The dynamic development of the Internet and new technologies is bringing about constant digital pressure on the film industry, which is facing threats and challenges resulting from both the new options of distribution and the changing expectations and habits of the audience. The Internet develops very fast and, as a sphere in which films are distributed, requires adaptation to the existing copyright law and the adaptation of that law, which is regional in nature, to the global scope of the world wide web. That is a huge challenge for collective management organizations, local distributors, and creators who are forced to compete for viewers’ attention not only with powerful corporations which represent Hollywood studios but also with companies which derive profits from illegal film distribution and which often operate by taking advantage of legal loopholes.
The Internet has become the most popular form of illegal access to quality video content. Recipients of digital culture, linked by the media, find themselves in an ambiguous space where films, music records, and books a are just a click of a mouse away.
High-speed Internet has enabled new methods of distribution – recipients can watch the same image in many parts of the globe. That is a fundamental change which presents a challenge to the existing system of distribution which is based on precise management of access and time. In this situation, copyright must be reformed and adapted to the needs of viewers focusing on the experience of here and now. Therefore, the issue of abolishing the geoterritorial barriers has become the subject matter of the European debate.
However, the level of viewers’ consciousness does not keep pace with that technological revolution. Not only are viewers unaware of the difference between legal distribution channels and pirated materials but they also do not understand the principles governing the flow of culture. As a result, the money spent on cultural objects in the Internet strengthens the position of freeriders instead of fueling the development of culture. That is why it has become important to provide viewers with, among other things, comprehensive education about the legal aspects of the distribution of films, including the emphasis on the significance of the cinema auditorium as a temple of the art of cinema.
The digital revolution also means more and more widely accessible technologies which are devoid of physical limitations, technologies which give creators tools for international cooperation and for making films or music by engaging the creative potential of people from the whole world. The situation requires new production models and accompanying support mechanisms, within the framework of which artists and creative industries should be provided with appropriate remuneration for their work, which would give an impulse to further creative efforts.
The European Film Conference: European Cinema in the Face of Piracy and Challenges of the Digital Reality, as an event accompanying the 29. European Film Awards, will be a significant voice in the international discussion about the future of cinema in the digital reality. We would like to efficiently promote the importance of watching films on the silver screen and from legal sources, and we wish to discuss constructively the distribution and availability of films, as well as the issue of piracy and of its impact on creative work. The European Film Awards is a very special authority for stressing the importance of the problem faced by cinema and filmmakers.
How can we create international cinema and distribute film art in the digital world, while honoring the authors’ rights? That is one of the many questions we have to answer today.