Intellectual Property Concerns for Television Syndication Over the Internet

TV Over the Internet: Implications for Infrastructure, Content, Policy and Strategy, 2003

14 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2008

See all articles by Kenneth R. Carter

Kenneth R. Carter

Columbia Institute for Tele-Information; CloudFlare; Google, Inc.; WIK - Consult GMBH; Federal Communications Commissio


This paper describes the ways in which the Internet impacts delivery and consumption of video content. The distribution of television in the US involves a critical intellectual property privilege - the exclusive right to show a program to an audience in a specified geographic region. The old system of exclusive rights granted by contract will be quickly displaced by the currently evolving system. Television distribution in the US is based largely on a single, immutable law of nature - radio waves can only be transmitted a finite distance before fading out. This inherent restriction has led to the regional nature of television markets. The Internet, however, does not have the built-in restriction of having to conform to a pattern of geographic boundaries. The Internet's architecture enables it to be less distance-sensitive to traffic than existing means of television delivery such as broadcast or cable. This paper addresses the problems of the emerging system and focuses on the status of intellectual property rights as video delivery undergoes the transition to an Internet based medium. It examines how television distributors fail to take advantage of the new Internet opportunities. If these intellectual property concerns are overlooked, syndication as it presently exists will inhibit the evolution of Internet TV.

Keywords: Television, Syndication, Intellectual Property, Internet

Suggested Citation

Carter, Kenneth R., Intellectual Property Concerns for Television Syndication Over the Internet. TV Over the Internet: Implications for Infrastructure, Content, Policy and Strategy, 2003, Available at SSRN:

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