Posts Tagged Ansip

Copyright love-me-nots, a year of the Juncker Commission

Since the beginning of this new Commission a year ago, copyright has been a contentious issue. President Juncker asked his new team to break down national silos. VP Ansip declared his hate for geoblocking. European creators were surprised, asking themselves how their authors’ rights, the foundation of their professional activities, could be such a problem for Europe. They realised that once again, new politicians had spoken before analysing the situation. Authors therefore took it upon themselves to explain again the role of authors’ rights and copyright in the cultural and creative industries: what it does and what it is not responsible for.

After a number of high level meetings, film forum discussions, letters, statements and contact with the Commissioners’ cabinets, they believed that the danger was over and that the new Commission had understood the main features and challenges of the creative and cultural sectors, in particular the audiovisual industry. They were told that nobody would impose pan-European licences, that the role of territorial licensing of rights in the financing and distribution of audiovisual works was understood, that fair remuneration for creators was a must.

And last week the draft communication on a modern, more European copyright framework to be adopted on 9 December and designing the action of the Commission on copyright for next year was leaked. Creators bitterly discovered another story: the final goal of the Commission is still the full harmonisation of copyright in the EU, in the form of a single copyright code and a single copyright title, like in trademarks and patents, regardless of the particularities of authors’ rights and copyright and its links with culture. The Commission considers that the ultimate goal is the full cross-border access for all types of content across Europe to deliver more choice and more diversity to people. Territoriality of copyright is back as the main obstacle.

Imposing cross-border portability of content and services is a first step according to the leaked draft communication. Before this document leaked, the Commission was still assuring stakeholders that portability is not cross-border access; it will be limited to subscribers who temporarily travel outside their country of residence and services will be free to put in place authentication processes. Rightholders will be keener than ever to hear Commission guarantees that portability will not be used to circumvent territoriality.

The Commission’s second possible legislative initiative towards cross border access could come in spring 2016 with the extension of some of the provisions of the Satellite and Cable Directive to broadcasters’ online transmissions. While we consider that the Directive’s most interesting provisions lie in its cable retransmission chapter which ensures the pan-European delivery of broadcasters’ signals through cable operators with collective management solutions, it seems that the Commission is more interested in the country of origin mechanism of the direct satellite broadcasting to be extended to online transmissions. This would heavily question the territoriality principle again.

Is there anything in this draft communication to balance these attacks against the territoriality of rights? Any vision of how creators will make a living in a full digital and online environment? Apart from some already heard promises on the fight against piracy and follow the money mechanisms as well as discussions around the sharing of value created by new forms of online distribution of protected works, there is little for creators in this action plan.

The issue of authors’ fair remuneration, born of the fact that authors are barely remunerated for the online use of their works, in particular in the audiovisual sector, is only developed very briefly and no clear commitment for action is indicated. To compound it all, on top of targeting territoriality and not promising any concrete action on remuneration, the communication goes on to attack a source of revenue of creators, private copying levies.

We still believe the objective of wider availability of European works is a laudable goal, we cannot repeat it enough, screenwriters and directors are the first to be frustrated when people cannot watch the works they have created. However, this availability needs to be sustainable, this means effective financing of production and active distribution and promotion, fair remuneration for authors based on the exploitation of the works, and compensation when authors are deprived of their exclusive rights by exceptions. All this will not be achieved by getting rid of territoriality, quite the contrary.

CD

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Bertrand Tavernier writes to EC Vice President Ansip

Following a meeting between European Commission Vice President, Andrus Ansip, and SAA patrons Bertrand Tavernier, Roger Michell and Hugh Stoddart (see here) on 22nd June, SAA patron Bertrand Tavernier wrote to the Vice President to follow up on some important issues discussed at the meeting, such as film authors’ rights, territoriality and distribution, film heritage.  You can read his letter below followed by additional comments from German screenwriter and SAA patron, Jochen Greve, and Franco-swiss director, screenwriter and Europa Distribution president of honour, Ursula Meier, Romanian director and screenwriter, Cristian Mungiu and German director and screenwriter, Volker Schlöndorff.

Jochen Greve, German screenwriter and SAA patron

This is not just a cinema issue.  In Germany, each feature-movie or documentary-movie is shot as a co-production and with a big part of television money, and this has been the case for forty years. For a bigger online-market you need licences, and each licence starts with the authors. We have to sell it to the producers or broadcasters or platforms. I am very afraid that a shift to pan-European licences, even if not deliberate, will be a big problem in a bigger online-market for us authors and the remuneration of our works.

Ursula Meier, Franco-swiss director, screenwriter and president of honour of Europa Distribution

I am Swiss, French, live in Brussels and deeply feel as an European film maker. Europe is a mosaic of cultures and this is what makes its great richness and (its) identity. It should never be standardised, but unified. The creation of a Digital Single Market in Europe would have terrible consequences, both on the economic and artistic point of views, for European cinema and its diversity.

It is absolutely essential to protect copyright and all the stakeholders of the value chain who make the existence of a film possible, including thanks to the exclusivity of rights. Local distributors for example make a film exists on their territory, give it visibility, because they believe in it, because they have bought the rights to do it. If they lose their ability to recoup the investment they made when buying the film, it is the end of it.

There are ideas and solutions to be found so that the films of today and yesterday circulate better within Europe, but most importantly and above all, let us not destroy what is functioning.

Cristian Mungiu, Romanian director and screenwriter

It’s a very clear message and I absolutely agree.  Excuse me for not being able to bring any additional contribution –I’m in the middle of the shooting a film.

Still, I don’t think there is much to add – the issue is how to determine these people to listen to the community of filmmakers.

Volker Schlöndorff, German director and screenwriter

Dear All, cher Bertrand,

thanks for your incessant efforts, thank you Bertrand for your elegant letter. All this proves that the education of politicians and bureaucrats on this subject is still a huge task ahead of a Sisyphus task indeed.

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Fair remuneration for creators – turning words into actions

Andrus Ansip: “We need to ensure a fair remuneration of all those involved in the creative sector.”

Günther Oettinger:

OettingerTweetRemuneration

Since copyright was made a priority right at the beginning of the new European Commission mandate, we have heard about the importance of fair remuneration to creators.

As an organisation that has called for fair remuneration for screenwriters and directors since our creation we have been very pleased to hear this.

Then the Digital Single Market Strategy came out.  It calls for the clarification of the rules on the activities of intermediaries in relation to copyright-protected content and in the comments it explicitly says:

Measures to safeguard fair remuneration of creators also need to be considered in order to encourage the future generation of content.”

The Commission staff working document accompanying the Strategy highlights: “content creators are generally concerned about the fairness of remuneration conditions. The fragmentation of national legislation in that area could create difficulties for the providers of multi-territorial services in the internal market as they have to comply with a variety of different legal requirements for the remuneration of authors and performers for online exploitation within the EU. Two studies investigating these issues are currently underway and should become available in the course of 2015.”

The European Commission is finalising the first study on the remuneration of authors and performers from the audiovisual and music sectors to be published by the summer.  While we are eagerly awaiting to see the results, our own experience suggests that the case for screenwriters and directors is already shockingly clear.  As summarised in our white paper on audiovisual authors’ rights and remuneration in Europe (executive summary here), SAA’s members only collect 0.37% of the European audiovisual market for distribution to screenwriters and directors.  The Federation of Screenwriters in Europe found in a survey of its members that the median income of screenwriters was just 22,000€ per year.  From a Digital Single Market point of view, remuneration needs to flow back to authors for any exploitation of their works, irrespective of where in the EU country it happens.  One of the most important problem to be fixed by the Digital Single Market Strategy is to ensure that creators get a fair remuneration for the exploitation of their works. When a Spanish screenwriter’s film is shown in Poland, he should be remunerated accordingly.

Time for encouraging statements is now coming to an end.  The Commission is expected to publish a legislative proposal before the end of the year.  If we want a digital single market that works for consumers, business AND authors then fair remuneration has to be a part of it.

JT

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Digital Single Market – Fair remuneration a must

On 6th May the European Commission will announce its strategy for the Digital Single Market.

There has already been one leak and announcements that the leak is outdated.

Much of the discussion had initially been about the modernisation of copyright having a high-profile position in the paper but as the publication date gets closer it seems that copyright is now just one issue among the many that make up the strategy for the years to come.

The wide-reaching copyright/authors’ rights reform seems to have been scaled back and replaced with more targeted work.  The statements on geoblocking seem to have calmed with Vice-President Ansip claiming to have heard the messages from across the audiovisual sector.  The issue now seems to be with “unjustified” geoblocking (although quite what qualifies as “unjustified” is not yet clear) and supporting portability of paid-for services.

What has been re-assuring to hear is Vice-President Ansip’s recent statements in the European Parliament claiming that fair remuneration is his aim.  If the Commission is going to look at copyright in the coming years then it has to look at the situation of contracts and remuneration of authors.  As SAA outlined in its white paper, the current situation for screenwriters and directors is particularly bad and especially for exploitation of works outside of home markets.

Europe’s creators are the foundations of the creative works that are driving the development of the digital economy.  The Digital Single Market can help European works travel better and the remuneration flow back to Europe’s creators.  That starts with the Commission recognising in its strategy paper that the remuneration of creators is an issue that needs to be dealt with urgently.

JT

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