Browse all

How is the protest by Italian actors against Netflix going?

The entire Italian film industry is going through a crisis

How is the protest by Italian actors against Netflix going? The entire Italian film industry is going through a crisis

In Italy, as well as in the United States and the rest of the world, famous actors represent only a small percentage of the category: most play small roles in film and television productions or in commercials. The earnings from individual engagements are generally low, but they are usually supplemented by royalties, which can cover a substantial part of actors' income. In the past, this compensation was based solely on television reruns, whereas today it necessarily includes the streaming sector. However, in this latter context, it is difficult to determine how many times each production has actually been viewed on various platforms. Copyright collecting societies therefore consider it essentially impossible to verify whether the compensation paid by platforms is truly adequate and proportionate to the actual exploitation of the works. Netflix discretionarily pays the economic compensation related to copyright, claiming to calculate it based on the viewing hours of individual content. However, it is difficult for an external organization to verify consumption data: mainly because many streaming platforms only partially disclose this information; the data, which tends to be very sporadic, often are also excessively generic – reporting only total viewing hours in the previous six months and not including past years. This is the same reason that last year led actors and screenwriters in Hollywood to strike for several months, with significant repercussions on the industry. Recently, several Italian actors have also been complaining about the same problem, leading the copyright collecting society Artisti 7607 (which represents, among others, Elio Germano, Valerio Mastandrea, Neri Marcorè, and Claudio Santamaria) to sue Netflix in the civil court of Rome.

What is the accusation against Netflix?

@yahoonews For the first time since 1960, actors and writers are on strike at the same time as they fight over contract negotiations with major #Hollywood studios. Among the key issues being negotiated is economic fairness for actors and writers, which has been exacerbated by streaming and the looming threat of AI to the industry. #news #writersstrike #wgastrike #sagaftrastrike #yahoonews original sound - Yahoo News

Founded in 2012, Artisti 7607 is a society that collects royalties on behalf of its members – over 3000 – deriving from copyright. For eight years, Artisti 7607 has been negotiating with Netflix to reach a fair and proportionate compensation concerning copyright, but the two parties have not yet reached an agreement. According to Artisti 7607, the platform violates the respective European and national regulations, while Netflix claims the opposite. The society that collects and redistributes copyright royalties for the most actors and voice actors in Italy is Nuovo IMAIE. Several years ago, the latter reached an economic agreement with Netflix deemed proportionate by both parties. However, Artisti 7607 considers this compromise inadequate. In this regard, actor and director Michele Riondino argues that «we are facing a system where platforms, without providing all the information required by law, make agreements at low prices and then try to impose the same figures on the entire market, thus keeping artists' compensation levels very low". Also, actor Neri Marcorè, speaking with Repubblica, described Artisti 7607's position as "necessary" and aimed at "defending the professional dignity [...] of the entire category».

The entire Italian film industry is in turmoil

Alongside the protest by Artisti 7607 against Netflix, there is a broader and heartfelt one by industry professionals and film productions. During the first quarter of 2024, the Italian film industry practically came to a halt due to delays in implementing public support measures for the sector by the current government, which had previously criticized certain industry financing mechanisms. This caused the postponement or cancellation of many productions, directly affecting workers – especially younger ones, who currently have few job prospects. For this reason, a crowded and important meeting was held in Rome at the beginning of April – already historic – named «We want there to be a tomorrow»: the event brought together the main trade associations of the Italian audiovisual industry, along with numerous directors, screenwriters, actors, technicians, and crew members, and was organized by labor unions to send a clear signal to the government, opening a window for dialogue. Today, Italy is the third-largest film market in Europe: it employs around 9 thousand businesses, totaling over 65 thousand jobs, and in 2022 generated revenue of €13 billion – it is estimated that for every euro invested, €3.5 was generated. Due to the blockage of public funds, many foreign productions have also chosen not to come to Italy to film, further reducing job prospects. The risk is that the country will become a less relevant player in the European and global film landscape.