Faster Than the Speed of Law

In 1909, the Charles Dickens book Oliver Twist was first adapted to the silver screen as a silent film.  The film was distributed in 35 mm format, and it was most likely shown via Edison movie projectors in nickelodeons (movie theaters) around the country. 

The latest film version of Oliver Twist, released in 2005, had a few more distribution channels.  It premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, followed by a general release in theaters.  In 2006, it was released on DVD.  The DVD is available to rent from Netflix, Blockbuster, and other vendors.  The film has been broadcast on subscription-based television.  It can be viewed via the Internet on Amazon.com’s on-demand service.  Excerpts can be seen on YouTube.  The soundtrack is available on CD, as an MP3 download, or via streaming on services like Pandora.

Oh, and the original Oliver Twist novel is available as an audiobook; as an e-book in formats for the iPad, Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers; and also for free viewing on the web at various sites.

Do you think Charles Dickens’ attorneys thought of all of these possibilities when negotiating his book publishing contract?

In a recent article published in The Philadelphia Lawyer, my colleague Megan Kearney discusses how licensing law has often struggled to keep pace with ever-changing technologies.  More details and Megan’s full article are available here.

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