Who should own the intellectual property (IP) of a creative project, and who has the right to earn profits from it?
Those were some of the questions tabled this afternoon on the first day of AGORA series — the Thessaloniki Film Festival’s hybrid film-series industry symposium. The festival’s panel on IP was chaired by Alexandra Lebret, Managing Director of the European Producers Club. Speakers included Alex Traila, Programme Μanager at Council of Europe, Amanda Livanou, founder of Neda Film, IP expert Elli Filippopoulou, Beta Film producer Ferdinand Dohna, and Paper Entertainment CEO Julien Leroux, who appeared to have the most definitive answer to the day’s questions.
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“The profits need to be shared. And, for that, we need to find a balanced solution where rights and IP can be shared,” Leroux said.
“All the fights with the guilds in the US are really about this. There is no reason why all the profits, and we’re talking 100% of the profits, should stay on one side, meaning the streamers and studios.”
Leroux, whose credits include the Apple TV series Tehran, starring Glenn Close, added that it is often “very difficult” to identify which projects may turn out to be valuable when deep in development. As such, producers must take a risk when plunging their resources into a project for which they deserve to be compensated. He used his own show Tehran, which was picked up by Apple after being produced by Cineflix, to illustrate the point.
“The risk was absolutely taken by Cineflix, which is an independent distributor. They took the risk to make that show. Without them, that show would probably have been a Netflix original. Netflix would own it and keep 100% of the profits,” he said. “This has not been the case because we found partners.”
While the panel was largely critical of the influence global streamers wield over the destination and distribution of a project’s profits and IP, they also conceded that streamers now act as an “accelerator” in a project’s lifespan, raising its profile and allowing audiences across the world to watch it.
“They are giving us the possibility to reach a global audience. It’s just unbelievable that shows are being launched in so many languages and countries,” Leroux said. “It’s an amazing tool for the industry, but the question is the price of this deal.”
The Thessaloniki International Film Festival runs until November 12.
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