The Parliament vows to protect the European production ecosystem
by Thierry Leclercq
- MEPs have confirmed their wish to limit the scope of the country-of-origin principle to news and information programmes broadcast online
For the last few weeks, the draft regulation on the system of authors’ rights applicable to programmes broadcast online by radio and television channels (the so-called SatCab regulation) has given rise to myriad position statements and an intense flurry of press releases. Furthermore, on Monday, the film institutes brought together under the EFADs umbrella called on MEPs not to call into question the principle of the territoriality of rights, being of the opinion that "the country-of-origin principle will complicate the funding of films, series and documentaries, and particularly European co-productions" (read the open letter).
Having assembled in a plenary session in Strasbourg on 12 December, the European Parliament finally decided to follow the line adopted by its Legal Affairs Committee on 21 November (see the news) and limit the permission offered to broadcasters to circulate their programmes online in other EU member states to news and general information programmes only.
This was a missed opportunity, in the eyes of the project’s rapporteur for the Parliament, German MEP Tiemo Wölken, who had been hoping for a rejection of this negotiating mandate with the other European institutions. His point of view, as he explained to his colleagues, was to offer European citizens access to more content and to give authors and creators the chance to receive greater remuneration. Meanwhile, European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, who sees his initial proposal reduced to its bare bones, mentioned "the feeling of being stuck in the 20th century" owing to a position that is "disappointing for citizens, creators and cultural diversity".
Now we must wait for the European ministers to agree on the "overall approach" to be adopted by the Council during the trialogue discussions. Here, too, opinions are divided among those countries that advocate the broadest possible application of the country-of-origin principle, those that wish to limit its scope, and those that want to protect the funding model based on the territoriality of rights at all costs. The Estonian presidency is suggesting a compromise that would limit transnational online broadcasting to those works produced and funded exclusively by the broadcaster, or commissioned and owned exclusively by it, and which would exclude co-productions (encompassing both films and TV series). Either way, the country-of-origin principle will not be able to run counter to any agreements on exhibition rights signed by co-producers. The matter still has to be discussed on 15 December by the ambassadors in Coreper.
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