Hollywood luvvies probably don’t know much about the European Union, but they’re sure about to.
Whenever Hugh Jackman, or George Clooney, or whoever the kids like nowadays hear about the EU, it is likely in the context of some PR-effort. Something something climate change. Something something save the migrant refugees. Something something women’s rights.
But the true nature of the European Union is about to become painfully obvious to American politicians, filmmakers, and inevitably, the citizenry of the United States.
The expansionist, undemocratic European Commission is now making itself into Hollywood’s new super villain, challenging the rights of film studios and their distributors to set different prices across different countries in Europe, according to Hollywood Reporter.
On July 23, the European Commission — the European Union’s executive arm — sent an antitrust complaint to the six major U.S. film studios as well as Sky UK, a possible opening salvo against Hollywood.
The EU claims Sky’s licensing deals with Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. that restrict access to their films outside of Britain and Ireland violate laws guaranteeing free trade among the 28 EU countries. “Consumers want to watch the pay TV channels of their choice, regardless of where they live or travel in the EU,” said Europe antitrust boss Margrethe Vestager in a statement.
I’m a consumer, and I don’t need Margarethe Vestager, a nobody Member of Parliament from Denmark’s “Radical Left” party, negotiating on my behalf. I didn’t appoint her to, I certainly didn’t elect her to. And I refuse to give my consent to someone who called themselves “chairwoman of the board” and whose major achievements include being an executive of a government-owned fishing company in Greenland, to negotiation on my behalf.
Nonetheless, Vestager intends to go after the movie studios with the full financial arsenal of the European taxpayer behind her.
Indeed her insistence in movie homogeneity across Europe could end up costing the studios billions. I mean literally billions.
Besides the obvious fines the EU would impose on companies like Disney, Sony, Fox, and Warner Bros for non-compliance, there’s some obvious implication for copyright here. That is to say, is you require that all 28 European Union member countries to “share” the rights to film distribution, it would effectively cut out the entire point of selling to more than one country.
“It’s buy one, get 27 free,” says the Hollywood Reporter, while quoting Alfred Holighaus, of the German film group SPIO, who said EU competition laws “could not be harmonised without destroying copyright.”
Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Claudio Aspesi believes that if territoriality falls, studios would suffer huge losses because not many buyers could afford rights throughout the continent; plus, more “local competitors means higher revenues.”
But, to be fair to the European Commission, it does appear that Sky has wrangled itself somewhat of a monopoly in the United Kingdom and Ireland – a matter which I would rather have the British government, not some random Danish woman trying to make a Mario Monti out of herself – deal with. CNN reports it as:
According to regulators, each of the six film studios has an agreement with Sky that requires Sky to block access to films through its online or satellite services to consumers outside of the U.K. In turn, the studios are required to prevent other broadcasters from making their pay TV services available in the U.K. and Ireland, giving Sky “territorial exclusivity.”
So we have a problem. But we have a very European solution, and that’s rarely ever a good answer nowadays. Fining Disney $7bn isn’t going to achieve much but piss of the consumers and the shareholders who suffer, and line the pockets of the Euro-elite.
The problem in reality of course, is Sky’s dominance in the UK and Ireland, which can and should be combatted by competition and competitors, rather than by picking the pockets of a bunch of liberal, Hollywood wankers. Mind you, I couldn’t have thought of a better crowd to do it to if we absolutely have to. And I can’t wait to see the next Hollywood blockbuster film where the baddie spins around in
his her chair, stroking a migrant cat sitting in her lap, with an EU flag pin fastened to his her lapel and says, “Ah, generic American hero. We’ve been expecting EU…”