Rights collection society prepping EGEDA Digital

MADRID — Spain’s movie production industry is preparing to fight the good fight against rampant P2P downloading by offering its own alternative, a VOD service for Spanish films.

To do so, EGEDA, Spanish main film and TV producers rights collection society, is prepping EGEDA Digital. The department will digitalize EGEDA members’ productions, offering some 2,000 titles of Spanish feature films, docs and shorts. In the future it will add local TV dramas to the lineup.

The VOD operation bows this fall, initially with 300 titles. Home users will be able to access catalog and recent titles for $2-$4. EGEDA Digital thinks DTT channels, local TV, thematic channels, publishers and international exhibitors and distributors will also use the service to access content.

“The service will eliminate film prints, saving in distribution costs,” says Fernando Lopez, EGEDA’s director of corporate development.

EGEDA Digital isn’t the first initiative in Spain to sell Spanish-language titles over the Internet. In 2003, another Spanish rights collector, SGAE, launched La Central Digital with 60,000 music titles and more than 2,000 feature films from 20 countries. Apart from classics from Chaplin, Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Buster Keaton, its catalog includes acclaimed Latin American helmers.

Central Digital’s main clients are Internet TV VOD services, including Telefonica’s ADSL TV service Imagenio and France Telecom and Deutsch Telecom’s webs Wanadoo and Ya.com, respectively. SGAE exec Sydney Borjas said La Central has counted around 30,000 downloads of film and TV programs this year.

La Central guarantees product suppliers a minimum 30% of gross revenues from viewership of their titles.

In a country where it’s estimated piracy has stolen 30%-60% of the total DVD market revs, the launch of legal, secure digital supermarkets is a boon for the local content industry. But it presents challenges.

“The forms of consumer exploitation now opening up are positive. But we have to find ways to convert them into a significant financing element for product,” says producer Antonio Saura.

“Internet downloads will provide the main connection between the film world and homes, even more than TV. Radical changes are coming in consumer leisure habits and Spanish law must regulate or liberalize release windows,” says Pedro Perez, prexy of producers lobby Fapae. That regulation, if it happens, is likely to prove controversial.

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