Thursday, September 8, 2011

Intellectual Property Issues in the EU and France

Joe Karaganis, vice-president of the American Assembly, considers Europe's approach to intellectual property:

Over the past two decades, the EC has been a very active proponent of higher IP standards and stronger enforcement, from the ACTA agreement, to the upcoming revision to the Enforcement Directive, to the imminent extension of copyright on recordings (see Part Un). Let’s ask the obvious question: why?
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The EC clearly speaks for the European audiovisual industries on these issues, who stand, in theory, to gain from stronger IP enforcement (or maybe not!). But who speaks for the massive and very real consumer surplus? No one. I’m aware of only one study that makes any effort to model it: the Dutch government funded “Ups and Downs: Economic and Cultural Effects of File Sharing on Music, Film and Games,” which estimated the annual welfare benefit from music filesharing in the Netherlands at around 100 million euros. Multiply by 30 for a very crude extrapolation of this benefit across the EU.
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But there’s a catch: so far, the European market (and beyond that, the global market) has had little to do with expressions of cultural specificity or auteur-driven visions. It has to do, above all, with making films in English that minimize those particularities. It means producing a Europe built around historical epics (Ironclad), sci-fi/fantasy (Inception, Harry Potter) or, often quite literally, the perspective of the universal (American) tourist, like last year’s The Tourist (Johnny Depp in Venice) or Unknown (Liam Neeson in Berlin). All of the above were joint US/EU productions on our July download list. And it means a European film industry reorganized further into an investment vehicle for Hollywood movies, like Vendome Pictures, the now defunct publicly-funded Medienfonds in Germany (Battlefield Earth,Terminator 3), or Luc Besson’s massive, soon-to-be opened Cite du Cinema north of Paris.

There's a lot more in this long but very rich article.

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