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COVID-19-related resources brought to you by Dentons

As the entertainment industry in Canada and internationally struggles with the implications of dealing with COVID-19, we are entering uncharted territory. Beginning last week, major studios, streamers and broadcasters from around the world announced that they would be shutting down or suspending their productions in an effort to deal with the widening pandemic and slow its progress. Indie Wire online has provided a sobering summary of all of the productions impacted by COVID-19.

The situation is rapidly evolving and Dentons has established some resources for clients to provide helpful insights on COVID-19-related issues in a number of countries around the world. 

The Dentons Global COVID-19 hub can be found here – https://www.dentons.com/en/issues-and-opportunities/covid-19-coronavirus-hub

The Dentons Canada COVID-19 hub can be found here – https://www.dentons.com/en/issues-and-opportunities/covid-19-coronavirus-hub/canada-covid-19-coronavirus-hub

A recent article on the Dentons Canada COVID-19 hub may be useful to clients grappling with the issue of force majeure and whether COVID-19 qualifies as such an event. The article can be found here.

Another article on the Dentons Canada COVID-19 hub outlines the US travel restrictions for those clients with international ties. The article can be found here.

COVID-19-related resources brought to you by Dentons

Prime Time 2013 – News Flash

Today at the Prime Time Conference in Ottawa, Paul Calandra, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and a Member of Parliament announced the implementation of Canada’s policy on coproductions.
So at this point you may well be asking yourself, “Canada has a policy on coproductions?”, or “what is Canada’s policy on coproductions?”.  The answers to these questions are: yes, Canada does indeed have such a policy; and the policy can be found here.
The policy statement as set out recognizes the importance of treaty coproductions in strengthening Canada’s audiovisual infrastructure and sets the objective of making Canada the number one choice as a coproduction partner.   The recognition of the significance of coproductions and the goal set by the policy should not raise any objections – they are both correct and commendable.  
The policy enumerates certain guiding principles which will be used to achieve the objective of the policy.  These principles are flexibility, openness to renegotiation and negotiation of treaties, alignment of coproduction promotional activities and the simplifying of administrative processes.  Again, its hard to argue with these guiding principles – I know they would be welcome by many people in the production industry.
What remains to be seen is how the policy’s goal is achieved in practice, and whether these principles are in fact implemented for future productions.  It would be interesting if some sort of metrics were available in a year from now to measure any changes in the coproduction landscape as a result of the implementation of this policy.

 

Prime Time 2013 – News Flash

Streisand Strikes Again

An article in today’s Globe and Mail highlight’s the phenomenon that has become known as “The Streisand Effect“.

Its a great name – but it has less to do with singing than it does with managing publicity in today’s social media savvy world.  The origin of the Streisand Effect is described here  and here .   Essentially, it can be summed up as the failure of trying to reduce or suppress negative publicity – with the consequence being the thing you are trying to suppress actually gets more attention.  The role played by social media is fundamental to this phenomenon as it dramatically accelerates the spread of the subject information.

The most recent example of the Streisand Effect happened when Labatt Brewers of Canada threatened legal action against the Montreal Gazette for publishing a picture of suspected murderer Luka Magnotta brandishing a bottle of Labatt Blue.  As has happened in other situations, the threat of legal action was the spark that ignited a more widespread consideration of the offending picture, much to the dismay of Labatt.

The Globe article offers some very practical advice to others who may find themselves in Labatt’s position in the future.

The days of people cowering at the thought of receiving a threatening lawyer letter seem to be numbered….sadly for us lawyers….even less respect.

Streisand Strikes Again

UK To Introduce Tax Credits for TV, Video Games and Animation

 

This week, the UK government announced that it plans to offer tax credits to high end television productions, video games and animation.

After a successful campaign by industry stakeholders, the government has acknowledged that it needs to do something to keep the UK competitive with other jurisdictions, particularly in the area of television production which has not been eligible for any incentives – unlike film.  The film tax credit is generally acknowledged as being a success, and the hope is that this can be replicated in the areas of TV, video gaming and animation.

In the television sector, there was concern expressed by industry players that the lack of an incentive in the UK would mean the loss of productions to neighboring countries that did offer something.

The UK government  is planning to enter into industry consultations to determine how these proposed incentives will work, and it could be 10-12 months before legislation appears.

This announcement is also good news for international partners who wish to co-produce television productions with the UK, particularly Canadians who have a long history co-producing with their British colleagues.  However, since the elimination of the sale-leaseback structures for television in 2002, the level of  Canada-UK television productions has dropped, with the UK slack being taken up by other countries such as Ireland.

This announcement does provide a glimmer of hope that the future of Canada-UK co-productions may be different than the recent past, and that would be a good thing.

 

 

 

UK To Introduce Tax Credits for TV, Video Games and Animation

Co-Production Updates

Two items of note relating to the issue of international treaty co-productions which I believe indicate their re-emergence as a way of producing (especially in the current financial climate).

First, Telefilm Canada recently announced some changes to its Canada Feature Film Fund (“CFFF”) guidelines – and one in particular should be welcomed by the producers in this country who participate in international treaty co-productions which access the CFFF.

Prior to these announced changes, a project which received CFFF funding did so by way of a recoupable equity investment.  In exchange for making this recoupable equity investment, CFFF required that a portion of the copyright in the subject production be transferred to it.  In the context of an all-Canadian production, this was generally not a problem as the participants (distributors, bonders and financiers) had a very good sense of who and what CFFF (and Telefilm) was and their role in the industry.

However, in the case of international co-productions, the fact that the Canadian co-producer was transferring part of its copyright to a third party – and especially a Government body – did not always sit well with the other co-producers, and in some cases foreign lenders.  I have personally spent many hours on a number of files over the years explaining to these concerned parties the role of CFFF and Telefim, the rationale behind the taking of a copyright interest, and why such a thing should not cause the concerns it was causing.  In many of these cases, the issue was resolved with a combination of reassurance and a leap of faith.  However, in some cases, the issue went beyond faith and matters evolved (or devolved) into time consuming discussions on the importance of copyright in different jurisdictions – all of which was very intellectually stimulating to the lawyers, but did not go over too well with the clients.

The “fix” announced by Telefilm is something which seems to make complete sense and should be welcomed by most producers.  The CFFF investment can now be taken by producers as either : (i) a recoupable equity investment as was previously the case with an accompanying transfer of copyright; or (ii) a recoupable advance which eliminates the transfer of copyright.   The recoupment in either option is the same and remains unchanged i.e. a revenue corridor or open territories assigned to Telefilm.

One factor producers must evaluate in determining which option suits them is the potential impact on their tax credits- but beyond this issue, I believe that this change is a very helpful move by Telefilm.

On a related note, I recently participated in a panel in Berlin during the most recent edition of the Berlinale film festival.  The event was hosted by our friends at Unverzagt Von Have, a leading German media law firm and was extremely well attended with people from Europe, North America and Asia.  The panel focused on international co-productions and related developments in the UK, Canada, India and Poland.  Most of the participants prepared materials which can be found here.

The materials I prepared relating to Canada were: (i) an updated paper on co-producing with Canadians; and (ii) a short overview on the benefits of co-producing with Canada.

By Ken Dhaliwal

 

Co-Production Updates