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High-level Forum on the Cultural & Economic Value of Film and the Role of Copyright Held in Shanghai

During the 21st Shanghai International Film Festival, the High-level Forum on the Cultural & Economic Value of Film and the Role of Copyright, organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in cooperation with the National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC) with the support of the Shanghai Copyright Bureau, was held in Shanghai, China, from June 19-20, 2018. Sylvie Forbin, Deputy Director General of WIPO, attended the forum and delivered a speech on the related issue.

Senior officials from WIPO Headquarters and WIPO Office in China, heads of relevant organizations in South Korea, the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Spain and Vietnam, representatives from international organizations related to the film and television industry, as well as more than 100 representatives from domestic copyright collective management organizations and copyright certification bodies related to foreign countries jointly discussed the successful experience of promoting the economic and cultural value of the film industry by countries along the Belt and Road through improving copyright system and strengthening copyright protection. They also discussed the relationship between film and copyright, film and the creative economy. They agreed that under the international legal framework, effective copyright protection could boost the prosperity of the film industry. They also exchanged views on the benefits of promoting the early entry into force of the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances. Yu Cike, Director General of Copyright Department of NCAC, and Xu Jiong, Director of Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau (Shanghai Copyright Bureau) attended the forum and delivered speeches.

In her speech, Sylvie Forbin said that the Shanghai International Film Festival provided another good opportunity for WIPO to host a high-level forum with NCAC on the theme of copyright and film, with the aim of further promoting Shanghai as a major creative base for the global film industry. At the same time, it was hoped that this international communication platform could bring people from copyright circles and representatives from the film industry of various countries together to discuss the important contribution of copyright protection to the development of film and cultural industry. She also pointed out that according to WIPO’s research, the film industry  accounted for 4% of global core copyright industry value and provides 6% of global employment opportunities. Therefore, governments of all countries have taken developing creative industries, including the film industry, as a goal of national development strategy. Global box office returns have continued to grow steadily in recent years, especially in 2017, it hit an all-time high of $40.6 billion with up 5% year on year. It is predicted that the global box office will reach up to $50 billion by 2020, and the Asia-Pacific region will continue to be the world’s largest film market  with China and India leading the pack. In order to support the sustained growth of the global film industry, a strong and effective legal regulatory framework needs to be established internationally in a bid to promote trade and spread related to films. Copyright protection has proven to be one of the most effective tools in today’s online environment, helping the film industry and other creative industries turn creativity into economic assets.

From 2004 to 2017, China’s box office had made a leap from RMB 1.5 billion to RMB 55.9 billion, Yu Cike said on the forum. In 2017, the number of film screens in China exceeded 50,000 and the number of moviegoers reached 1.62 billion, creating a new development speed and scale. As the film is an important copyright object, in the film industry chain, copyright protection and operation are involved in creation, scriptwriting, production, performance, distribution and projection, as well as the development and utilization of various derivative products after the film stops playing. It can be said that copyright is the basis and core of films, while films are closely linked and highly dependent on copyright protection and operation. The establishment of effective copyright protection and sound copyright environment plays an important role in respecting and encouraging film creation and promoting the development of the film industry. NCAC has always paid great importance attention to the protection of film copyright with constantly strengthening legal modification and system improvement, and implementing strict and effective law enforcement and supervision. It has carried out the Jianwang Campaign against network copyright infringement and piracy for 14 consecutive years, taking the order of film and television copyright as the priority, and implementing various measures such as regulating online video, carrying out special renovation of on-demand movie theaters and establishing pre-warning of film and television works. Thanks to such efforts, infringement and piracy of film and television works have been contained and a sound order of film copyright has been established and maintained. At present, China is striving to transfer from a country with a large film market to one that is strong in the film industry, and copyright protection will play an important role in this regard.

Xu Jiong noted that according to the Annual Report on Film Industry Development in Shanghai (2018) released by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, the annual box office of Shanghai film market in 2017 reached RMB 3.502 billion, with a total of 82 films produced and 41 films released in theaters, bringing the total box office to about RMB 4.966 billion with a year-on-year growth of 20.63% and 10.2% respectively. The success of Shanghai film industry is due to the sound ecological environment of China’s film industry, as well as the strong support of Shanghai Municipal Government for the local film and television industry and the copyright protection measures adopted. In recent years, following the guidance of NCAC, the Shanghai Copyright Bureau has worked with relevant departments to carry out the Jianwang Campaign, cracking down on all kinds of network infringement and piracy concerning audiovisual works with remarkable results.

“A strong crackdown on piracy and an escalating level of law enforcement are key prerequisites for the rapid growth of theater and film screen numbers in China since the reform of theater chain in 2002. China now has more than 9,000 theaters and more than 50,000 film screens, making it the world’s largest film market. In particular, the continuous Jianwang Campaign, including the severe crackdown on online video piracy such as Qvod, has promoted not only the rapid upgrade of the payment business model of mainstream video websites, but also online users’ recognition for pay to watch, demonstrating that the public awareness on copyright of online users has been raised and a public opinion environment favorable to copyright protection has been established.” Zhang Pimin, Vice President of the China Alliance of Radio, film and Television and President of the China Film Foundation, said on the forum.

According to Mike Ellis, President and Managing Director of Motion Picture Association (MPA)’s Asia Pacific operations, the box office of 2017 in Asia-Pacific region reached $16 billion, 6% higher than that of 2016, with China as the biggest contributor. This year, the box office of some Hollywood films in China even surpassed that in North America. China’s film and television industry is playing an increasingly prominent role in economic contribution, and the world is be more optimistic about the value of its copyright. Of course, we should remember that nothing can be done without copyright protection.

The opening ceremony of the forum was presided over by Tang Zhaozhi, Deputy Director General of Copyright Department of NCAC. During the two-day forum, Hyeyeon Choi, Deputy Director of Copyright Bureau of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of ROK, Mary Diño, President and CEO of Film Development Council of Philippines, Jose María Montes, Vice Chairman of the Societies’ Council for the Collective Management of Performers’ Rights (SCAPR), Ren Zhonglun, Party Secretary and Chairman of the Shanghai Film Group, Wu Guanyong, Chairman of Firstbrave Group, and Zhou Yanhong, singer and actress conducted in-depth discussions on the relationship between copyright and film economy, the important role of the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances and other important issues. During the forum, the organizer also led some foreign representatives to visit Shanghai Media Group (SMG) and China Literature. They exchanged views on promoting cooperation in copyright and related rights between countries along the Belt and Road.

Author:Lai Mingfang

Updated: June 21, 2018