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Det rättsliga skyddet för TV-format

Nilsson, Ida LU (2011) JUR092 20112
Department of Law
Abstract
The television programs of today are in most cases based on an underlying television format. The use of TV formats has in recent years become an increasingly important part of the television industry and today they are subject of a billion dollar trade. As a result of the format market's expansion and the increased competition within the media industry the battle for viewers has intensified. The production companies have been forced to focus on making their next program a sure success, a struggle that has led an increasing number of companies to be inspired by or simply copy someone else's format. However, although formats are subject of such extensive trade their legal framework is very uncertain. The Swedish legal system lacks an... (More)
The television programs of today are in most cases based on an underlying television format. The use of TV formats has in recent years become an increasingly important part of the television industry and today they are subject of a billion dollar trade. As a result of the format market's expansion and the increased competition within the media industry the battle for viewers has intensified. The production companies have been forced to focus on making their next program a sure success, a struggle that has led an increasing number of companies to be inspired by or simply copy someone else's format. However, although formats are subject of such extensive trade their legal framework is very uncertain. The Swedish legal system lacks an explicit statutory protection for television formats and no such regulation exists abroad. In the absence of clear legal protection the industry must rely on so-called “gentlemen’s agreements”; codes of conduct intended to make the companies act as if the TV formats were in fact protected by law. This essay aims to investigate if television formats can be protected under the Swedish legal system. The emphasis is primarily on copyright law but also market regulations are touched upon.

The introductory chapter of the essay builds on the concept of TV formats where it is established that there are no generally accepted definition of the term. Naturally this makes a legal assessment of the TV format more difficult and probably it's a contributing factor behind the lack of consensus which characterizes the international judicial practice in this area. The conceptual confusion may be caused by the great changes the TV formats have gone through. Initially they consisted of an idea for a TV program, today they have taken the form of significant production manuals which in great detail describes the entire production chain. Because of this development, the use of TV formats is now an important component of the television industry. This has in turn led to the emergence of the well developed international market we see today, where the owner of a successful format can increase revenues from his investment by licensing it to TV stations and production companies.

A study of the protection possibilities under the Swedish regulation is complicated by the fact that several laws are applicable, often offering partially overlapping protection. This becomes clear when the issue is analysed in terms of legal protection of the format as a whole as well as for the different elements of the format. It is clear that a number of the individual components in a format are able to obtain protection separately. For example music, set design and titles can be protected under copyright and trademark law. It has also been established, in both Danish and Swedish judicial practice, that a TV format can receive protection under market law. However, whether the format as a whole may be protected under the Intellectual Property legislation, in particular the Copyright Act, is still unclear. Swedish courts are yet to consider the question and in the literature the perceptions differ. Critics argue that a TV format is basically an idea. Since the basic principle of copyright is to protect the concrete design of a work and not it's conceptual content, it is impossible to acknowledge protection for TV formats. Others argue that a television format is much more than an underlying idea. They consider that it is in fact the structured assembly of elements in a format which is the object of protection and therefore formats deserves copyright protection. The issue is discussed both from an idea protection point of view and considering the general requirements of copyright protection after which it is found that neither the wording of the Copyright Act nor the concept “works” are in the way of a legal recognition of television formats. Nor should the principle of protection for ideas foreclose formats from copyright protection. However, it is noted that there are still widely differing opinions regarding the legal recognition of TV formats and it is evident that a clarifying decision of the court is required for this question to have a final solution. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Dagens TV-program bygger i de flesta fall på ett bakomliggande TV-format.
Formaten har under de senaste åren blivit en allt viktigare del av TV-industrin och idag är de föremål för en handel som årligen omsätter miljardbelopp. I takt med att marknaden för format expanderat har ökande konkurrens inom mediebranschen gjort att striden om TV-tittarna hårdnat. TV-bolagen har tvingats fokusera allt mer på att bli den som står bakom nästa tittarsuccé och i den kampen har det blivit vanligare att man låter sig inspireras av eller helt enkelt kopierar någon annans format. Det paradoxala är att trots att formaten är föremål för en intensiv global handel så är rättsläget på området mycket oklart. Den svenska rättsordningen saknar ett uttryckligt... (More)
Dagens TV-program bygger i de flesta fall på ett bakomliggande TV-format.
Formaten har under de senaste åren blivit en allt viktigare del av TV-industrin och idag är de föremål för en handel som årligen omsätter miljardbelopp. I takt med att marknaden för format expanderat har ökande konkurrens inom mediebranschen gjort att striden om TV-tittarna hårdnat. TV-bolagen har tvingats fokusera allt mer på att bli den som står bakom nästa tittarsuccé och i den kampen har det blivit vanligare att man låter sig inspireras av eller helt enkelt kopierar någon annans format. Det paradoxala är att trots att formaten är föremål för en intensiv global handel så är rättsläget på området mycket oklart. Den svenska rättsordningen saknar ett uttryckligt lagstadgat skydd för TV-format och inte heller internationellt finns någon sådan reglering. Istället får branschen förlita sig på s k ”gentlemen's agreements”, en uppförandekod som ska få bolagen att agera som om formaten i praktiken har ett juridiskt skydd. Huvudsyftet med den här framställningen är att utreda vilka skyddsmöjligheter den svenska rättsordningen skulle kunna erbjuda TV-formaten. Tyngdpunkten ligger främst på den upphovsrättsliga lagstiftningen men även den marknadsrättsliga regleringen berörs.

Uppsatsens inledande kapitel tar avstamp i begreppet TV-format där det konstateras att det saknas en allmänt vedertagen definition av begreppet. Detta är givetvis ett problem när formaten ska värderas rättsligt och torde vara en bidragande orsak till den spretiga praxis som finns på området. Begreppsförvirringen kan ha sin grund i att formatens utformning med tiden har genomgått stora förändringar. Från att ursprungligen enbart ha utgjorts av en idé till ett TV-program har de nu antagit formen av betydelsefulla produktionsmanualer som med stor detaljrikedom beskriver hela produktionskedjan. Formaten har i och med den utvecklingen fått en betydande roll inom TV-industrin. Detta har i sin tur lett till uppkomsten av den väl utvecklade internationella marknad vi ser idag, där ägaren av ett framgångsrikt format kan få ytterligare avsättning för sin investering genom licensiering till TV-kanaler och produktionsbolag.

En undersökning av formatens skyddsmöjligheter under den svenska lagstiftningen aktualiserar en rad olika lagar vilka erbjuder ett delvis överlappande skydd. Detta blir tydligt när frågan analyseras utifrån skyddsmöjligheterna för formatet som helhet respektive för formatets olika delelement. Klart är att ett flertal enskilda beståndsdelar i ett format kan erhålla skydd på egen hand, ex vis kan musik, scenografi och titlar skyddas i enlighet med upphovsrätts- respektive varumärkeslagen. Det har även slagits fast i både dansk och svensk rättspraxis att ett TV-format kan åtnjuta marknadsrättsligt skydd. Huruvida formatet som helhet kan skyddas under den immaterialrättsliga, och då särskilt den upphovsrättsliga, lagstiftningen är emellertid oklart. Svenska domstolar har ännu inte prövat frågan och inom doktrinen går uppfattningarna isär. Kritikerna menar att ett TV-format i grunden är en idé. Eftersom en av grundprinciperna inom upphovsrätten att skydd inte kan ges till ett verks idéinnehåll utan endast dess konkreta utformning är det således inte möjligt att tillerkänna formaten skydd. Andra hävdar att TV-formatet är mycket mer än en bakomliggande idé. De menar att det är den strukturerade sammanställningen av element i formatet som utgör skyddsföremålet och att formaten därför förtjänar upphovsrättsligt skydd. Frågan belyses dels ur ett idéskyddsperspektiv, dels utifrån upphovsrättslagens allmänna krav varefter det konstateras att upphovsrättslagens lydelse och verksbegrepp inte lägger hinder i vägen för ett juridiskt erkännande av TV-formaten. Inte heller idéskyddsläran torde utestänga programformaten ifrån den upphovsrättsliga skyddssfären. Det kan emellertid konstateras att det fortfarande råder vitt skilda meningar kring TV-formatens skyddsvärde och klart är att det kommer att krävas ett klargörande ställningstagande i domstol innan frågan kan få en slutlig lösning. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Nilsson, Ida LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
The Legal Protection for TV Formats
course
JUR092 20112
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Immaterialrätt
language
Swedish
id
2202355
date added to LUP
2011-11-03 15:42:45
date last changed
2011-11-03 15:42:45
@misc{2202355,
  abstract     = {The television programs of today are in most cases based on an underlying television format. The use of TV formats has in recent years become an increasingly important part of the television industry and today they are subject of a billion dollar trade. As a result of the format market's expansion and the increased competition within the media industry the battle for viewers has intensified. The production companies have been forced to focus on making their next program a sure success, a struggle that has led an increasing number of companies to be inspired by or simply copy someone else's format. However, although formats are subject of such extensive trade their legal framework is very uncertain. The Swedish legal system lacks an explicit statutory protection for television formats and no such regulation exists abroad. In the absence of clear legal protection the industry must rely on so-called “gentlemen’s agreements”; codes of conduct intended to make the companies act as if the TV formats were in fact protected by law. This essay aims to investigate if television formats can be protected under the Swedish legal system. The emphasis is primarily on copyright law but also market regulations are touched upon.

The introductory chapter of the essay builds on the concept of TV formats where it is established that there are no generally accepted definition of the term. Naturally this makes a legal assessment of the TV format more difficult and probably it's a contributing factor behind the lack of consensus which characterizes the international judicial practice in this area. The conceptual confusion may be caused by the great changes the TV formats have gone through. Initially they consisted of an idea for a TV program, today they have taken the form of significant production manuals which in great detail describes the entire production chain. Because of this development, the use of TV formats is now an important component of the television industry. This has in turn led to the emergence of the well developed international market we see today, where the owner of a successful format can increase revenues from his investment by licensing it to TV stations and production companies.

A study of the protection possibilities under the Swedish regulation is complicated by the fact that several laws are applicable, often offering partially overlapping protection. This becomes clear when the issue is analysed in terms of legal protection of the format as a whole as well as for the different elements of the format. It is clear that a number of the individual components in a format are able to obtain protection separately. For example music, set design and titles can be protected under copyright and trademark law. It has also been established, in both Danish and Swedish judicial practice, that a TV format can receive protection under market law. However, whether the format as a whole may be protected under the Intellectual Property legislation, in particular the Copyright Act, is still unclear. Swedish courts are yet to consider the question and in the literature the perceptions differ. Critics argue that a TV format is basically an idea. Since the basic principle of copyright is to protect the concrete design of a work and not it's conceptual content, it is impossible to acknowledge protection for TV formats. Others argue that a television format is much more than an underlying idea. They consider that it is in fact the structured assembly of elements in a format which is the object of protection and therefore formats deserves copyright protection. The issue is discussed both from an idea protection point of view and considering the general requirements of copyright protection after which it is found that neither the wording of the Copyright Act nor the concept “works” are in the way of a legal recognition of television formats. Nor should the principle of protection for ideas foreclose formats from copyright protection. However, it is noted that there are still widely differing opinions regarding the legal recognition of TV formats and it is evident that a clarifying decision of the court is required for this question to have a final solution.},
  author       = {Nilsson, Ida},
  keyword      = {Immaterialrätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Det rättsliga skyddet för TV-format},
  year         = {2011},
}