I’ve turned The European Strategy Trilogy into something a little more refined and submitted it to the European Commission’s public consultation on ‘Assessing State aid for films and other audiovisual works.’ 

Download it here.  Here’s the most radical suggestion:

Modernize how public funding agencies conceive their mission, with an emphasis on much wider and cheaper distribution of EU movies. We propose:

  • Making public funding contingent on creative commons commercial use licensing of the work after an initial period of commercial release (provisionally, five years). The CC license would allow works to circulate at no cost, without requiring permission from the rightsholder.
  • Allowing production companies to buy out of this clause if they choose to do so (notably if a film is a hit) by paying back the funding agency.

Collectively, these measures are designed to:

  • Dramatically increase the legal availability of European film in international markets, allowing producers to focus on building audiences and creating a feedback loop between international reception and production.
  • Slowly defuse the anxiety around piracy (as there are no starving auteurs with violated rights at the end of this process—only well fed ones).
  • Create a probably permanent competitive advantage over Hollywood in regard to international transaction and licensing costs (for most work, after five years, the cost falls to zero).
  • Provide an ex-post way out of the public funding of blockbusters (while protecting small market films and riskier productions).
  • Provide a clearer sense of the public funding mission in the digital era: to maximize not only the production of culture, but also the ability to experience and enjoy it. Public funding should maximize public utility.