Posts Tagged Audiovisual
And by out, we mean out there, being watched.
The dust is still settling following the agreement of the negotiation mandate for the free trade agreement between the EU and the US.
We were particularly pleased to see audiovisual services excluded from the mandate. What was disappointing was to see this portrayed as a victory for France and French cinema. While France was clearly the most vocal country in defending its ability to support its local cultural creators, the victory was one for European cinema.
SAA called, along with other European groupings of screenwriters, directors, producers, distributors, broadcasters, cinemas, for audiovisual to be excluded (see here). SAA represents collective management organisations for screenwriters and directors from across Europe – not just French ones. The same applied to the other organisations. Europe’s patchwork of different systems and regulations from country to country has created a sophisticated support mechanism for the creation of audiovisual works, essential to maintain and enhance diversity and circulation. As technology advances, and the internet continues to change the audiovisual landscape, European countries need to be able to adapt their support and regulation systems in a period of rapid evolution.
As we have said before, Europe’s diversity is its strength. We should be looking to implement policies that enable European creators to seize the digital opportunities to get our works and our vision of the world out. Now that the mandate is adopted, let’s focus on doing that.
Last week the European Parliament made a very strong statement. By a large majority they sent a clear message to the Council and the European Commission: “Europe’s cultural exception is not negotiable”.
The line of the Commission is that everything needs to be on the table for the EU-US Free Trade Agreement (TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, for those who love acronyms and twitter hashtags) to maximise its potential. If the Europeans start excluding this and that, then so will the Americans. In short, the Commission is saying:
“Everything needs to be on the table but don’t worry, we won’t actually negotiate everything. The cultural exception definitely won’t be negotiated. Honest.”
One of the analogies that has been used is that of a game of cards and “having the best hand”. Within such an analogy it strikes me that cultural diversity is more like the house that you are ready to gamble. If you don’t want to lose it, then you shouldn’t put it on the table.
Europe’s diversity is one of its key assets. As Harvey Weinstein said while defending the cultural exception in Cannes “Great business is by being different”. But it comes with its own challenges. Our cultural works don’t have automatic access to large markets. The subject matter can even be very specific to a particular country or culture, making it difficult for a film to travel. Subtitling is a minimum for works to cross borders and some countries won’t go for anything less than full dubbing. But their is a clear evolution. The breakthrough of European TV productions across Europe and beyond is proof that the complex support systems we have built are maturing.
If you want to maintain Europe’s ability to create cultural works it can shout about – sign the film-makers’ petition.
The Council votes on the negotiating mandate to be given to the Commission on the 14th June. We need to keep the pressure on.
Janine Lorente, the chair of SAA’s board of directors, spoke at the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee hearing on collective rights management on Monday. She was one of 13 stakeholders in a detailed programme which showed just how many different stakeholders will be affected by the directive when it comes into force. Out of the 13 presentations, only Janine looked at the issue from a non-music point of view.
This directive cannot just be looked at from a simplified creator, CMO, user perspective. It has to be looked at within multiple contexts including the different rightholders and sectors that use collective management and the different national approaches. What the Parliament and the Council have to work out is a way of coming up with a text that has the flexibility for the different sectors and legal traditions while fulfilling the key objective of well-functioning societies providing fair remuneration and guarantees to creators so that they can really benefit from their rights .
Not an easy task, but essential for the Directive to work for everyone.