EU Indie Producers Issue Code of Fair Practices to Streamers

The European Producers Club (EPC), based in Paris, represents 130 independent film and television drama producers throughout Europe. The group just issued a four-point Code of Fair Practices for VOD Services aimed at Amazon Studios, Disney+, Netflix and other streaming companies that commission content from its members. France, Italy and Germany are currently in negotiations to implement Europe’s earlier Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), which requires streaming companies to invest revenue into local productions.

Variety reports that, according to EPC president, Norwegian Gudny Hummelvoll, the code is intended “not to alienate streamers … who are some of our best clients.” EPC board member Friedrich Radmann said that, when European indie production companies negotiate with streaming companies, they raise points but rarely achieve their goals.

French producer Alexandra Lebret, EPC managing director, said the model is now one “in which the independent producer is being transformed into a mere service producer under a work-for-hire doctrine.” EPC would like the EU to “adopt some or all of the proposed rules in the code” and suggested “that it can provide a useful framework for discussion with national regulators when they implement the AVMS directive in countries where it has not been implemented yet.”

The Code’s first principle is for “fair and proportionate remuneration and economic participation for producers,” similar to that already provided in the EU for “authors, directors and other copyright or related rights owners.” This would also include “reasonable producer fees, overhead fees in accordance with industry standards, and additional remuneration to be determined fairly and depending on viewing results.”

Second, the EPC’s code states that, “when an independent production company has acquired, created or co-developed an IP, that underlying IP shall remain with the production company, including the rights to make sequels, prequels, remakes, and any other derivative audiovisual works based on the initial film or TV series.”

Third, the Code asks for transparency and accountability, more specifically that “the VOD services should provide the independent production company with regular and comprehensive information on the exploitation of the work, in particular with respect to (i) the number of overall views of the work on the VOD service, including detailed data for the key territories, as well as (ii) relevant and comprehensive information about any off-service exploitation and any revenues thus generated.”

Fourth, the Code asks that, “national benefits or subsidies, regional support funding and/or tax incentives aimed at national and European works in the Member States should be accessed only through independent production companies …  Such support should be recognized as part of the producer’s financial contribution and allow for the production company to maintain ownership and control of exploitation rights that are of a value that is truly comparable to that contribution.”

Deadline reports that, “back in October, filmmakers including Pedro Almodóvar, Agnieszka Holland and Paweł Pawlikowski signed a letter penned by the European Producers Club calling for a European production levy that would force the VODs to pay money back into local production economies.” Streaming companies “have always maintained that they pay their fair share.”