SWD IA on EU copyright modernisation – Impacts of first option on availability of EU AV on VOD

Stakeholders’ dialogue focusing on licensing issues and aiming at improving the proportion of EU audiovisual works available on VoD platforms

Having a platform to meet and discuss licensing issues preventing availability of EU AV works on VoD platforms (e.g. exclusivity issues; release windows), at European level, could contribute to reach agreements (self-regulatory measures) for a more sustained exploitation of EU works, which would benefit all stakeholders involved. However, chances of reaching concrete agreements would depend on the willingness of the stakeholders to engage in constructive discussions and to take commitments.

The rightholders’ business model based e.g. on exclusivity deals and release windows would not be affected under this option. The stakeholders’ dialogue could lead to some agreement as regards the streamlining of licensing practices (for instance, development of standard clauses that could easily be included in contracts). This could encourage rightholders intensifying digital exploitation of their works. The stakeholder dialogue could also raise awareness as to the importance of clearing the rights for the producers. This could have a positive impact on distributors and other intermediaries down the contractual chain, and ultimately, on the availability of works on VoD platforms.

However, by its nature, the stakeholder dialogue would only concern collective solutions and could not solve individual issues. Therefore, the impact of this option on works blocked in exclusivity deals are expected to be limited. It would indeed be necessary to start individual negotiations to obtain from a right holder that it renounces to its exclusivity. As regards release windows, this option could have a positive impact by bringing more flexibility. The stakeholder dialogue could facilitate contacts between small and medium rightholders (or their representatives) and aggregators/VoD platforms. They could work together on ways to improve the inclusion of their works in an aggregator’s or VoD platform’s catalogue.

Under this option, if the stakeholder dialogue helps reducing transactions costs and facilitating contacts between on the one hand, VoD platforms and aggregators, and on the other hand, rightholders (in particular producers), consumers would be able to enjoy a larger choice of works, including small productions. They could also benefit from earlier access to some works on VoD platforms. It is likely that costs for consumers to access VoD services would remain unchanged or would only slightly increase in cases where SVoD platforms offer a substantially larger catalogue.