As media and cinema scholars, educators, and University professors, either gathered here today in the XX Udine International Film Studies Conference, or later undersigning this declaration,
WE ARE CONCERNED
That films – intended in the broader possible sense, including feature-length and short fiction films, documentaries, newsreels and non-fictional works – are mostly unavailable to the public and are mostly unaccessible for research and educational purposes at all levels.
That this limitation in the number of works that are currently available – especially films produced in Europe and films which are older than ten years ago – seriously hinders our ability to educate new generations to Media and Film studies and deeply threatens the future of Europe as a knowledge-based society.
That this regrettable situation is only going to worsen as all analog materials (the thousands of prints conserved by archives all over Europe) will soon become unavailable as analog projection will disappear due to the expansion of digital cinema and other digital delivery platforms.
That, instead of seizing the opportunity offered by digital distribution channels to widen access to our European history and culture, we are in fact heading to the opposite direction, a new dark age.
That current legal situation at European and Member States level does not generally create a safe and clear framework in which we scholars, professors, educators and researchers are allowed to fulfill our mission by screening films for educational, research and training purposes in a classroom or in a research environment.
That, despite exceptions existing in some EU countries – and as such they should be considered best practices – the huge majority of existing national legislations does not allow the use of films for educational and research purposes and it actually limits its free use in research (as e.g. right of quotation) and/or in a teaching environments.
We strongly believe that a deeper understanding of Media and Cinema culture is essential in our society. We also strongly believe that by depriving European students and citizens of this educational opportunity, we are in fact limiting the future growth and new development opportunities of a creative and competitive Europe.
All responsible Ministries, legislation organs and institutions at Members States level, as well as the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament to act immediately in order to:
significantly increase the availability of European film heritage, for the wider public but also for research and educational purposes by fostering the digitization of European films and their diffusion;
create a clear and safe legal environment in which films can be freely used in the context of research and education at all levels, from primary schools to Universities.