Internet providers and movie industry team up for film online

A number of major industry players, including broadcasters, telecom operators and holders of copyrights, signed a Commission-inspired charter for promoting the online distribution of films.

The Charter, signed at the Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera on 23 May 2006, includes recommendations in three key areas, which were formally agreed upon by the CEOs of the endorsing companies and organisations. None of the actions are entirely new; for each one of them, one or more examples are given of existing “commendable practices”. The areas are:

“Working together to improve the availability of film online services on a mutually profitable basis.” This includes in particular commercial agreements between content providers and internet service providers (ISPs), the generation of revenues and the clearance of rights and agreements on release windows of films. The charter also says that “technical measures for the online management of copyright and for protection against unauthorised use should allow, as much as possible, the use of a wide range of networks and devices”.

“Education and awareness – Increasing respect for copyright in order to secure the sustainable availability of content.” This is mainly about “creating a culture of proper respect for creativity and effective protection of copyright”. The charter recommends for online service providers and content providers to co-operate in order to educate consumers about copyrights and create attractive rights-respecting download services. 

“Co-operation to fight piracy.” Content providers and ISPs agree to make “all reasonable efforts in good faith to fight piracy”. ISPs commit to deal “swiftly with infringements to copyright” and to implement “technologies allowing efficient identification of copyrighted content”. ISPs also agree to co-operate with content providers “to develop technologies to protect copyrighted material”. Finally, the two industries agree to set up “adequately-resourced national anti-piracy organisations”. The Commission will promote networking between those organisations.

BEUC, the European Consumers’ Organisation, expressed already in November 2005 in a letter to Commissioner Reding its indignation about being excluded from the preparatory work for the Film online charter. “We […] would like to stress hereby”, BEUC Director Jim Murray wrote at that time, “that we see the exclusion of BEUC and any other group that represents the public interest in this context as being contrary to the principle of multi-stakeholdership based on full and equal participation. With respect, it seems that the procedure followed in this instance is in breach of the Commission’s stated commitment to better consultation and better regulation.”

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