European Directors Push Politicians to Defend Copyright Laws

Joe Pugliese

Thousands of industry professionals, including directors Michel Hazanavicius, Mike Leigh and Wim Wenders sign a petition defending author's rights.

COLOGNE, Germany – Some of Europe's most acclaimed directors, including Oscar winners Michel Hazanavicius and Costa-Gavras; Brit veterans Mike Leigh and Ken Loach and German auteurs Wim Wenders and Volker Schlondorff have signed a petition calling for the European Union to safeguard EU copyright laws.

The filmmakers were among several thousand members of the European film industry who signed an online Creators' Petition ahead of a meeting Wednesday of the EU's executive, the European Commission, which will look at proposals to loosen copyright legislation.

At issue are proposals by Neelie Kroes, vp of the European Commission, who has suggested a wholesale reform of European copyright law. Kroes wants the EU to rewrite the Copyright Directive, Europe's main copyright instrument, which the EU adopted back in 2001. She argues that the old law restricts the legal distribution of artistic works across European borders and is actual hurting the creative industry.

But Europe's filmmakers are having none of it.

“The fight against copyright, and against the right of authors to live from their art and receive fair compensation, forms the focus of the entire coalition (for EU copyright reform),” reads the online petition, which blames major Internet companies for lobbying European politicians to loosen up copyright production.

Some 7,500 European industry professionals have signed the petition so far, including the Belgium's Dardenne brothers, Hungarian director Bela Tarr and French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier.

It follows a similar protests by groups representing European publishers, writers and collective management organizations, all of which urge the European Commission to back stronger copyright laws and resist calls for more limitations and exceptions to copyright.