×

Film, TV Industry Sounds Red Alert Over New E.U. Copyright Proposals

Trade body FIAPF warns measures will lead to ‘reduced investment’ and reduced consumer choice

Europe and Hollywood industries are expressing their alarm at a proposed overhaul of European copyright law that they fear will further erode the territorial licensing system their businesses count on for revenue.

The measures were unveiled by European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker in a speech Wednesday. The industry will likely have little quarrel with some of the changes, such as a proposal to force YouTube to adopt technology to automatically detect copyrighted works.

Of huge concern, however, is a proposed extension to digital platforms of existing copyrights which already facilitate cross-border transmission of TV programming for foreign cable and satellite operators.

Currently, cable operators in E.U. countries are allowed to re-transmit programming from other nations’ broadcasters whose satellite transmission footprint falls over their territory. Cable operators in Belgium, for example, are able to capture BBC signals and can re-transmit BBC programming as long as they clear rights with a collecting society and remunerate the BBC.

The European Commission argues that 49% of E.U. internet users access music or audiovisual content online. However, “E.U. rules facilitating the clearance of rights for radio and TV programs by satellite transmissions and cable re-transmissions do not extend to digital and online transmissions or retransmissions,” the commission said in a statement Wednesday.

“It is therefore particularly difficult for broadcasters to make their content available on the Internet for users based in other E.U. Member States,” it added.

As part of the E.U.’s unified digital market drive, changes to E.U. copyright rules would extend the system of rights clearance for traditional satellite and cable to the online world, to broadcasters’ live-streaming and catch-up digital services, with rights being cleared centrally by collecting societies. Broadcasters would only be required to clear rights to programs in the TV operators’ country of origin.

“The move will facilitate the ability of broadcasters to offer these online services outside their countries of origin,” said Guy Bisson at Ampere Analysis.

The regulation is no different from that in place for linear channels. But when it is added to other recent developments, such as Paramount’s capitulation to pressure from European anti-trust authorities, the danger is that territory-by-territory licensing, the backbone of Europe’s film and TV industries, will suffer “a death by one thousand cuts,” Bisson added.

The International Federation of Film Producers Assn. (FIAPF), whose members include the MPAA, went further.

Benoit Ginisty, FIAPF chief representative, said in a statement Wednesday: “With the regulation proposing to extend the principle of country-of-origin for licensing ancillary rights to broadcasters as announced today, the European Commission proposes a change which will have harmful effects for employment and economic growth in the film and TV sector in Europe.”

The statement added: “The legislative proposal will reduce private investment in film and TV production in Europe and will lead to more difficulties in distributing films and TV programs outside national borders. The result will be reduced choice of content online for European audiences.”

According to the Commission’s proposals outlined Wednesday, producers are able to opt out of allowing their film and TV content to be readily available on catch-up services in the same language all over Europe. Even if the opt-out is waived and the online content is made available, the fact that it cannot be dubbed or subtitled by foreign online operators COULD serve as some kind of barrier for its consumption.

That said, what concerns the industry, however, are practical considerations. One case in point would be that of a producer, negotiating in a weak position the sale of his rights with his home territory broadcaster in order to finance his film, meeting demands by that broadcaster that online rights to his film be available for online replay on online services in the E.U. outside the home territory of the broadcaster.

That availability could see online platforms programming the film before its potential theatrical release abroad in the E.U.

More Digital

  • Amazon Music

    Amazon Music Tops 55 Million Users, Still Playing Catch-Up to Spotify and Apple

    Amazon is famously reluctant to release specific numbers about its users, so it’s notable that the e-retailing giant announced that it has surpassed 55 million customers worldwide for Amazon Music. The company didn’t reveal how many of those users are on its various pricing tiers, but said subscriptions to Amazon Music Unlimited grew by more [...]

  • The Crown Season 3 Oliva Colman

    Record Intl. Growth Sees Netflix Beat Q4 Earnings Forecast

    Fast growth in international markets, contrasting with only sluggish subscriber gains in North America, was a major factor behind streaming giant Netflix’s better than forecast growth in the last quarter of 2019. The company is set on keeping up that international momentum. Globally Netflix added 8.76 million new customers in the three months to December [...]

  • TikTok - LA lobby

    TikTok Opens New L.A. Office in Culver City

    TikTok, in a signal of the short-form video app’s growing clout and entertainment ambitions, announced the company’s Los Angeles operations have moved into a new 120,000-square-foot office in Culver City, Calif. TikTok’s new office space occupies five floors at the C3 campus at 5800 Bristol Parkway in Culver City. According to the company, the space [...]

  • SiriusXM president and CCO Scott Greenstein

    SiriusXM's Scott Greenstein Named Music Visionary of the Year by UJA-Federation

    SiriusXM president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein will be honored by the UJA-Federation of New York as its Music Visionary of the Year on June 4 in New York City. The award recognizes exceptional professional accomplishments and commitment to philanthropy. Previous recipients have included Sony Music Group CEO Rob Stringer, Republic Records co-founders Avery [...]

  • Anjelah Johnson'The Curse of La Llorona'

    HA Comedy Festival Sets Lineup, HBO Max Comedy Special

    The newly launched HA comedy festival backed by WarnerMedia and New Cadence Productions has set its dates, talent lineup and plans for a special to air on HBO Max. The festival, to be held Feb. 21-23 in San Antonio, Texas, is designed as a showcase for Latinx comedians. It’s part of a first-look development pact [...]

  • Marvel-Strike-Force-FoxNext

    Disney Sells FoxNext Games Unit to Scopely

    Disney has sold off FoxNext Games, the studio it obtained through the purchase of 20th Century Fox, to mobile-games developer Scopely. Terms of the pact were not disclosed. Under the terms of the pact, Scopely is acquiring FoxNext Games Los Angeles, the game studio behind hit game “Marvel Strike Force,” and San Jose-based Cold Iron [...]

  • Andy Gaudin - VideoAmp

    Ad-Tech Platform VideoAmp Hires Andrew Gaudin as Chief Legal and Privacy Officer

    VideoAmp, which operates a platform for optimizing cross-platform video advertising, hired tech-industry veteran Andrew Gaudin as chief legal and privacy officer. Gaudin will oversee the company’s global legal and privacy affairs and is tasked with leading privacy compliance initiatives. He brings more than 30 years of experience to the role, having served in legal roles [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content