Content equals innovation
Contrary to the opinion of Alexander Stubb, Finland’s European affairs and trade minister, and Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Spain’s secretary of state for the European Union, authors’ rights are not stopping the single market going digital (“The single market needs to go digital”, 7-13 June). Indeed, content is driving online innovation.
Professional creation relies on specialised companies investing to make creation possible. The majority of these investors in Europe are small and medium-sized enterprises. Professional creation is expensive – a European film has an average budget of €3 million-€4m, and it takes five minutes at the end of a feature film to list the professionals involved – and films are typically financed by a myriad of producers, co-producers, local distributors, international distributors, broadcasters, national and European support schemes and others. They all want a return on their investment.
New operators in the market may not know where to get licences but broadcasters manage, spending significant amounts of money on rights that they think will guarantee them a return on their investment.
Europe’s market is not harmon-ised. Many online operators take advantage of low Luxembourg taxation rates, while opening in big markets first and smaller ones later. No country in Europe wants to harmonise taxes (not even VAT). Mobile-phone companies do not launch the same product in every market simultaneously and there are no pan-European mobile operators. Neither authors’ rights nor copyright is the problem here. Opening a service in a new country requires adapting marketing, content and language to the local market. These companies recognise differences in local demand and adapt.
As far as private copying is concerned, we accept that some form of harmonisation could be useful. Hopefully, the mediator appointed by the European Commission will clarify this and reassure authors that they will be compensated.
We want easy access to Spanish music, Polish films (dubbed or subtitled), and (translated) Bulgarian books. But creators need to be fairly remunerated for their work. This should also be an objective of the digital single market.
We need to stimulate the growth of new accompanying industries that recognise the value of the content that is driving the modernisation of networks and telecommunications.
Robert Alberdingk Thijm
Jaco Van Dormael
Patrons of the Society of Audiovisual Authors
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