused, and shareholders are likely to be disgruntled, but this is just a glimpse into the precarious world of streaming when the market has become over saturated, increasingly competitive, and expensive for consumers to keep up with.

The nature of streaming allows services to exhibit your favourite films and TV shows from various creators. Behind the scenes, this means that streaming services need to obtain permission from the content owner and usually enter into a license for use the relevant intellectual property rights e.g., copyright.

Licensing of rights is likely to be accompanied by various restrictions, fees and uncertainty. Companies may have to compete for the rights to tv shows and meet expectations in terms of marketing and reach, otherwise stand to lose out to their competitors.

While the loss of Star Trek might not be a big deal for Netflix, with plenty of hit shows and over 200 million subscribers worldwide, the loss of a huge franchise would be likely hit smaller streaming services a lot harder.

To combat this volatility, streaming services are looking to build up their own IP portfolios by creating catalogues of original content and avoid being reliant on the IP of others.

Written by Katie Moruzzi, Solicitor

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