Magazine article Screen International

Brussels Copyright Plans Meet Resistance

Magazine article Screen International

Brussels Copyright Plans Meet Resistance

Article excerpt

Resistance is growing within the European film industry to the European Commission's plans for copyright reform as part of its Digital Single Market (DSM).

Germany's exhibitors association HDF and the German Producers Alliance issued communiqués this week criticising Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger's proposals to abolish the principle of territoriality in copyright.

HDF said that it "stood united" behind Culture Minister Monika Grütters' rejection of the EU plans for the DSM, which it described as "a massive attack on the currently existing windows and business models."

And Alexander Thies, board chairman of the German Producers Alliance, said: "If it is no longer possible to implement tailor-made distribution strategies for certain countries because everyone can have access to this content from all over, then the refinancing of our productions will be considerably complicated and may even be prevented."

Meanwhile, in the UK, six executives of the leading film industry trade associations - IFTA, PACT, FDA, CEA, BVA and COBA - joined forces to issue an open letter - "EU threat to films" - published in The Daily Telegraph, highlighting their concerns about the British Government supporting "in principle" the European Commission's proposals.

"The Government should work with the industry on a market-based solution to expand cross-border content, but maintain incentives for new projects," they concluded.

Diverse marketplace

Speaking to Screen during a visit to Berlin, the Motion Picture Association's Stan McCoy, who was also a signatory of the open letter to The Daily Telegraph, declared: "Speaking for the MPA and its members, we like living in a diverse marketplace where we have the contractual freedom to make deals with small players, big players, national or multi-national players as the demands of the market and the consumer dictate."

McCoy, who succeeded Chris Marcich as the MPA's President & managing Director Europe Middle East & Africa this January, pointed out that the unintended consequences of the Commission's market interventon "are very worrisome because there are potential impacts for film financing, and for the viability of co-production agreements that are currently essential for the European film market."

"The existing framework already permits multi-territory offers such as Netflix where you will already find many programmes that are available in many countries. If there is sufficient demand from the consumer, the market will react," added Christiane Stuetzle, head of the German film law practice at Morrison Foerster in Berlin.

"The legal framework already allows the free market to react to what the consumer wants, so why change it?," she noted.

Stuetzle also pointed to the importance of the aspect of cultural diversity "because, particularly in the television sector, producers are required to make a tailor-made product for consumers in a specific territory. If you were forced to offer it to 28 countries in the same form, then there is nothing left of cultural diversity."

She argued that the key to this objective is "preserving the freedom to serve Europe's diverse markets in the way that best meets the needs of individual markets and individual productions, and as a consequence, consumers."

Consultation

"The Commission keeps emphasising the number of consumer responses to its consultation [on the review of EU copyright rules], but if you calculate the percentage of actual European consumers in those responses, it is infinitesimally small," McCoy added. …

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