Today I was going to publish a blog about the introductory section of our panel –authors in the audiovisual value chain. It seems however that Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, beat me to it. In her speech at the Forum d’Avignon and blog post, Mrs Kroes doubled very much what I would say about the audiovisual authors that our members represent. That they should be at the centre of copyright and beyond that at the centre of Europe’s policy on culture and growth. That copyright should be the tool that rewards them for their efforts.
If you have been following the work of SAA you will know that we are currently working hard on our proposal for authors to be remunerated based on each online access (whether by download or stream, subscription or a la carte) of their works. Europe’s movie buffs as well as the casual film fan would be confident that for every film they watch the author is being remunerated. The beauty of digital goes further as Mrs Kroes points out. It has extraordinary potential for transparency and tracking of uses of works, making remuneration distribution ever more accurate and efficient.
Mrs Kroes suggested that some stakeholders were afraid of the arrival of Netflix. I can assure her that directors and screenwriters want their films to reach new, wider audiences and that any services that do that while remunerating their creators would be welcomed with open arms. The current financing structures for EU films mean that producers get the money from wherever they can and if taking the film from a project to a reality means handing over certain territorial rights then so be it. That could evolve, though, if new sources of financing develop in the future with the arrival of new online services. The current system hasn’t stopped success stories, as Aviva Silver mentioned at the recent ACT conference in Brussels, “The Lives of Others” directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck , despite its 52 sources of funding (including MEDIA), won the best foreign language film Oscar.
Finally, Mrs Kroes was 100% right for VAT. Her example for books has its equivalent in the audiovisual world. Why can films at the cinema and on TV be at one VAT rate, while DVD and VOD are at another? So, with Commissioner Kroes having taken the words out of my mouth, look out for my post on the first part of our panel in the coming days. Soon we’ll be announcing some more names for our conference. Registrations are coming in pretty quickly so make sure you sign up here to get a place.