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Cultural exception: we have won, now let us value our rights


- Copyright is what enables Internet giants to successfully do business. Let us inform those who gain from this that without our “product” they are empty boxes.

Cultural exception: we have won, now let us value our rights

France saves cultural exception and reaffirms itself as the leading nation in terms of audiovisual politics. This could be the fastest and easiest interpretation, but there is more to it.

For the first time, the battle, which started as almost entirely French, has extended to the rest of Europe. Associations of authors, producers, distributors and collecting societies among others have created a European network which will be difficult to dismount. The power of moments of crisis. International relationships have been created and consolidated, made up of personal ties too. To come face to face with the people behind the brands we know, to share the apprehensions ahead of encounters we are not used to, making ourselves known and appreciating from within a “Barnum” circle which risks remaining closed on itself (I think of Daniele Luchetti’s marvellous participation which imposed the Italian perspective and who is now invited everywhere by European friends), it means creating a European mass which will enable us to confront phase two: that of vigilance on the famous red lines, which today are not abandoned to the heart of the whims people on the receiving end, but are firmly embedded in the cultural exception imposed onto Commissioner De Gucht. Audiovisual associations from northern Europe have joined forces – those whose government have aligned themselves for inclusion – and the president of FERA, Sir Alan Parker, whose voice is even more relevant because of his status as an Anglophone maestro spoke on behalf of directors from across Europe. 

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All in all, this network, which up until the beginning of talks was divided and contested by individuals and personalities, now seems much more solid to me. Because we met during the fire of a tough battle, that for now, we have won. But we need to keep going and consider what is in play and what the future may look like.

It seems to me, that perhaps because of communications choices, too much focus has been given to production, when the real reasons for negotiations are distribution networks, starting with online platforms. If Obama indeed wants an inclusion in terms of audiovisual treaties as exchange markets in order to get internet giants to return home, where they would pay taxes and create jobs, if it is true that when it comes to this, the United States are prepared to unleash (real or presumed) wars on Italian and European ham and wine, if for this same reason, our government is ready to sacrifice Italian creativity for the benefit of regional protected products, something needs to be said! This means, for example, that the future development of countries will be put at risk, not just that of the mechanical industry by telecommunication networks and services. This means that these are the subjects Europe should focus on, not just because of identity questions, but in order to rediscover the bases for a virtuous rebirth and growth.

It seems absurd, but all this revolves around a theme which the gurus of communication networks would have you believe are obsolete: copyright. It is the use of this copyright - of pieces of work of the ingenuous - which enable internet giants to have successful businesses. It is from the fruits of our hard labour that they make money today. And hardly any of that money is reinvested in business which creates business.

This is the point from which we need to go – as authors and producers.

Let us re-appropriate our rights one by one, and value them. Let us show those who earn money from our work, that without our product, they are like empty boxes, let us push them to value our work as fruits of their profit making, and let us grow together with them. Let us tell broadcasters that they are still tied to buying rights packages which they are unable to take advantage of, that they are the first ones who are going to have to change or die. 

If all of this happens, European audiovisual industries will stabilise and internationalise, finding the strength and convenience to create distributive networks capable of competing with Google.

If all of this is put onto the negotiating table, then we will be giving ourselves and our work a future, as well as a sense to Europe. The whole of Europe, the part which lives off of culture, and the part which lives off of ham.

Maurizio Sciarra, director, vice-president FERA, coordinator 100autori

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(Translated from Italian)

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