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European Filmmakers Rally to Protect Copyright Law

PARIS — European filmmakers including Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist”), Wim Wenders (“Every Thing Will Be Fine”), Paolo Sorrentino (“La Grande Bellezza”), Ken Loach (“Jimmy’s Hall”) and Abderrahmane Sissako (“Timbuktu,” pictured above) have rallied to protect copyright laws, which the European Commission is now considering replacing with a Digital Single Market (DSM) measure.

During the Rome Rendez-Vous with New French Cinema, about 20 directors got together to protest the European Commission’s proposal to swap existing copyright laws with the so-called Digital Single Market, a measure allowing for audiovisual and film works to circulate freely across Europe via pan-European licenses.

The filmmakers argue that the E.U.’s proposal would scrap the notion of territorial exclusivity, strip right-holders and solely benefit multiterritory platforms, like Netflix and Google. Abolishing existing copyright laws would also threaten the entire financing system that has allowed film industries and culture across Europe to flourish.

“Our films are a form of hope, and they humbly but surely contribute to the construction of a European identity. At a time when a number of our countries have to face new obscurantist trends that reek of hate, a glimmer of hope can come from cinema,” stated the document.

In an open letter addressed to Europe’s public authorities, national film orgs and EFAD (the European Film Directors Agency), the industryites pointed out several ways to improve the circulation of works in theaters, on digital services and on TV in Europe.

The letter called for the protection of arthouse theaters and the need to fund these theaters’ switch to digital. It also underscored the pressing need to put “global Internet giants” (like Netflix) on an equal footing with local players in terms of fiscal obligations and investment/programming quotas. Lastly, it highlighted the important role of pubcasters in financing a diversity of European movies and possibly launch a pan-European digital platform dedicated to arthouse films.

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