The EU-funded film Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars yesterday. It's backers are lobbying the European Union for 3-strikes measures that will penalise Internet users and puts the entire Internet in jeopardy from filtering. How do we square that from a public policy perspective?
Anyone who is not a hermit will know that a film called Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscar awards at a ceremony in Hollywood last night. What isn't so well known is that the film received 830 million Euro from the EU's MEDIA programme which provides funding for European films. Even less well known is that its other financial backers - Pathe and 20th Century Fox - who stand to make huge profits from the film - have been lobbying the EU for graduated response / 3-strikes measures.
Pathe (based in France) and Fox (owned by Rupert Murdoch's
News Corporation) are the distributors of the film. According to The Independent, Fox ‘picked up the rights for a song'because Warner Brothers bottled out. Thus Fox stands to make a great deal from this film, which cost 11 million Euro to make.
The EU arguably only gave a small percentage (7.5%). Nevertheless, from a public policy perspective, we should ask some questions. Will the money be paid back to the EU taxpayer? In the current climate, should the EU be giving hand-outs to firms which are arguably profitable, as both companies are? And it seems to me to be troubling that firms who receive hand-outs from the EU are at the same time lobbying for protectionist measures which will infringe on the fundamental rights of EU citizens.
Pathe lobbies via EFCA, the European Film Companies Alliance. EFCA and Twentieth Century Fox have called on the European Commission for "cooperation" between rights holders and ISPs. Their definitions of "cooperation" included filtering and graduated response/3-strikes measures for the purposes of copyright enforcement.
At the beginning of last year, EFCA wrote to the European Commission *:
"ISPs should hence be made liable for copyright infringements and enforcement of copyrights
should be improved...There is a need to impose a more explicit legal base to the
notion of cooperation between rightsholders, ISPs, telecom operators and other stakeholders,
namely in order (i) to favour the emergence of legal services making available cultural contents and (II) to encourage a common fight against copyright infringements."
And Twentieth Century Fox wrote : "We support increased and effective stakeholder cooperation in this Creative Content Online public consultation and in related activities, including the implementation of notice and take-down regimes and technology measures (e.g. filtering) to limit the distribution of illegal content online. Such cooperation should also include public education efforts to improve consumer understanding and respect for copyright in the online environment"
That last sentence reminds me of Article 33.3 (formerly Article 33(2a) of the Universal Services directive in the Telecoms Package.
"national regulatory authorities and other relevant authorities shall as far as appropriate promote cooperation
between undertakings providing electronic communications networks and/or services and the
sectors interested in the promotion of lawful content in electronic communication networks and
services. That co-operation may also include coordination of the public interest information to be
made available under Article 21(4a) and Article 20(2)."
*Both quotes come from submissions to the European Commission's Creative Content Online consultation.