Venice film festival: European directors lobby MEPs on copyright

French film director Jacques Audiard poses during a photocall for 'The Sisters Brothers' during the 75th annual Venice International Film Festival, in Venice, Italy, 02 September 2018. [EPA-EFE/CLAUDIO ONORATI]

A group of Europe’s best-known film directors taking part in the 75th Venice International Film Festival have come out in support of the upcoming EU copyright bill, to be voted on in the September plenary.

Filmmakers including Sir Alan Parker, Paolo Sorrentino, Margarethe von Trotta, and Mike Leigh put pen to paper on the Venice Declaration on Monday (3 September), supporting the EU’s copyright bill, currently stuck in the European Parliament, in the hope of ensuring better protection for content creators.

The Declaration states:

“We, audiovisual authors, absolutely need this Directive to be adopted on time to ensure freedom of expression and independence of creators as well as authors’ rights. The principle of fair and proportionate remuneration, improved measures on the transparency of the exploitation and contract adjustment mechanism will make a big difference.

“With these provisions, the Directive will improve our position in the industry and pave the way for a much-needed EU right to remuneration for the on-demand exploitation of audiovisual works.”

Dramatic Parliament vote triggers upheaval of divisive copyright bill

A thin majority of MEPs blocked a controversial copyright bill from moving on to the next phase of negotiations in a dramatic vote on Thursday (5 July) that followed weeks of intense lobbying from tech companies, publishers, musicians and internet rights campaigners.

Also on Monday, Mariya Gabriel, the commissioner for digital economy and society, weighed in on the debate in support of the Venice Declaration.

“The Copyright Directive aims to reinforce creators and authors all of the EU,” she wrote on Twitter. “I welcome the Venice Declaration from 165 EU screenwriters and directors calling on the adoption of this crucial measure that will strengthen audiovisual and creative sectors.”

Support for the plans from the film industry comes days after AFP journalist Sammy Ketz published an open letter, making a rallying cry for MEPs to back the bill.

“The European Parliament must vote massively in favour of ‘neighbouring rights’ for the survival of democracy and one of its most remarkable symbols: journalism,” Ketz wrote. The letter was signed by leading journalists from more than 20 EU countries.

Leading journalists join call for EU copyright reform

Leading journalists from more than 20 countries joined a call Tuesday (27 August) for European MPs to approve a controversial media reform aimed at forcing internet giants to pay for news content.

However, the controversial copyright bill has divided stakeholders since its inception.

At its first reading in the European Parliament in July, the reform was blocked from moving onto the next phase of negotiations, after weeks of lobbying.

The two most contentious points of conflict had been articles 11 and 13 of the bill. The latter would require internet platforms to inaugurate filters into their systems so as to detect infringements, while the latter would call upon companies to obtain a publishers’ license permitting them to share snippets of information from content creators.

A leading critic in the crusade against the copyright bill has been Julia Reda, a German Green MEP. After rapporteur for the file, EPP’s Axel Voss, presented his initial compromise amendments to the file last week, Veda responded that his efforts to appease staunch opposition were simply not good enough.

“The new proposal by Axel Voss still makes platforms liable for all their users’ copyright infringements, with no safeguards to prevent filtering,” she said. “Platforms can either filter everything or get a license for every work in the world.”

Voss’s attempts to find a compromise between conflicted parties even managed to contract the disapproval of hardline copyright supporter ALDE’s Jean-Marie Cavada.

Another shadows meeting is scheduled for Tuesday (4 September), in which further compromises are set to be thrashed out as a means to find common ground between the warring factions. The copyright vote itself is due to take place in Strasbourg on 12 September.

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