Is cinema the antidote to the EU democratic deficit?

Intellectual Property issues have cropped up in this week's European Parliament plenary session.  As well as passing the Directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works on Thursday, detailed by the IPKat here and here, the European Parliament adopted French Christian-Democrat Jean-Marie Cavada's report 'Online distribution of audiovisual works in the EU' on Tuesday. The aim is to bring European cinema to a wider audience by making the distribution of films and other audiovisual materials online more efficient by developing subtitling, easing cross-border licensing and establishing and introducing innovative payment methods, especially for small and medium-sized companies. In a nutshell it is hoped that the EU Parliament can create conditions to facilitate cross-border licensing and simplify the procedure for copyright collecting, while hopefully side-stepping a conflict between digital market development and copyright safeguards. But don't let that brief summary fool you - the report covers a lot of ground (and is a bit wordy), with a strengthening of the legal framework for the audiovisual sector in Europe being considered in light of fundamental principles to specific actions. After having regard to a lot of articles, conventions, directives, decisions, recommendations, communications, reports and rules and whereas statements, the Parliament acknowledges, among many many other things:

Legal content, accessibility and collective rights management
'1. ...the fragmentation of the online market, which is characterised by, for example, technological barriers, the complexity of licensing procedures, differences in methods of payment, the lack of interoperability for crucial elements such as eSignature, and variations in the rates of certain taxes applicable to goods and services, including VAT; believes, therefore, that there is currently a need for a transparent, flexible and harmonised approach at European level in order to advance towards the digital single market; emphasises that any proposed measure should seek to reduce the administrative burdens and transaction costs associated with the licensing of content;...

5.  Stresses that digital services, such as video streaming, should be made available to all EU citizens irrespective of the Member State in which they are located; calls on the Commission to request that European digital companies remove geographical controls (e.g. IP address blocking) across the Union and allow the purchase of digital services from outside the consumer's Member State of origin [will that apply to the BBC iPlayer, so that this Kat's good friend in Trier can catch up on the latest series of The Thick of It?]; asks the Commission to draft an analysis of the application of the Cable and Satellite Directive 93/83/ECC;...

10.  Stresses that online use can represent a real opportunity for better dissemination and distribution of European works, particularly audiovisual works, in conditions whereby the legal supply of such works can develop in an environment of healthy competition which effectively tackles the illegal supply of protected works [woah there tiger, that's a little over-simplified and optimistic];...

16.  Recalls that, for the creation of a single internal digital market in Europe, it is essential to establish pan-European regulations on the collective management of authors' rights and related intellectual property rights so as to put a stop to the continuing various amendments to legislation in the Member States that make cross-border rights management increasingly difficult;...

18.  Observes that the development of cross-border services is entirely possible, provided that business platforms are prepared to acquire, by contractual means, the rights to exploit one or more territories, since it must be remembered that territorial systems are natural markets in the audiovisual sector;

19.  Stresses the need to create legal certainty as to which legal system applies for the clearance of rights in the event of cross-border distribution, by proposing that the applicable law should be that of the country where an enterprise carries out its main business and generates its main revenue;...

28.  Calls on the Commission to present a legislative initiative for the collective management of copyright, aimed at ensuring better accountability, transparency and governance on the part of collective rights management societies, along with efficient dispute resolution mechanisms, and at clarifying and simplifying licensing systems in the music sector; stresses, in this regard, the need to operate a clear distinction between licensing practices for different types of content, notably between audiovisual/cinematographic and musical works; recalls that the licensing of audiovisual works is conducted on the basis of individual contractual agreements together with, in some cases, the collective management of remuneration claims;...

35.  Believes that restrictions on advertising for linear children's ranges, on news and information programmes, are reasonable despite the increasingly obsolete distinction between linear and non-linear selections; suggests, however, that consideration be given to new forms of cross-programme and cross-platform clearing systems, with the aid of which interest could be awoken in high-quality content, which would also increase the linear programme quality and the online variety without burdening the revenue of private broadcasters;

36.  Stresses that the option of territorial production and distribution schemes should continue to apply to the digital environment, since this form of organisation of the audiovisual market appears to serve as the basis for financing European audiovisual and cinematographic works;

37.  Calls on the Commission to present an analysis of whether the principle of mutual recognition could be applied to digital goods in the same manner as to physical goods.'
Jean-Marie Cavada
'51.  Points out that the European copyright acquis communautaire does not per se preclude voluntary multi-territorial or pan-European licensing mechanisms, but that cultural and language differences between Member States, along with variations in national rules, including those unrelated to intellectual property, necessitate a flexible and complementary approach at European level in order to advance towards the digital single market [which this Kat interprets as 'make provision for a multi-territorial license'];...

54.  Believes that there is a need for up-to-date information on licensing conditions, licence-holders and repertoires and for comprehensive studies at European level in order to facilitate transparency, identify where problems arise and find clear, efficient and appropriate mechanisms for solving them
[such as a multi-territorial licensing mechanism?];...'
The report also considers issues of unauthorised use, remuneration, VAT and protection (not in the copyright sense) and promotion of audiovisual works and education. The press release can be read here and the full report can be accessed via the link at the beginning of the post. No doubt this Kat may have missed important parts of the report, so if IPKat readers find anything juicy please do share.

Admittedly the title of this post is something of an over-exaggeration, but there is a modicum of force to it. By being able to share in the past and present cinematic culture, audio and visuals displayed in the movie making of EU citizens, perhaps we'll start feeling a little more a part of the European community.

Cats in Film here
A Preview of Series 3 of The Thick of It provided by the BBC on YouTube here.
Is cinema the antidote to the EU democratic deficit? Is cinema the antidote to the EU democratic deficit? Reviewed by Kate Manning on Friday, September 14, 2012 Rating: 5

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