Charles Rivkin Remarks at Lille Transatlantic Dialogues

March 27, 2019

As prepared for delivery.

Thank you. I want to thank Series Mania for sponsoring this important gathering of writers, producers, broadcasters, platforms and European regulators. And my warmest greetings to the previous speaker, Ted Sarandos, who is not only CEO of Netflix, the newest member of the Motion Picture Association, but also a longtime personal friend.

It is great to be back in Europe, a continent that has been so influential in almost every chapter of my life and remains in my heart every day.

As a child, I lived in Luxembourg where my father served as US Ambassador. And as a high school student, I came to France to study the language and culture.

I lived with a host family in Brittany, and I travelled across the French heartland – La France Profonde – where I had the chance to meet real people and experience the culture firsthand.

Years later, I was so honored to serve as US Ambassador in France, where I visited all 22 regions that existed in the country at that time.

One of my very first trips was Lille. In fact, I still have my schedule from that day.

I toured the city, visited the Lille-Arras World Trade Center, the International Chamber of Commerce and Industry, had lunch with Jean-Michel Bérard, Prefet of Nord-Pas-de-Calais.

I also went to the city hall, where I had the pleasure of meeting Mayor Martine Aubry. She’s not only Lille’s first female Mayor, and a politician of national stature, this is her 18th extraordinary year in office.

[Back to English] It’s great to be back in Lille, a town that has adapted to changing times and is in fact, a great metaphor for today’s discussions.

A generation ago, it was a manufacturing center of coal mines and textiles. Then it transformed itself to be a service sector leader. In the 1980s and 1990s, with the arrival of a high speed TGV train line, the channel tunnel, and the Eurostar, it reinvented itself again. This time as a vibrant connector between three important cities: Paris, London and Brussels.

The people of Lille have always had an eye to the future. And the city’s interconnectedness has been its most powerful asset in a changing world.

Of course, the digital economy has made interconnectedness the very watchword of our time. And Lille has adapted again. It is now considered a major center for cybersecurity.

Which leads me to the message I bring today. It’s time to recognize that the digital era is not just some component of our lives. It is our shared reality. And every norm, law, regulation or tradition in virtually every sector of modern life must embrace this new present without losing the values that we cherish.

More specifically, in our conversation today, I refer to making sure our policies recognize some foundational values and truths at the heart of any debate that concerns our industry and the role and value of all creators.

Stopping piracy should be a constant in virtually any debate.

Supporting copyright and commercial freedom is absolutely essential to everything we do.

Empowering audiences so they can get the content they want, in the way they want – but legally – is critical.

At a time of such lively debate over the digital economy …

And at a time when the European Parliament is addressing policies that will have a direct impact on virtually everyone in this room …

We should start by applying the lesson Lille has taught us: To be owners of our future. In our case, the digital future.

For our industry, that starts with acknowledging the new ways in which we are already cooperating and thriving in the modern media environment. And recognizing that our existing strength – our creativity – positions us perfectly for future success.

We live in a world of deeply interrelated players. Some are international in scale like the MPA and our members. Some are national like many broadcasters. There are national players and global exporters. There are international companies that want to invest in local content. And local companies that want to make international content.

I’ll share a few examples.

Constantin Film AG … Respected for years as a German film company. Now an international television producer with programs like the TV series Showhunters, in collaboration with Netflix.

HBO and RAI … Together, they made My Brilliant Friend, which marks HBO’s first foreign-language TV venture in Italy.

NBC Universal … Now shooting its TV series Better Late than Never in Madrid and Barcelona.

Gaumont International TV … A co-producer of the NBC American TV series Hannibal. And the principal cast features an Englishman, a Dane, an American, and a Canadian.

In this shared ecosystem, our interests are the same: Engaging audiences Not just in our own countries and languages. Regionally and internationally.

It’s not about what content “travels” or doesn’t any more. Everything is shared around the world at hyper speed. From Boston to Bordeaux to Bangkok, young people are embracing distant pop culture. From K-Pop to Japanese anime, and beyond. They are eager for diverse content. Global content.  All norms and assumptions about national lines break down. There is no “niche” any more. It’s more often mainstream.

Our industry recognizes that. It’s the reality in which we already live, operate and thrive.

It’s time to move forward. To think about how we can support and expand those collaborations. Not force-fit them into preconceived assumptions.

Moving forward, we need to think about the core elements necessary to success.

Top of that list – our Number One priority – should be protection of our work.

We have just been through a lively debate in Europe about adjustments to copyright law. But we haven’t talked sufficiently about copyright protection.

Piracy is not an abstract threat. We make and distribute a digital product that’s always at risk. People can – and all too often do – reproduce and share illegally.

For example, Hannibal was a huge success, but it was ultimately cancelled. How did that happen?  Hannibal producer Martha De Laurentiis explained one key reason:

“When nearly one-third of your audience for Hannibal is coming from pirated sites, you don’t have to know calculus to do the math. If a show is stolen, it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to fairly compensate a crew and keep a series in production.”

Piracy is pervasive. It doesn’t just hurt our industry. It robs everyone in the value chain. It’s a security risk to the very audiences and consumers we are here to serve.

Across the world, large-scale, sophisticated, illicit enterprises are reaping money at the cost of millions of workers. In Europe alone, piracy threatens the viability of 12 million jobs. And it really hurts the small and medium businesses that service the industry.

Piracy preys on our audiences too. One third of pirate sites contain malware, which is often used for identity theft and other nefarious schemes.

Illegal downloading is widespread. In 2017, according to Mark Monitor data, 9.4 billion pirated movies and TV shows were downloaded worldwide. That’s just peer-to-peer. It doesn’t even include other sources like streaming and downloading sites.

In Spain, 33 percent of consumers accessed pirated films in 2017. There were 4 billion illegal content views across all copyrighted content. That meant lost revenues of more than 1.8 billion euros.

In Italy, 37 percent of internet users pirated at least once in 2017.

We can never stamp it out completely. But we are committed to reduce piracy in all its forms.

We have created a global partnership called the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, or ACE. It brings together more than 30 leading content companies, including the MPAA members, Amazon, and European creators including Constantin Film, Canal Plus and Sky.

ACE is a great complement to other anti-piracy efforts, like ALPA here in France. We are proud members of ALPA, which is led by my friend Nicolas Seydoux of Gaumont.

All of the ACE members are focused on accountability and solutions. And we’re honored that Amazon has not only supported efforts to protect creativity but put proactive programs into place that protect trademarks and help curb counterfeiting.

Amazon’s Brand Registry gives rights owners advanced tools, including search capabilities, to protect their brands from counterfeits. They also have a system called “Transparency in the US,” which uses alphanumeric codes to authenticate products.

Payment processors such as Mastercard, Visa, and Paypal are working with us, to prevent pirates from using legitimate financial networks to fund their online activities. And we are working with the advertising community to help companies keep track of where their ad dollars are going.

We must help create environments that allow creators like Hannibal and Showhunter and Better Late than Never to thrive, and their audiences to benefit.

The Palme d’Or winner Christian Mungio recently said that “we need a European policy against piracy.” I agree.

Let’s start by insisting that lawmakers properly implement the existing laws already on the books – like enforcing court orders to disable access to infringing content.

According to EU law, judges across Europe can do that. But 18 years later, some Member States still haven’t taken those steps. Let’s work together to fix that.

A second core element for future policy is freedom. Not just freedom from piracy, but commercial freedom for the owner of rights in a series to decide how to distribute, who to license, and for what territories.

In this ecosystem of mega-diverse audiences and changing tastes, producers need the flexibility to license rights in whatever way helps them best reach their audiences.

For some that will mean going directly to the consumer with their own offerings. For others it will mean licensing large-scale multi-country offerings.

In other cases, it will mean licensing territory by territory – which is still the backbone of the European audiovisual market.

What’s critical here is that the people who own the rights have the freedom to make smart choices about them.

This is a rapidly evolving market. The audiences of today are dynamic.

We cannot afford to have governments impose one-size-fits-all models for licensing.

During the recent debates about territoriality, we successfully demonstrated that content is a key driver of technological innovation …

And that cross-border and contractual freedom are the foundations of a successful European creative industry …

And that this creates millions of jobs, contributes significantly to Europe’s GDP, and more importantly, provides consumers with the diversity of high-quality content that they cherish and enjoy.

We should continue to advocate for those freedoms.

If we are to continue to create ambitious and exciting new content for Europeans and global audiences, it’s in all our interests to be internationally collaborative. We have to protect creativity not stifle it. We must protect creators from theft and abuse. And we must allow creators the freedom to do what they do best. For the market. For the economy. For audiences. For all of us.

Thank you.