Exclusive Q&A On Technology, Media & Telecommunication with Indrė Barauskienė
The Law of the Republic of Lithuania on Electronic Communications regulates the electronic communications sector in Lithuania. The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) supervises telecommunications and postal sectors.
The main law setting all the principles of media is the Law on Information Provision to the Public (the Media Law). The Radio and Television Commission (RTC), an independent body, which regulates and controls the activities of broadcasters and re-broadcasters of radio and/or television programmes and providers of on-demand audio-visual media services, supervises the implementation of the Media Law. From 2014, the Media Law has introduced a new regulatory body – the Association of Public Information Ethics (the Association) which is a collegial self-regulatory body of producers of public information. The Association is responsible for upholding professional ethics of journalists, examining violations of professional ethics and resolving disputes between journalists and producers or publishers of public information regarding violations of the Code of Ethics. One last regulatory body in the media sector is the Inspector of Journalist Ethics, a state official who supervises the implementation of the provisions of the Media Law.
The technology sector as such is not regulated, except for the general laws on industrial intellectual property (for example, the Law on Patent or the Law on Designs).
Have there been any recent regulatory changes or interesting developments?
The most recent major regulatory change occurred on 1 October 2015 when the Media Law was amended reorganizing the licensing of broadcasting and rebroadcasting activities. The amended law has broadened the definition of a rebroadcaster, which now covers not only the current description of broadcasting (reception and further transmission of television signals) but also includes the activity which by technical or software means enables the public to receive radio and/or television programmes transmitted via electronic communications networks and protected by conditional access systems. The law also started regulating the broadcasting/rebroadcasting of content via the Internet.The amendments of the Media Law also introduced some controversial principles, such as establishment of responsibility for rebroadcasters/TV distributors for the content of the programmes they rebroadcast/distribute.
Finally, the law introduced additional rules in respect of the suspension of reception of a TV signal broadcasted from another EU country to the ones set forth in the AVMS Directive. The law now provides additional competence to the RTC to suspend the reception of a TV channel in the main TV package if the RTC finds that it has disseminated prohibited information (such as war propaganda).
What problems do you foresee relating to wearable tech, 3D printing and other new technologies?
About 70% of all infringement actions in patent litigation in Europe are brought before German courts. How do you determine which jurisdiction patent litigation should be filed in?
The main principle in Lithuania is the place of infringement. If patent rights are infringed in Lithuania and the relevant patent is protected in Lithuania, the case is heard before Lithuanian courts. We have not noticed the tendency that parties would try to avoid this principle and litigate in Lithuania instead of the place of infringement or would avoid litigation in Lithuania when they have a ground for it. This is because Lithuania is an extremely small market. Therefore, if a dispute relates to Lithuanian parties they want to solve disputes at home, as litigation abroad is more costly. On the other hand, international players solve their disputes in other countries and seek recognition in Lithuania.
How is intellectual property enforced in the media industry?
Mainly through collecting societies (the CSs). In Lithuania, the rights to broadcast, rebroadcast and otherwise use the content (such as PVR, catch-up, etc.) are additionally cleared through the CSs; therefore, they are very active while enforcing the rights in media. Currently the CSs are involved in major litigation (over EUR 2,000,000) with the satellite television service provider regarding the licensing of content in cross-border broadcasting of TV programmes via satellite. They are also involved in joint negotiations on applicable tariffs with other payers in the media sector: associations of broadcasters, association of cable rebroadcasters, etc.
What are the main areas of media law your clients require specialist advice and assistance with?
The main area is intellectual property related questions starting with negotiations and drafting of licensing agreements with content providers (producers and broadcasters) and questions related to the CSs and, in particular, the issues related to fees applied by the CSs.
The second area focuses on regulatory requirements related to the dissemination of prohibited information.
What are the latest trends in the battle against piracy?
The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania currently finances case studies related to piracy in rebroadcasting activities, targeting signal piracy and Internet streaming. The aim of the studies is to identify the flaws in current copyright law and propose changes that could increase protection of intellectual property rights against piracy and give some enforceable power over the Internet.
What considerations need to be taken into account for businesses looking to implement a VPN (i.e. net neutrality, cyber security & regulation)?
It should be first noted that Lithuanian law does not provide specific rules related to a VPN, except for the general principle of net neutrality (however, services such as “zero rating” are available and widely used in Lithuania) and protection of personal data, which must be ensured.
What key trends do you expect to see over the coming year and in an ideal world what would you like to see implemented or changed?
We predict that the main development in Lithuania will be connected with the institutional practice which is related to the new changes to the Media Law. Additional powers are granted to the RTC to supervise the content in the Internet; therefore, the market is waiting what actions the regulatory body will take and how it will ground its competence and jurisdiction.
As regards preferable changes, it should be noted that in Lithuania rebroadcasting has double regulation. Each rebroadcaster is regulated both as an electronic communication service provider by the CRA and as a content provider by the RTC. We see no legal justification of such regulation and would only hope that administrative burden could be softened.
Indrė Barauskienė (Burbulytė) is an associate at law firm TARK GRUNTE SUTKIENE specialising in communications, media and intellectual property law. She is a graduate of Vilnius University, Faculty of Law (Diploma, 2010). She has attended a variety of courses and seminars on communication and media law, regulation of advertising and related matters. Since 2008, Indrė constantly advises clients in matters related to communication and media law. She specialises in cross-border issues, including jurisdiction matters, licensing and IP litigation. Indrė has participated in various transactions, including mergers and acquisitions of communication and media companies, and was responsible for the legal due diligence of target companies.
Indrė can be contacted on +370 5 251 4444; 251 4445 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org