Archive for October, 2009

The Eclipse wins at Stiges

22nd October 2009 by Maura McHugh

The Eclipse, the supernatural drama written and directed by Conor McPherson, won the prestigious Melies D’Argent Award for Best European Motion Picture at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival in Spain, one of Europe’s largest fantasy and horror film festivals.

European Commisson Tackles Digitisation and Copyright

21st October 2009 by Maura McHugh

The European Commission had adopted a Communication on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy, which aims to tackle the issue of legal challenges of mass-scale digitisation and dissemination of books, particularly in relation to the European library collections.

The Communication was jointly drawn up by Commissioners Charlie McCreevy and Viviane Reding. Digital libraries such as Europeana will provide researchers and consumers across Europe with new ways to gain access to knowledge. For this, however, the EU will need to find a solution for orphan works, whose uncertain copyright status means they often cannot be digitised. Improving the distribution and availability of works for persons with disabilities, particularly the visually impaired, is another cornerstone of the Communication.

On adoption, Commissioners McCreevy and Reding stressed that the debate over the Google Books Settlement in the United States once again has shown that Europe could not afford to be left behind on the digital frontier.

“We must boost Europe as a centre of creativity and innovation. The vast heritage in Europe’s libraries cannot be left to languish but must be made accessible to our citizens”, Commissioner McCreevy, responsible for the Internal Market, stated.

Commissioner Reding, in charge of Information Society and Media, said: “Important digitisation efforts have already started all around the globe. Europe should seize this opportunity to take the lead, and to ensure that books digitisation takes place on the basis of European copyright law, and in full respect of Europe’s cultural diversity. Europe, with its rich cultural heritage, has most to offer and most to win from books digitisation. If we act swiftly, pro-competitive European solutions on books digitisation may well be sooner operational than the solutions presently envisaged under the Google Books Settlement in the United States.”

The Communication addresses the actions that the Commission intends to launch: digital preservation and dissemination of scholarly and cultural material and of orphan works, as well as access to knowledge for persons with disabilities. The challenges identified by the Commission today stem from last year’s public consultation on a Green Paper ( IP/08/1156 ), the Commission’s High Level Group on Digital Libraries and the experiences gained with Europe’s Digital Library Europeana (IP/09/1257).

The recent information hearings held by the Commission on the Google Books Settlement Agreement highlighted the anomalous situation that would arise were the

Settlement to be approved, namely that the vast number of European works in U.S. libraries that have been digitised by Google would only be available to consumers and researchers in the U.S. but not in Europe itself. Ensuring that Europeans are given access to their own cultural heritage, while European authors are fairly remunerated, is therefore of immediate concern and will require European responses, as recently stressed jointly by Commissioners Reding and McCreevy (MEMO/09/376)

Digital Preservation and Dissemination

The Commission will now engage in a stakeholder dialogue to find viable solutions for simple and cost-efficient rights clearance covering mass-scale digitisation and the online dissemination of library collections still protected by copyright. This concerns both out-of-print works and orphan works, i.e. works whose owner cannot be identified or located.

Orphan Works

The digitisation and dissemination of orphan works pose a particular cultural and economic challenge – the absence of a known rightholder means that users are unable to obtain the required authorisation, e.g. a book cannot be digitised. Orphan works represent a substantial part of the collections of Europe’s cultural institutions (e.g., the British Library estimates that 40 percent of its copyrighted collections are orphan 1 ). The Commission will now examine this phenomenon more in detail via an impact assessment. The aim is for an EU-wide solution to facilitate the digitisation and dissemination of orphan works and the establishment of common ‘due diligence’ standards to recognise orphan status across the EU. First progress in this respect has already been made by the ARROW (Accessible Registries of Rights information and Orphan works) project which gathers national libraries, collective management organisations and publishers and is co-funded by the European Commission under the eContent plus programme (€ 2.5 million). This project (launched in November 2008 ) is aimed at identifying rights holders and clarifying the rights status of a work, including whether it is out of print or orphan: “The EU-funded ARROW project is a first step to link Europe’s different rights registries and make it easier to identify rights holders,” said Commissioners Reding and McCreevy today: ” We call on national libraries, collective management organisations and publishers to build on this good start and work with the Commission to develop a pro-competitive and pan-European system of book registries that will allow for cross-border licensing under a transparent and affordable pricing system, while ensuring a fair remuneration of authors.”

Access for Persons with Disabilities

Persons with disabilities experience obstacles in accessing information. In particular, visually impaired people experience a “book famine” – only 5% of European publications are available in accessible formats, a situation compounded by restrictions on cross-border distribution, even between countries sharing a language. A stakeholder forum on the needs of disabled persons, in particular visually impaired persons, will examine policy responses, including ways to encourage the unencumbered EU trade of works in accessible formats.

Douglas Hyde Conference 2009

20th October 2009 by Maura McHugh

The Irish Times reported yesterday on the Douglas Hyde Conference 2009 that took place last weekend in Roscommon. Its theme was Culture and the Economy: Creativity and Innovation in Post Boom Ireland

The piece quotes from several of the conference speakers, such as Garry Hynes, founder and director of Druid Theatre Company, poet Alice Lyons, and our own David Kavanagh, chief executive of the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild.

Cinemagic Workshops

19th October 2009 by Maura McHugh

The Coca-Cola Cinemagic Film and Television Festival for Young People, which is taking place during from 18 November – 4th December 2009 in Belfast, is seeking young people aged 16-25 to participate in their ‘Talent Lab’ and Masterclass series – covering topics such as screen fighting, casting, makeup, production, acting and screenwriting amongst others.

The 2009 Masterclass lineup for the Cinemagic Festival includes: ‘Fights for Stage and Screen’ with Youngblood’s fight director Tim Klotz (Shakespeare’s Globe, Lyric Hammersmith, Royal Festival Hall); ‘Make-up for Film’ with Academy Award winning hair and make-up artist Christine Blundell (Topsy Turvy, Casino Royale, Sherlock Holmes); costume design guidance from Academy Award winning designer Jenny Beavan (A Room with a View, Gosford Park, Alexander); a script writing lesson with Ryan Rowe (Tapeheads, Run’s House, I’m on Fire); a film production session with Terry Bamber (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Phantom of the Opera) and David Cain (Thunderbirds, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Hannibal Rising), casting advice from casting director Ros Hubbard (The Commitments, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum), and location management pointers with Andrew Wilson (City of Ember, Middletown, Breakfast on Pluto).

Cinemagic are running other special events in November. Amongst these is an ‘In Conversation with’ session with Muppets Potto and Hilda on November 20th who will be screening ‘Sesame Tree’, the Northern Ireland adaptation of ‘Sesame Street’. There will also be an acting masterclass with IFTA winning actor Ciaran Hinds (The Eclipse) on November 23rd where the actor will deliver a practical workshop in acting for film. Another masterclass being held on the same day is the Channel 4 Programme Making Workshop, hosted by Neil McCallum (head of music at Channel 4) and other members of the Channel 4 Production Team, which aims to expand the skills of individuals who already have gained a degree of experience in areas such as presenting, producing and directing. The Channel 4 Programme making workshop will run for two days.

DEAF 2009

16th October 2009 by Maura McHugh

Next week see the launch of the eight Dublin Electronic Arts Festival (22 – 31st October, 2009).

DEAF’s focus is on the experimental, and the intersection between music, art, film and the public. It attempts to promote a genuine inclusiveness in its approach to showcasing the electronic arts to new audiences in Ireland.

The festival will be running films, workshops, gallery showings, talks and of course live gigs.