The transfer of audiovisual catalogs

22/04/2022

The law n° 2021-1382 of October 25, 2021 relating to the regulation and protection of access to cultural works in the digital era has brought some changes that reinforce the protection of French cinematographic and audiovisual heritage.

Une étape importante dans la protectiAn important step in the protection of cinematographic and audiovisual works was taken with the law of July 7th, 2016, which modified article L.132-27[1] of the Intellectual Property Code, which introduced an obligation of continuous exploitation on the part of the producer of cinematographic or audiovisual works. This ongoing operation requirement was later clarified by a professional agreement dated October 3, 2016 under the auspices of the National Center for Cinematography[2] ; it was therefore incumbent upon the producers to ensure, on the one hand, the preservation of the elements having contributed to the realization of these works, and their optimal exploitation on the other hand.

However, this obligation was only limited to works governed by French production contracts. The law of October 25, 2021 has thus reinforced the protection of the exploitation of works in case of transfer to foreign producers, in a context of increasing importance of foreign SMADs, and has added a Title VI “Protection of public access to cinematographic and audiovisual works” to Book II of the Code of Cinema and Moving Images. From now on, in order to mitigate the under-exploitation of French works which would no longer fall under the protection of article L.132-27 of the CPI, the law now introduces an obligation of prior notification to the Minister of Culture, codified in article L.261-2 of the Code of Cinema and Moving Images[3].

(See our article on this topic published on November 18th, 2021 : La promulgation de la loi relative à la régulation et à la protection de l’accès aux œuvres culturelles à l’ère numérique : un bond en avant pour la défense de la création française)

This notification, which must take place at least six months before the transfer, is accompanied by a file justifying the capacities of the beneficiary of the transfer to ensure the exploitation followed by article L.132-27 of the CPI. Within three months, the Minister of Culture must assess the viability of the measures envisaged by the transferee; if these seem insufficient, he may submit the request to a Commission for the protection of access to works, instituted by a Decree n° 2022-256 of February 25, 2022 modifying the regulatory part of the Code of the Cinema and the Animated Image and carrying various measures relating to the cinema and the animated image sector. This decree, which is the regulatory counterpart of the law of October 25, 2021, also creates a Title VI that echoes the new legislative provisions, and codifies the composition and powers of the Protection Commission in articles R.261-6 and following of the CCIA. Once the Commission is seized, it hears the transferor and the beneficiary and renders a decision that may be appealed before the judicial judge.

This additional milestone in the reinforcement of the protection of access to cultural works will thus prevent a certain number of these works from leaving French territory, as the current practice of SMADs is to acquire them by entire catalogs. This protection, which goes beyond our borders, aims at preserving the national cultural heritage, which is largely composed of publicly funded works[4].

[1] https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/codes/article_lc/LEGIARTI000033688073

[2]EExtended by an order dated October 7th, 2016, https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/jorf/id/JORFTEXT000033274338

[3] https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/codes/article_lc/LEGIARTI000044246884

[4]F. Pollaud-Dulian, « Fusion du CSA et de la HADOPI dans l’ARCOM et contrôle des cessions d’œuvres audiovisuelles à l’étranger », RTD Com. 2021 p. 835

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