At the Cannes Film Festival, major representatives of the film and content industry, of Internet service providers and of telecom operators from the EU and the U.S. endorsed the European Film Online Charter that they had jointly developed under the auspices of the European Commission. This Charter – the first of its kind in the world – identifies the preconditions for enabling content and infrastructure providers to make film online services a commercial success. The Charter will serve as reference for future commercial agreements as well as for a broader Content Online policy of the European Commission.
"The Film Online Charter is a major step forward for Europe’s digital economy and for Europe’s content industry", said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, who had initiated this Charter in May 2005. ”Online services will substantially broaden access to European film in all its diversity, and widen circulation both within the European Union and on global markets. It is therefore good news that content and infrastructure providers have today found common ground for future commercial and inter-professional agreements. This will also strongly inspire any future regulatory initiative that the Commission will be considering to ensure that legitimate online content can be made available in a consumer-friendly way and across borders in the European Union".
Launched by the European Commission at last year's Cannes Festival at a meeting with industry representatives, the European Film Online Charter represents the industry consensus for the development of legitimate markets for online sales and distribution of films.
The objective of the European Film Online is to encourage the development and take-up of Film Online in Europe. The signatories to the European Film Online Charter believe that Film Online services, due to their economic and cultural potential, offer a tremendous opportunity for a wider circulation of European films, can create a more vibrant and competitive film sector and will become a powerful driver for broadband in Europe.
The European Film Online Charter identifies four key elements which are urgently needed for Film Online to be taken up: an extensive online supply of attractive films; consumer-friendly online services; adequate protection of copyrighted works; and close cooperation to fight piracy.
In addition, the Charter also lists commendable practices for putting audiovisual content online via legitimate services and in a consumer-friendly way.
The consensus reflected in the European Film Online Charter includes:
* the principle of the availability of films online on a fair, economically sound basis, combined with the recognition that this availability is related to the possibility of financing the high costs of their production,
* the recognition of opportunities that would be offered by Europe-wide or multi-territory licences and clearances, especially for European films with limited distribution outside their principal territories,
* the need for film producers, right holders and online distributors to agree on the most suitable online release window, while bearing in mind the need for an attractive offer to the public,
* the recognition of peer-to-peer technology as positive development for the legitimate online distribution of properly secured content,
* the essential need to create a culture of proper respect for creativity and effective protection of copyright,
* the commitment of online service providers to refrain from knowingly showing advertisements from entities engaged in, or intentionally inducing, piracy; accordingly, they will take the necessary steps to end such practices as quickly as possible following adequate notification,
* the need for cooperation between content providers and online service providers to develop technologies to protect copyrighted material. Technologies should be promoted that are secure, cost effective, robust, and interoperable, ideally based on open standards, across multiple platforms and devices, and
* the need for incentive schemes (such as the Media 2007 and the eContent programme) to help reduce the costs of digital distribution and multilingual versions of European works online.
The European Film Online Charter is set to become the point of reference for the entire film and broadband industry. It is open for endorsement by all interested parties, and in the coming months, many more companies and organisations are expected to sign up to it.
For the Commission, the European Film Online Charter is also seen as the first step towards developing a broader Content Online policy for the European Union. The Commission will present a Communication on this subject in autumn 2006.
See full text of European Film Online Charter and the list of signatories