Can Steely Neelie force change onto the film industry?

 Earlier this week the EU played  host to  exclusive talks with the film and Internet industries, intended to re-shape the film industry business model  for the Internet. The talks, which took place in the south of France, behind closed doors, and well away from prying eyes, had a guest list that included the great and the good of the European film and Internet industries. These distinguished guests will get the first cut at a new piece of EU law for films on the ‘Net.

 The gathering of CEOs, film producers and lobbyists, was addressed by the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes. Mrs Kroes  lived up to her  nickname of  Steely Neelie, when she told the film producers that they must change their ways and move on from traditional practices such as ‘release windows’. Cinema flourished because it adapted to change, not by ignoring it, she said.

Commissioner Kroes  went on to urge the film industry  to embrace the online world, and demolish outdated barriers to business, especially to cross-border availability of films.

 She reminded them of how the  music industry has paid a high price for failing to do so:

 “For too long, the music industry resisted promoting legal downloads. But that didn't do them any favours”.

 Mrs Kroes gave an indication of what the EU wants to do in law:

“I want a framework that limits piracy – not simply through ever-more aggressive enforcement, but by making it easier for people to get what they want, instantly, on demand and legally; without facing frustrating, artificial barriers” said Mrs Kroes.

 She held  out a pitch for the European film industry, to strengthen it against the all-powerful Hollywood. It’s no longer good enough for all the new ideas to be made in America and imported. Europe must conceive and nurture its own innovation and creative works.

 Perhaps that is the carrot in return for accepting  legislation.  But perhaps not.

 Hollywood, via its lobbying group the Motion Picture Association (MPA) has had its claws into the EU for a long time. The EU will have to ensure that the proposed new Regulation is sufficiently tough to force the film industry into change. I personally will watch it with a sceptical eye, as the chosen  legislative vehicle is actually quite a soft one. And I fear that its processing may bypass the Parliament.

 This is an original article from If you refer to it or to its content,  you should cite my name as the  author, and provide a link back to  Media and Academics – please cite as Monica Horten,  EU hosts private talks on new film business models, in,  13 October   2012 . Commercial users - please contact me.