Film Industry In Developing Countries Needs To Implement Copyright, Speakers Say

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An event held today alongside the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on development gathered several cinema professionals working in emerging or developing countries and said that film makers in those countries need to better understand the functioning of the intellectual property system to be able to be part of the global film industry.

The International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), with the support of the Swiss Federal Council, organised a roundtable discussion entitled, “Film’s Contribution to Development: the view from creative film producers.” The event was held on the margins of the 12th session of the WIPO Committee on Intellectual Property and Development (CDIP), taking place from 18-21 November.

Speakers were film professionals working in countries where the “chain of title” which documents rights along the film production chain, is lacking strength, when not entirely missing.

Guillaume de Seille, French producer of numerous film in emerging countries, such as Turkey, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Colombia, and Azerbaijan, said in some countries writers’ agreements do not exist and have to be invented. This is important, he said, to get funding in developed countries financing those films, such as France, which requires such documentation to grant funding.

The main problem is the lack of a chain of title, he said, as televisions channels, such as Arte, in Europe, require a chain of title to buy a film, in order to avoid any copyright concerns. Even for non-commercial events, such as festivals, this chain of title is often required, he said.

The Locarno International Film Festival has created a platform to facilitate meetings between film makers from developing countries and producers, said Ananda Scepka, head of Open Doors at the Locarno Festival. “Open Doors” allows film makers from developing countries to get visibility, she said, and focuses each year on a different region.

Scepka also underlined the need for a chain of title for films, and the necessity of including a distribution strategy early on in film projects.

Ousmane Boundaoné, director of the Imagine Institute in Burkina Faso, a training centre for film professionals created in 2003, said the institute has trained some 900 professionals from 26 African countries. The training, he said, targets technicians, film directors, some producers, and the institute is trying to develop cooperation with other training institutions. Young film makers, he said, are coming to the industry with production as a sole objective and are not giving much thought to the market, where the stakes are.

International mechanisms such as the use of intellectual property rights need to be integrated in the cinema industry, he said. Legal instruments are not lacking in Burkina Faso, he said, but those rights need to be understood and implemented by cinema professionals such as movie theatre owners, producers, film makers, and – since Burkina Faso has also recognised neighbouring rights – other involved parties, such as actors, he said.

A major challenge is the digital switchover, he said. Already, some issues are arising between the film industry and major mobile telephone companies, which include digital content in their offer, he added.

Nicolas Wadimoff, a Swiss film producer who has worked internationally, for example in Palestine, said the issue of copyright is important when it comes to long feature films. For short films it is not so important, he said, but for long feature films, “you have sales agents, national distribution, international distribution, you can sell your films to television stations, then it is really an issue,” he said.

Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

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  1. […] Film Industry In Developing Countries Needs To Implement Copyright, Speakers Say — A reminder of the fact that, among other things, copyright plays an important role as an economic asset — sometimes the only economic asset — that creators have to enter into negotiations in the marketplace. “An event held today alongside the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on development gathered several cinema professionals working in emerging or developing countries and said that film makers in those countries need to better understand the functioning of the intellectual property system to be able to be part of the global film industry.” […]

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