BERLIN (February 10, 2017) – Morrison & Foerster, a leading global law firm, hosted high-profile panel sessions on “Navigating the New: New content, new platforms, new piracy threats, new alliances,” together with the Motion Picture Association (MPA), on the occasion of the 67th Berlinale Film Festival.
The two panel sessions, attended by more than 150 guests, were organized and moderated by Christiane Stuetzle, partner and head of Morrison & Foerster’s German film practice and co-head of the firm’s Global Film & Entertainment Practice, together with Christian Sommer, German country representative for the MPA. Michelle R. Logsdon, Cultural Attaché, U.S. Embassy Berlin, opened the panel with a word of welcome, outlining the long-standing relationship between the film industries of Germany and the United States, with roots going back to Carl Laemmle, the German-born film pioneer, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1884 and became a founder of Universal Studios.
In light of the changing technology generating new piracy challenges, the first panel session focused on piracy threats via set-top boxes with pre-installed applications and add-ons for illegal downloads. Stan McCoy, President & Managing Director, MPA EMEA, highlighted the scale of the problem both in terms of content availability and the rapid growth of users who access content illegally via such set-top boxes. “We are seeing a staggering growth of apps and add-ons that are used through set-top boxes to watch unauthorized films, TV and sports on the television,” outlined McCoy. “Like any other form of piracy, it has attracted greedy criminal networks, and exposes consumers and their families to grave security and child protection risks,” he concluded.
Tim Kuik, Managing Director, Stichting BREIN, gave an insight on a current claim asserted by Stichting Brein against a Dutch “Filmspeler” selling such set-top boxes, with the fundamental question of whether such sale ultimately leading to copyright infringements can be considered to be an illegal “act of making available” copyright protected works — a fundamental legal question which will soon be decided by the European Court of Justice. Sky’s Daniel Friedlaender outlined the rising problems related to set-top piracy and suggested that in addition to ongoing education campaigns, European and German lawmakers needed to increase their efforts to protect copyright. The entire EU creative sector and the vibrant Berlinale film market continue to be damaged by widespread piracy.
The second panel focused on the upside of the new market developments and the new opportunities emerging from consumer demand for high-quality content.
Marco Chimenz, producer and CEO of Italy’s main independent film & television production company ‘Cattleya Film’ and president of the European Producers Club, outlined the opportunities for cooperation between different market players, such as his new TV series “Suburra,” produced for Netflix in co-operation with Italian broadcaster RAI.
As an alternative solution, Dan Maag, CEO, Pantaleon Entertainment AG & Pantaflix GmbH, described how he and his partners successfully launched their own distribution platform “Pantaflix” in 2016, a global self-distribution platform for a global on-demand distribution.
On the distribution side, Peter Kerckhoff, Vice President Content, Deutsche Telekom, and Kai Schmidt-Merz, managing director of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Germany, both highlighted the increasing consumer demand for high-quality content and how such market demand allows various distributors and platforms to co-exist.
Daniel Friedlaender outlined how this problem contrasted with the exciting and ever-growing variety of content and distribution channels of Sky, also focusing on the important role of co-productions and the need for territorial exclusivity to help finance production.
Christiane Stuetzle and Christian Sommer concluded that: "As technology emerges, new ways of distributing content pose challenges and offer opportunities to reach audiences around the world, also affecting the legal and policy framework along the way. But content and compelling storytelling remains king, regardless of the distribution means."
The panel discussion was followed by a reception with approximately 300 high-ranking guests from the international film & entertainment industry.