European Film Agencies Attack EU Copyright Plans

Films like Oscar-winner 'Amour' used European territoriality to secure financing.

Proposals to create a single digital market in Europe could mean the end of national copyright laws.

A group representing European film funds and other film subsidy groups has criticized plans by the European Commission to change European copyright laws.

The European Film Agency Directors (EFAD) rejected any move to eliminate so-called territoriality in European copyright law — the idea that films or other creative works can be licensed separately in different European countries. Copyright territoriality is the basis of independent film financing in Europe as producers presell projects to national distributors, giving them exclusive exploitation rights in their respective countries.

Part of legislation proposed by the commission to create a single digital market in Europe could see territoriality eliminated, making it impossible to license films on a country-by-country basis.

"The territoriality principle, on which the whole ecosystem of audiovisual and cinematographic financing is based, must be preserved," said the EFAD in a resolution sent to the commission warning that any "big bang approach" to changing copyright law would put the European media and entertainment sector at risk.

The EFAD said it would be open to working with the commission, the executive branch of the European Union, on improving cross-boarder access to European works and on efforts to crack down on piracy. 

The European Commission will submit its proposal for a single digital market in May. The commission has argued eliminating copyright territoriality will increase revenue for content creators by allowing producers to more easily sell their works across the European Union. Critics claim having a single pan-European copyright system would mean only big international companies, such as the U.S. studios, would be able to compete.

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