Warsaw, March 31, 2017
Mrs. Róża Gräfin
von Thun und Hohenstein
Bât. Altiero Spinelli
60, rue Wiertz / Wiertzstraat 60
Bât. Louise Weiss
1, avenue du Président Robert Schuman, CS 91024
F-67070 Strasbourg Cedex
Re: European Commission’s Proposal for the Regulation on Geo-Blocking
Dear Mrs. Thun und Hohenstein,
On behalf of the Creative Poland Association (“Stowarzyszenie Kreatywna Polska”) and a number of supporting organizations listed in this letter, we respectfully request an urgent revision of the proposed Regulation on geo-blocking (2016/0152 COD). In particular, for the further existence of creators, performers and businesses operating in the field of culture, it is of utmost importance that the services offering copyrighted content should be excluded from the scope of the Regulation.
As we have repeatedly emphasized in our previous statements – contrary to the good intentions of those promoting the single European market for copyrighted cultural goods – the prohibition of the possibility of geo-blocking will endanger the existence of many national companies, distributors, publishers, manufacturers and collecting societies. It is obvious that there is no and will not be a single market of cultural goods in the European dimension, modeled on the US market. Culture is embedded in national languages and national traditions. This also applies to the exploitation of foreign works which must be adapted, developed and promoted according to the specific nature of the country and the recipients living there. In this regard, there are fundamental differences between countries that dictate different approach to reaching recipients of culture. Even international productions of global producers are received in different ways in different European countries. Nevertheless the European integration can operate in favour of artistic works embedded in the specifics of a given national culture, under the condition of leaving the current legal regulations unchanged in respect to their distribution Due to the territorial nature of copyright law, parties of license agreements should specify optimal conditions for them, including the licensing territories.
Introducing the single market of cultural goods in the digital market – following the prohibition of geographical blocking – will speed up consolidation processes in which only the greatest players in Europe will survive. Among them, obviously, Polish enterprises may be missing. The Polish market of creative goods still cannot be compared with other markets of Western countries, whose enterprises together with global players will probably be the sole beneficiaries of the planned changes. Polish creative industries and Polish creativity will be marginalized. A similar fate will be especially encountered in cultural sectors of other smaller European countries. In combination with the „country of origin” rule, this will also lead to marginalization of the applicable Polish copyright law for the legal systems of countries that guarantee a significantly lower level of protection.
At the same time we express our strong opposition to the intention of the inclusion of audiovisual content to the scope of the Regulation as well as the intention to use the so-called „review clause” for audiovisual content, Our postulate is well justified by specific character of the audiovisual sector. The arguments previously mentioned many times strongly support keeping a separate regime for the audiovisual industry.
The planned changes are allegedly being introduced in the interest of consumers. Polish consumers will certainly suffer as a result of the limited offer addressed to them, as discussed above. The effect of the elimination of „price discrimination” will be a price increase for Polish customers. So far, the level of prices of cultural goods is lower in Poland. Therefore the price alignment in the European Union must entail their increase in Poland. There is no doubt that global players will adjust prices to the purchasing power of consumers from wealthier countries. Likewise, the need to acquire licenses for the entire territory of the European Union will eliminate the vast majority of Polish entities due to their lower bargaining power.
The steps taken to unify the market in Europe deserve approval where they are sensible and where the implemented changes will have a positive effect. The cultural sphere certainly does not belong to the fields of the economy in which these changes are desirable. It is quite the opposite in fact, because for Polish creators, artists and entrepreneurs from the creative industries, the inclusion of copyrighted content on the prohibition of geo-blocking will have very negative effects and will not bring any positive results. For this reason, we respectfully request your urgent revision of the proposed Regulation on geo-blocking and introduction of appropriate changes to the draft Regulation.
On behalf of Creative Poland Association and organizations listed below:
Polska Izba Książki [Polish Book Chamber]
Stowarzyszenie Filmowców Polskich [Polish Filmmakers Association]
Izba Wydawców Prasy [Chamber of Press Pubilishers]
Stowarzyszenia Dziennikarzy i Wydawców REPROPOL [Association of Journalists and Publishers REPROPOL]
Stowarzyszenie Dystrybutorów Filmowych [Association of Film Distributors]
Polskie Stowarzyszenie Jazzowe [Polish Jazz Association]
Krajowa Izba Producentów Audiowizualnych KIPA [National Chamber of Audiovisual Producers]
Związek Producentów Audio-Video ZPAV [Association of Audio and Video Producers ZPAV]
Stowarzyszenie SYGNAŁ [SYGNAŁ Association]
Stowarzyszenie Autorów i Wydawców COPYRIGHT POLSKA [Association of Authors and Publishers COPYRIGHT POLAND]
Stowarzyszenie Autorów ZAiKS [Association of Authors ZAIKS]
Stowarzyszenie Fotoreporterów [Association of Photojurnalists]
Związek Kompozytorów Polskich [Association of Polish Composers]