What Would a Consolidated Copyright Law Mean for Europe’s Independent Film Market?
Many sales agencies and distributors see VOD expansion as a sign of hope, while they are equally as hopeless in the face of greater digital integration into a single-market.
As widely reported, the European Commission was considering the consolidation of copyright law under a single jurisdiction. Simply put, the 12 to 20 individual European territories that are sold on independent films would be combined under one European-wide agreement, covering all 28 European Union territories.
This is nothing new – for years Latin American, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Eastern European territories have been grouped together for regional-wide distribution agreements.
While many publicly predicted the end of presales in Europe if this law is enacted, notably David “it would literally destroy the business” Garrett of sales agency Mister Smith, there are endless solutions to work around the change. This includes greater sub-licensing, creation of consortiums of smaller distributors that pull resources and share revenues across borders, and more consolidation among the large distributors.
Does Europe really need 600+ film distributors in addition to exhibitors, television programmers, aggregators, and wholesalers? While many decry a change to copyright law will take money out of the mouth of creatives, it actually would boost creative revenues as the supply chain shrinks and closes the gap between consumer spending and production proceeds.
What is at risk of “literally destroying the business” is protecting an antiquated business model unwilling to adapt to changes in viewer habits and demand.
For far too long, distributors have aggressively protected traditional distribution models, and have only recently started adapting to a digital world. Piracy has filled the void left by distributors who are slow to adapt to a changing market. A recent survey of consumers in Spain showed that they preferred paying for a better service, rather than accessing a lesser quality option for free. Spain has one of the highest piracy rates in the world.
Closing the gap between buyer demand and availability on a global scale is an enormous challenge given the fragmented territorial distribution landscape. As delivery, aggregation, and user interface methods continue to evolve, doors will open for demand-driven solutions from new market players.