Creators live for their audiences, and work with their business partners to finance, produce and disseminate their creations. Everyone working in the creative sectors – behind the scenes, at their desk, in their studio – wants the results of their collective work to be enjoyed as widely as possible.
This is why the possibilities of digital technology have been so rapidly embraced by Europe’s creative and cultural sectors – and why over 90 percent of Europeans can access the content they search for in the online market, according to the last Eurobarometer on the topic.
It is also why the DSM is a huge opportunity.
A Digital Single Market (DSM) can only be deemed a success if it incentivizes production and distribution of creative content and cultural works in Europe.
Europe’s creative and cultural sectors have long been a source of creative and economic success, as much part of the continent’s global appeal as its economic clout. A DSM should aim to further improve the environment for creating and investing in the production of cultural works and creative content in Europe.
Creative-sector jobs in Europe will remain European jobs
This is all the more important since 99 percent of the companies in the creative and cultural sectors are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), providing employment for a wide array of people with a wide range of skills, especially young people. Moreover, these people are doing work that cannot easily be outsourced abroad. Creative-sector jobs in Europe will remain European jobs, so it is important that European decision makers choose to foster job creation, not destruction.
The creative sectors are unique in that they often require substantial, high-risk investments before content can reach its potential audience. All creative projects — whether films, television shows, music, books or games — depend on funds to start the project, to cover the investment needed to make, market and distribute it, and must then also make it possible to invest in further works. This means that the business environment has to be right.
How can we put this into practice as we continue our work here in Brussels?
First and foremost, it means reaffirming the fundamental need for flexibility and freedom in how creative works and content are licensed.
Varying audience tastes, habits and customs mean that the appetite for content varies greatly across different markets. Therefore, rightholders need to be able to tap into the inherent differences in the various markets, and unlock funding from other markets as well.
Hence, the practice of pre-selling exclusive distribution rights by territory is a crucial part of providing incentives to invest in film and television production. It also ensures that a foreign distributor has a financial interest in building an audience in their market, a precondition for success. Moreover, the current rules provide enough flexibility for licensing on a territorial and/or multi-territorial basis across the EU 28 when the demand is there.
Compared to other regions, Europe has achieved a vastly superior and more diverse range of online services
The flexibility offered by the way of exceptions to copyright work is likewise vital. We maintain that the current rules, together with a wide variety of business practices, provide the flexibility to innovate to meet consumer needs, while also giving national governments the scope to respect their individual legal traditions and to pursue policies suited to their country’s circumstances.
Copyright should continue to serve the public interest by fostering incentives to create, finance, market and distribute new works and to make those works available to the public in compelling new ways.
But there’s more than just copyright:
- We must encourage growth among Europe’s creative SMEs. SMEs often lack resources to access the financing schemes available – supporting the development of networks for creative SMEs across Europe could help spread knowledge. On the supply side, banks often undervalue intangible assets and struggle to analyze business models.
- Infrastructure is likewise vital. Broadband speeds vary greatly, meaning many cannot reliably access audiovisual content, let alone cutting-edge experiences such as 3D and 4K video, network gaming and virtual interactive worlds.
- Like other sectors, fair competition must be the basis for a properly functioning market. Maintaining and promoting diverse and competitive online offering is a prerequisite if Europe wants to achieve a pro-consumer digital market. Efforts to follow the money and cut off revenue streams for illegal activities concerning copyright-protected content should also continue.
- Digital skills are now vital for Europeans, and public authorities should do all they can to ensure that curricula include not only computer science, but also the STEAM subjects that are the foundation of digital literacy: Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Maths.
Creative content is a leading part of the online economy, and compared to other regions, Europe has achieved a vastly superior and more diverse range of online services. The DSM will flourish if it continues to offer incentives to the creators and their business partners who invest their time, energy and money in bringing creative works and content to European audiences.
A voice for Europe’s creative and cultural sectors.