Former government failed to implement EU royalty rules after Netflix meeting, say Polish filmmakers

The Polish Filmmakers Association (SFP) has asked prosecutors to investigate the former Polish government’s failure to implement an EU copyright directive introducing royalties from internet streaming services.

They say Poland is the only member state not to have adopted the measure and claim that the former government withdrew from measures to do so days after then Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki held a meeting with Netflix’s chairman Reed Hastings.

Failure to implement the directive, which “would protect Polish creators from the injustice and exploitation of streaming services such as Netflix, among others”, has already cost the Polish industry 75 million zlotych (€17.4 million) in unpaid royalties, says the SFP.

Stowarzyszenie Filmowców Polskich złożyło dziś zawiadomienie o podejrzeniu popełnienia przestępstwa polegającego na zaniechaniu przyjęcia dyrektywy unijnej wprowadzającej tantiemy z internetu. Więcej: #tantiemyzinternetu #polskiekino

— SFP (@SFP_org_pl) February 1, 2024

The deadline for member states to implement two EU directives on digital copyright was June 2021. Last year, the European Commission launched action against 11 member states, including Poland, for their failure to implement one or both directives by that stage.

Yesterday, the SFP announced that it had filed a notification with prosecutors asking them whether the former Polish government’s failure to implement the legal changes required by EU law constitutes misconduct in public office.

They note that in June 2022 the culture ministry prepared a draft regulation to introduce internet royalties for filmmakers. But on 5 December that year, notes the SFP, Morawiecki held a meeting with Hastings.

Three days later, the digital affairs ministry – which at the time was headed by Morawiecki, in addition to his role as prime minister – requested that the culture ministry’s draft regulation be withdrawn, says the SFP.

Wczoraj premier @MorawieckiM spotkał się z prezesem Netflixa @reedhastings, aby porozmawiać o obecnych i przyszłych inwestycjach @netflix nad Wisłą. Cieszymy się, że amerykańscy inwestorzy z różnych branż realizują i planują kolejne inwestycje w Polsce.

— Piotr Müller (@PiotrMuller) December 6, 2022

In December 2022, the government’s spokesman, Piotr Muller, confirmed that Morawiecki had met Hastings to discuss Netflix’s investments in Poland.

But the SFP now says that, “despite requests for public information, the government did not want to disclose any [further] information regarding the meeting”.

“Countries such as France, Germany and Greece build their identity based on culture,” said the SFP’s president, Jacek Bromski, quoted by Gazeta Wyborcza. “The previous government tried to build Polish culture by supporting Netflix and Samsung.”

“I don’t understand why the Polish government supported large foreign corporations and not Polish creators,” added Karolina Bielawska, the SFP’s deputy head. “Not supporting cinema is like not supporting education. Because who would we be without the films of Andrzej Wajda or Agnieszka Holland?”

Hundreds of classic Polish films were recently made available to watch online for free.

Here is our rundown of ten of the best movies you can enjoy on the new streaming service

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) August 2, 2022

A lawyer for the association, Mikołaj Pietrzak, said that they had only now filed a notification to prosecutors – after a change in government in December – because they did not believe in the independence of the prosecutor’s office under the former administration.

Netflix has in recent years significantly expanded its presence in Poland. In 2022, it announced the opening of offices in Warsaw and pledged to work more closely with local creators and producers on new content.

A number of Polish productions have become global hits on the platform, including last year’s success for Forgotten Love (Znachor), a film based on a classic Polish novel.

New Polish drama Forgotten Love (Znachor) has become a global hit on Netflix.

The film, adapted from a 1937 novel by Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz, is already among Netflix’s most successful ever non-English titles

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) November 2, 2023

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels 

Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.

Podobne wpisy

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *