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Digitization Of Europe’s Film Heritage

World Trade – Film Industry

Open Eyes Opinion {source: EP}

European Parliament Think Tank

Digitization of Europe’s film heritage







EU film heritage covers over 120 years of cinema history and its technological evolution.

The recent digital shift has resulted in significant digitization of film production and distribution chains. Consequently, films produced on other formats (for example, 35mm film or magnetic recording) can only be accessed if appropriate screening equipment is preserved and operational, or the material is digitized.

This challenge has redefined the scope of the work and tasks performed by European film heritage institutions.

These, mostly publicly funded, bodies have a mission to preserve European films and make them accessible. The process of film heritage digitization comprises many stages, involving both technical and legal elements.

The legal issues include copyright clearance, which enables authors, producers and other rights-holders to receive payment for use or exploitation of their work.

Rights management systems vary considerably between EU Member States, as do the technical solutions applied for digitizing, preserving and making such digital content accessible.

These technical and legal disparities lead to difficulties and higher costs in cross-border or inter-institutional access to film heritage.

As these issues are common to all Member States, solutions at EU level could allow mass digitization of European film heritage, and improve the process, thus reducing costs.

Since 2000, the European Commission and the European Parliament, together with the Council, have supported moves to foster cooperation in this field. European funding is available to co-finance such efforts.

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Note: The featured photo of the Babelsberg Studio near Berlin was the first large-scale film studio in the world (founded 1912) and the forerunner to Hollywood. It still produces global blockbusters every year.

photo credits: “Filmstudio Babelsberg Eingang” by Unify – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –


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