The European Film Agencies Directors’ Association (EFADs) welcomes the publication of the Digital Single Market Strategy, an action plan from the European Commission to seize opportunities and deal with the challenges of the digital age.
«Like the European Commission, the EFADs believe that the digital era offers huge opportunities for film which the market is already seizing to the benefit of audiences across the whole of Europe. The EFADs are strongly committed to increasing access for audiences to the widest possible range of films and fully support the objective to improve the online distribution and access of EU works, both within the EU and beyond, but this should not come at the expense of the sustainability of the film industry. The industry remains concerned that any plans to prevent geoblocking will undermine territorial licensing with damaging consequences for the industry, for audiences and cultural diversity», says Peter Dinges, President of the Association.
Many of the messages from the representatives of the audiovisual and cinema sector as well as Member States seem to have been heard. The EFADs are pleased to see that, on the whole, the Commission takes a more moderate and balanced approach on copyright reform, recognising the need to ensure that the financing of films, authors’ rights and cultural diversity are not undermined.
The EFADs also welcome the emphasis on enforcement issues. It is necessary to take more ambitious actions at EU level to fight illegal content on the internet. The EFADs strongly support follow the money initiatives as well as plans to require from technical intermediaries greater responsibility and due diligence.
Regarding the proposed revision of the Audiovisual and Media Services Directive, the EFADs want to see measures that will ensure all operators are treated equally in terms of financing and promotion of European works and that there is proper promotion of European works.
We also welcome the announcement of an assessment of the role and responsibilities of online platforms. The EFADs would like to address how these platforms contribute to the creation, access and promotion of European works.
However, the EFADs remain concerned about potential implications of the Commission’s plans. While the EFADs support market-led initiatives designed to enable portability of rights, any prevention of geo-blocking would undermine territorial licensing and have significant negative impacts on:
– theatrical and online distribution of films : distributors will not invest in promotion and marketing activities in a country for films that are easily available online in another one;
– financing of films: presales will decrease as exclusive exploitation in a territory will not be guaranteed anymore;
– cultural diversity: independent films from diverse European sources and languages that require more investments for distribution and promotion will become less visible and less promoted in VoD platforms.
In this respect, the EFADs are reassured to see the Commission recognising that “The financing of the audiovisual sector widely relies on a system based on territorial exclusivity, which as such cannot be considered as unjustified geo-blocking”.
The EFADs will continue to play an active role in the dialogue with the European institutions and all interested partners in the sector.