OTT PLATFORM – LEGAL FRAMEWORK
(streaming services – Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, RTS planet, SBB digital television …)
OTT (Over-the-top) platform?
OTT is one of the most globally developed platforms, which is actually the provision of services via the open Internet (electronic communications network), where the service provider provides its users with access to a variety of content, and the only thing users need to access this content is the Internet and usually a fixed monthly subscription.
Nowadays, the Millennium no longer has time to sit in front of the TV and wait for the morning news, and after work to closely monitor regular TV channels, so for these reasons users are given the opportunity to choose when, where and what of the many content they want to watch via the Internet platform. At the same time, the user has access to the content that is currently being broadcast, as well as the content of shows, programs, series, movies and other shows that have previously been broadcast or rebroadcast.
Some of the most popular platforms, which offer media content of this type, are Netflix, Amazon, Youtube and Apple. On the other hand, when it comes to the existence of OTT platforms in Serbia, it is also developing, but not to the same extent as abroad, and some of the most famous are certainly SBB Television, which through D3i and EON platform provides an opportunity to all those who do not have SBB infrastructure, while located in some part of our country, to watch their favorite programs via the Internet, as well as RTS Planet, where viewers can watch the program up to 72 hours backwards.
The most interesting part of this whole story is actually the legal framework of these platforms, that is, what regulations and in what way the existence and operation of these platforms is regulated, and what are the legal obligations and sanctions that could be imposed in case of non-compliance with the statutory provisions.
Namely, according to the provisions of the Law on Electronic Media, Article 4 it is defined that:
“11) audio-visual media service on request (non-linear audio-visual media service) is a service provided by the audio-visual media service provider for the purpose of monitoring the program in the period selected by the user, at his request, based on the program catalog, whose selection and organization is made by the provider “
In accordance with that, we could conclude that this is something closest to the definition of the OTT platform in the Republic of Serbia since the law itself does not recognize the term OTT platform. In this regard, having in mind that media content seems to be available to end users through the electronic communication network, the question arises, what are the regulatory conditions that must be met to obtain a license from REM (Regulatory Body for Electronic Media), for provision of such services by Media Content Providers.
Namely, Article 74 of the Law on Electronic Media stipulates that the Provider, which provides media services exclusively through the global information network (Web casting, live streaming, etc.), may do so without prior approval, i.e. permission, with prior obligation to register in the Register of Media Services at Regulator. On the other hand, Article 75 of the Law on Electronic Media stipulates that the Provider must first contact REM, in order to obtain a license, i.e. approvals for the provision of such services. It follows that the conditions that service providers need to meet via the internet platform are actually reduced to the legal minimum.
In our further legal analysis of the OTT Platform, we emphasize that this type of public disclosure of copyright and related rights, such as films, music, or shows, is explicitly regulated by law, not only in our country, but also abroad. In this regard, it follows that the authors themselves, at the global level, may prohibit or allow the use of their works on the OTT platform, in accordance with the Law on Copyright and Related Rights, which in Article 30 provides that the Author has the exclusive right to prohibit or allow another public disclosure of the work, including making the work available to the public by wire or wireless in a manner that allows the individual to access the work from the place and time he chooses. In addition, Article 29 of the Law on Copyright and Related Rights defines that the Author, i.e. the copyright holder has the exclusive right to allow or prohibit rebroadcasting and cable rebroadcasting of his copyright work.
The consequences of the development of the OTT platform, in the world, and even in our country, have led to the increasing use of copyright and related rights, such as music, movies, series, shows. Additionally, as an indirect consequence, this influenced the development of economic entities, which are not holders of copyright and related rights, but are necessary for the smooth functioning and provision of media services, such as broadcasters, web-casters, cable operators, etc., because in this way they managed to greatly expand the offer of their services, which they offer to their existing customers, and thus attract new ones.
Taking into account all the above, we can indisputably conclude that the development of the OTT platform largely depends on the will of the holders of copyright and related rights, i.e. content suitable for broadcasting, since before using them, it is necessary to obtain rights, necessary permits, as well as licenses from the owners, or holders of copyright and related rights, and thus previously regulate the legal relationship with these right holders, as well as with organizations for the collective exercise of these rights, whose copyrighted works and objects of related rights are provided by the Media Content Provider on its platform.