Friday, December 30, 2005

Documentary Filmmakers Adopt Position on Fair Use

A broad coalition of groups influential in documentary filmmaking have come together to issue a joint statement as to what they consider acceptable practices when applying the Fair Use Doctrine to documentary films.

The Statement was authored by the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers; Independent Feature Project; International Documentary Association; National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture; and Women in Film and Video (Washington, D.C., chapter).

This important Statement will likely be considered by courts in resolving fair use disputes. It can be downloaded for free from the Center for Social Media

Many writers and filmmakers are confused about the fair use doctrine and whether they need permission to borrow from copyrighted works. Documentary filmmakers are often uncertain whether they can borrow, and how much they can borrow, to incorporate in their film without a license. Obviously, a filmmaker preparing an expose or even taking a critical look at a subject cannot expect the subject to grant them a license. Robert Greenwald is not going to get, nor did he even bother to ask, for permission from the Fox Network for inclusion of their television footage in his film “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism.”

If the fair use doctrine applies, no license is needed to borrow from a copyrighted work. It gives the public a limited right to draw upon copyrighted works to produce separate works of authorship. Such uses include fair comment and criticism, parody, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research. Thus, a movie or literary critic does not need permission to include a small quote from a work being reviewed. It is sometimes said of writers that if you borrow extensively from one author’s work, you are a thief; but if you borrow from hundreds, you are a scholar. Of course, the scholar adds value by synthesizing information from prior works and creating something new.

The Statement addresses common situations faced by filmmakers such as when can they quote works of popular culture without permission, and when will an incidental use of background music or visuals on a television set be considered a fair use.

In determining whether the use of a copyrighted work is fair use, courts weigh four factors:

1) The purpose and character of the work: A non-profit educational use is more likely to be considered a fair use than a commercial use. A commercial use is one that earns a profit.

2) The nature of the copyrighted work: There is greater public interest in allowing borrowing for scientific, biographical and historical works than for entertainment works.

3) The amount and substantiality of the portion borrowed in relation to copyrighted work as a whole: Taking one sentence from a five hundred page book is more likely to be considered a fair use than taking a sentence from a ten line poem.

4) The potential adverse effect on the market for, and value of, the copyrighted work: If borrowing from the copyrighted work harms the market for it, the use is less likely to be considered a fair use. Borrowing a sentence from a novel and incorporating it in another, completely different kind of work, such as a scholarly work, is unlikely to have any effect on sales of the novel. Likewise, borrowing from a book that is out of print is not likely to have an adverse impact on its sales.

In applying these factors to a specific factual situation, it can often be difficult to predict whether a use will fall within the doctrine. Generally speaking, a greater amount of material may be borrowed from non-fiction works than from fictional works. Clearly, a writer can borrow histori¬cal facts from a previous work without infringing upon the first author’s copyright, because of both the fair use doctrine and because historical facts are not copyrightable. Moreover, since factual works, unlike works of fiction, may be capable of being expressed in relatively few ways, only verbatim reproduction or close paraphrasing will be an infringement.

Writers should be more cautious in borrowing from novels and other fictional works. In one case, the author of the book “Welcome to Twin Peaks: A Complete Guide to Who’s Who and What’s What,” was found to have infringed the television series “Twin Peaks.” The book contained detailed plot summaries and extensive direct quotations of at least eighty-nine lines of dialogue.

One encounters a lot of grey areas in applying the fair use doctrine. It is safe to say that a schoolteacher will be protected if she photocopies a Newsweek article and distributes it to her class on one occasion. If the schoolteacher, however, photocopies an entire textbook and distributes it to her students in order to save them the expense of purchasing their own texts, this would not be a fair use. But there are many factual situations that lie between these two extremes; and in those cases it can be difficult to predict whether the fair use doctrine will be a good defense.Any source

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Analysis not matched by outcome

The UK Government produced a good critique of the CAP as part of its efforts to secure further reform in the EU budget negotitations. Unfortunately, it had little impact on the outcome. As The Economist has commented, 'Despite the promised review in 2098, the deal puts off any further serious reform of the CAP until 2013.'

Nevertheless, the key arguments are worth reproducing. The paper makes the key point that the reforms that have taken place so far are only partial for three main reasons:
1. A mass of market intervention and support measures remain in place
2. High tariffs, production quotas, set-aside, export subsidies (albeit now to be phased out by 2013), intervention purchase and other mechanisms distort markets
3. To many options remain for member states to continue with coupled direct production-linked payment schemes, albeit reduced in scale

The paper sees the capitalisation of subsidy and support values into the price of land as a major obstacle to change. Much of the money paid out doesn't benefit farmers because of capitalisation of land values and the charges of suppliers of other inputs. In France, for example, where much of the land is owned by non-farmers, the actual value of susbidies remaining with farmers is as low as 20 per cent of the original payment.

The paper also has a welcomed pop at the much repeated and rarely criticised argument about the environmental impact of 'food miles'. Research commissioned by Defra shows that the transport of imported agricultural produce by sea accounts for only 1.5 per cent of the total external costs associated with food transport to and within the UK. This is mainly because fewer long journeys of large ships replace many short journeys by HGVs. One might add that much of the global warming effect results from trips made by car to out-of-town supermarkets.

The paper argues that the challenge for the EU is to ensure that agriculture is treated no differently from other sectors of the economy. This is where there is a fundamental division between the UK and its opponents who argue that the CAP produces food security benefits, high quality food, preserves cherished landscape and maintains the fabric of rural society.

There is, perhaps, a tension here with the UK government's stated objective of an agriculture that is 'socially responsive to the needs of local communities.' That is where rural development policy comes in, but it has taken a hit under the budget agreement.Any source

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Matador Opens December 23

The Matador starring Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear and Hope Davis premieres in New York and Los Angeles on December 23. Written and Directed by our client Richard Shepard, the film was acquired at last year's Sundance Film Festival by Miramax.

The film will be released in other cities in January.

The Matador website:

Tactics and Strategy in Negotiating the Distribution Deal

By Mark Litwak
Attorney At Law

Many independent filmmakers are surprised at the amount of effort and skill required to secure an equitable distribution agreement. With the dramatic increase in independent production, it is apparent that many filmmakers have mastered the skills needed to secure the money and equipment needed to produce a film. The major obstacle facing many filmmakers is how to secure distribution for their motion picture.

This article explores the tactics and strategies that can be used to obtain a favorable distribution deal for the indie filmmaker.

In negotiating the distribution deal, the relative bargaining power of the parties is determined by the perceived desirability of the film and how much risk each party is willing to take. With a major studio project, the studio has often borne most, if not all, the financial risk. Typically, the studio pays for development, production and distribution. The director/producer is employed by the studio, receives a fee for his services, and may be entitled to a small share of net profits. "Net Profits," however, are defined so that there is little likelihood the employee will ever realize anything from this "back-end" compensation.

On the other hand, when a film is developed and produced by an independent Filmmaker, as an entrepreneur the filmmaker bears the risk of failure. Often the distributor will not have any involvement in the development of the script, or the production of the film. Since the distributor screens a completed work before deciding whether to acquire it, the distributor assumes less risk. The distributor knows exactly what it is obtaining. Consequently, if the Filmmaker has skillfully made a script into an appealing film, the filmmaker may be able to obtain a better deal. Under such a film acquisition agreement, the distributor may agree to share revenue according to a formula that will actually generate monies on the back end, assuming the distributor accounts fairly. If the filmmaker stumbles and creates a film with little appeal, however, no distributor may acquire it, and the loss will be borne entirely by the filmmaker and his investors.


When a distributor negotiates to acquire film rights, the distributor often has more clout than the filmmaker. This is a vulnerable position for the filmmaker. The filmmaker, or his representative, must know how to orchestrate the release of the film into the marketplace to achieve maximum leverage. This may entail generating competition through positive word of mouth within the industry. Such "buzz" or "heat" can be encouraged by filmmakers who work the festival circuit and mount a campaign on behalf of their film.

From the filmmaker's point of view, one will obtain a better deal if there is more than one distributor competing for the film. It is not difficult to alert acquisition executives to the existence of a film. Once a start date has been announced, filmmakers begin receiving calls. Acquisition executives track the progress of each film so that they can try to view it as soon as it is completed, and before their competitors see it.

To ensure that acquisition executives are aware of a film, one can send a press release announcing the project to the trade papers and magazines (Hollywood Reporter: (213) 525-2000, Daily Variety: (213) 857-6600, FILM MAKER: 213-932-6060, Moviemaker: 310-234-9234, The Independent: 212-807-1400). These publications will include your film in their listings of motion pictures in development, pre-production and production. Likewise, one should alert Film Finders at (310) 657-6397, a company that tracks films for many distributors.

Here are some other ways to create competition and maximize your leverage:

1) NO SNEAK PREVIEWS: Do not show your film to distributors until it is complete. Executives may ask to view a rough cut. They will assure the filmmaker, "Do not worry. We are professionals, we can extrapolate and envision what the film will look like with sound and titles." Do not believe them. Most people cannot extrapolate. They will view an unfinished film and think it amateurish. First impressions last. The community of acquisition executives is small, and they frequently mingle at screenings and festivals where they compare notes. One acquisition executive bad-mouthing your film, can cause a lot of damage.

The only reason to show an unfinished is if one is desperate to raise funds to complete it. The terms one can secure under these circumstances will be less advantageous than what could obtain for a finished film. If you must show a work-in-progress, exhibit it on a Moviola or flatbed editing table. People have lower expectations watching a film on an editing console than when it is projected in a theater. If you must send out cassettes of an unfinished film, prominently label it so that your viewers are reminded that they are seeing a work-in-progress.

2) SCREEN IT BEFORE A CROWD: It is usually better to invite executives to a screening than to send them a videocassette. If you send a tape to a busy executive, he will pop it in his VCR. Ten minutes later the phone rings and he hits the pause button. Then he watches another ten minutes until his secretary interrupts. After numerous distractions, he passes on the film because it is "too choppy."

You want the executive to view the film in a dark room, away from distractions, surrounded by a live audience enjoying the film. You can rent a screening room at Paramount or other convenient locations, invite all the acquisition executives you can, and pack the rest of the theater with friends and relatives.

Perhaps the best venue to exhibit a picture is at an important film festival. If the film is warmly received, your bargaining position will be enhanced. Another benefit of a festival showing is that it may generate positive reviews. Most publications have a policy of only reviewing films about to be released theatrically. Films seeking distribution are not reviewed. But trade papers and selected publications review films exhibited at major festivals. A positive review can influence distributors.

When you prepare an invitation list, include only those distributors appropriate for the film. If foreign rights are taken, there is no reason to invite foreign sales companies. You are being inconsiderate by wasting their time. Likewise, do not invite an art house distributor to view a beach blanket bingo movie. As soon as the acquisition executive realizes that your film is not for him, he will depart. Do you think a stream of people leaving might adversely affect the perceptions of the rest of the audience?

3) MAKE THE BUYERS COMPETE AGAINST EACH OTHER: Screen the film at the same time for all distributors. Some executives will attempt to get an early look -- that is their job. The filmmaker's goal is to keep potential distributors intrigued. You can promise to let each see it "as soon as it is finished." They may be annoyed to see their competitors at the first screening. But this will get their competitive juices flowing.

Some diplomacy is required to orchestrate a bidding war and not alienate the bidders. You want to firmly push each potential buyer to offer their best terms while maintaining cordial relations with all. Remember, you may want to produce your next project with one of the losers.

4) DO NOT GIVE AWAY YOUR FESTIVAL PREMIER LIGHTLY: Carefully plan a festival strategy. I have seen filmmakers give away their premier to minor festivals and thereby disqualify themselves from participating in major ones. You can participate in lesser festivals later. There is little reason not to apply to a festival if you think you have a chance to participate. If you are not accepted, the buyers will not know unless you tell them.

5) SELL YOUR FILM WHEN BUYERS ARE HUNGRY FOR PRODUCT: Distributors that acquire films for foreign distribution plan their activities around a market calendar. The major film markets are 1) AFM in the fall, 2) Berlin in February, and 3) Cannes in May in Cannes, France. In addition there are a number of important television markets including NATPE in the U.S., and MIP and MIP-COM in France.

Distributors are hungriest for product before a rapidly approaching market when they do not have enough new inventory. A distributor may spend $90,000 or more to attend Cannes, and if it appears the company will have nothing new to sell, panic sets in.. This is the best time to approach a distributor. Do not wait until a week before a market, however, because you need to give distributors enough time to prepare for it. They may need to create a trailer, one-sheet, poster, screeners and advertising. The bumper editions of the trade papers have an ad deadline that is 3-4 weeks before a market. These expanded editions contain product listings by distributor, as well as extensive advertising. The best time to approach distributors is 60-90 days before a market. Assuming a distributor wants your film, it may take a month or more to negotiate the deal.


Investigate the Distributor

Always check the track record and experience of potential distributors. Industry insiders know the reputations of executives and their companies. It is newcomers who are most likely to be taken advantage of.

Ask a prospective distributor to send you their press kit. It will likely contain one-sheets from the films they have distributed. Examine the credits. Track down the filmmakers. If you cannot find them, simply ask the distributor for a list of all the filmmakers they have done business with over the past two years. Call the filmmakers. Ask them specific questions: Did they receive timely producer reports? Have they been paid what they are due? Did the distributor spend the promotional dollars promised?

I have established the Filmmaker's Clearinghouse on my website ( The Clearinghouse provides filmmakers with information on distributors similar to what the Better Business Bureau reports on merchants.



The territory is the country or region where the distributor may exploit the film. Worldwide rights mean that the distributor has the right to distribute the film in any country in the world. Some distributors go further and seek rights throughout the "Universe." To my knowledge, no sales have been made to moviegoers on other planets. I once kidded a distribution executive that it was silly to ask for such rights. He conceded that it was unlikely his company would ever need rights beyond Earth. Several weeks later, however, he showed me a fax he had received from NASA asking for permission to exhibit one of his films on the Space Shuttle.
Independent filmmakers frequently enter into more than one distribution deal.

Rights are typically divided into two territories: Domestic and Foreign. Domestic is the United States and English-speaking Canada. Sometimes it may include all of Canada. It may include U.S. territories, possession's & military bases. Foreign rights are usually defined as the rest of the world.

As a general rule, filmmakers should only grant a distributor rights to territories they directly service. Few distributors, other than major studios, serve both the foreign and domestic market. Even the majors use sub distributors in smaller territories. Nevertheless, distributors often try to acquire as much territory and media as they can. They will lay off rights on sub distributors, and take a fee for serving as the middle man.

Most companies that distribute domestically do not participate in international film markets. If you grant such a distributor worldwide rights, they will make a deal with a foreign distributor to handle international sales. This foreign sales company will deduct a distribution fee for its services, and from the remaining amount, the domestic distributor may take a fee as well.

This is not to say that you should never allow a distributor to use sub-distributors. But one needs to understand the kind of distributor you are dealing with, and how it plans to exploit your film. Filmmakers should always determine which media and territories a distributor handles itself, and which it lays off on other companies. Labels can be confusing. Some distributors who sell films internationally call themselves "foreign sales agents." Others prefer to be known as "international distributors." The problem of double-distribution fees can be ameliorated by placing caps on the total fees the distributor and sub-distributors may take.

Most indie filmmakers contract with a foreign sales agent, or international distributor, to take their film to the major international markets. The filmmaker will also contract with one or more domestic companies. If the film does not have any name-actors in the cast, the filmmaker may not be able to obtain a domestic theatrical release. In such a situation, the filmmaker will contract with companies that serve the television and home video markets. Care must be taken in structuring these deals so that their terms do not conflict.

Filmmakers may benefit by contracting with more than one distributor. First, the filmmaker is not putting all his eggs in one basket. If he has one distributor, and it goes bankrupt, all potential revenue is affected. Second, by using different distributors, expenses in one territory will not be cross-collateralized against revenues from another.

When expenses are cross-collateralized, expenses and revenue from different territories are pooled. For example, suppose a film generates revenue of one million dollars abroad. The distributor has incurred $100,000 in recoupable expenses. The distributor is entitled to retain 20% of gross revenues, or $200,000, as a distribution fee. The remaining $700,000 is the filmmaker's share of revenue.

But suppose that in the domestic territory, this film generated 1 million dollars in revenue, and incurred expenses and distribution fees of $1.5 million. So on the domestic side of the ledger, the distributor has a net loss. If the filmmaker has a single distributor for foreign and domestic territories, the distributor can recoup its $500,000 domestic loss from the foreign profit.

Not only can expenses from one territory be crossed against others, but expenses in one media can be crossed against revenues from another. In many instances, a distributor will lose money on a picture's theatrical release and will want to recoup those losses from revenue generated from home video and television.

The remainder of this articles is posted on the Entertainment Law Resources website:

Full Article:

Any source

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Big farms still take biggest share of the loot

A small handful of big farms received a big proportion of EU direct aid payments under the old CAP regime according to recently released Commisson figures. Of the €27.2 billion in subsidies paid out to some 5.2 million EU farmers in 2002, over €1 billion was handed out to just 1,140 large farms. And each of these fortunate recipients received over €500,000 each.

Germany had the highest number of farms receiving payments of over €0.5 million each with 960 farmers receiving €0.9 billion between them. This reflects the survival in private hands of what were big collective farms in the former East Germany. At the other end of the scale, well over half the farms receiving CAP aid in 2002 (some 2.9 million) received annual aid cheques of less than €1,250. Of these farms, 2.3 million were situtaed in either Italy, Greece or Spain.

The largest overall recipient of direct aid continued to be France which received €6.9 billion in 2002. Of this amount, €2.6 million was shared out between fewer than ten of the biggest farms. It is sometimes forgotten that France is not a land of peasants or even medium-sized family farms, but has some very big agribusinesses.

We have heard of a new webiste that aims to give detailed information about the recipients of EU farms subsidies. Visit Subsidies .Any source

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

“Survivor” Survives Trademark Infringement Suit Brought by Beach-Themed Product Creator

The company behind Surfvivor, a trademark for beach-themed products, sued the creators of the reality television show “Survivor” for trademark infringement. Despite the confusion reported by Surfvivor that some entities had in the marketplace, the Federal District Court granted summary judgment in favor of “Survivor” and dismissed the case. The Court found that the marks were not similar enough to cause consumer confusion.

Surfvivor appealed immediately, but its action did not survive for long. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s ruling. The Court of Appeal based its opinion on two strands of thought. First, the Court concluded that no actual confusion existed between the two trademarks. If nearly all of the customers and retailers had no confusion, then “customers were not likely to associate the two products or conclude [they] came from the same source.”

Second, the Court reasoned that Surfvivor did not suffer any damages. For example, no merchants stopped doing business with Surfvivor due to any confusion.

Surfvivor Media, Inc. v. Survivor Productions, 406 F.3d 625, 2005 U.S.App.LEXIS 7688 (9th Cir. 2005).

Right of Publicity Does Not Cover the Same Subject Matter as Copyright

A model, June Toney, signed a contract for her photo to be used by Ultra Sheen Supreme Shampoo. The contract ended in November 2005, but Ultra Sheen continued to use Toney’s photo. Toney brought suit under an Illinois right of publicity statute.

The Federal District Court dismissed her suit based on a section of the Federal Copyright Act that preempts state law claims if the subject matter is covered under the Copyright Act itself. The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal.

But Toney was not through. She petitioned the Court of Appeals for a rehearing and the Court reversed its previous ruling. The Court reasoned that the Illinois statute protects a person’s “identity,” while the Copyright Act applies to creative works that are fixed in a tangible medium. The Court wrote, “Toney’s identity is not fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” The subject matter was not the same, and therefore not covered under the Copyright Act.

Furthermore, the Court found another distinction. The Illinois statute protects the right to control the commercial value of a person’s identity. The Copyright Act, in contrast, protects the right to reproduce and perform works.

The case was remanded to the District Court to proceed on the right of publicity claim.

Toney v. L’Oreal USA, Inc., 406 F.3d 905, 2005 U.S.App.LEXIS 7897 (7th Cir. 2005).Any source

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sweeteners lead to sugar deal

In a rare success for the UK presidency, EU farm ministers have agreed to a reformed sugar regime to operate from next July. Sufficient sweeteners had to be offered to the most vociferous opponents to get them to accept a deal, although one had to be reached before too long given the WTO deadline of next May and the fact that the regime itself would expire in the summer.

Ministers agreed to a slight cut in the depth of the price cut, and to an increase in the rate of compensation. The European Commission and ministers compromised on a 36% cut in the price of sugar (a relative marginal reduction in the original figure of 39%), and a 4.2% increase in compensation for farmers. They will thus now receive compensation covering 64.2% of the loss incurred by the price cut. There is a also a more generous compensation scheme for inefficient European sugar producers who will be forced to halt production because of the price drop. Extra compensation will be given to farmers in countries that give up 50 per cent of their production, a move that will principally benefit Italy and Spain.

Finland benefits from a special deal that allows beet farmers in one of the least competitive sugar producer countries in Europe a special aid of €350m so they can continue supplying he one remaining beet producer in the country. Why not import sugar from elsewhere which is what mostly happens anyway.

However, these side payments should not distract attention from a substantial reduction in the guaranteed price. In other words, a deal has been struck that will not bust the budget or fail to curb uneconomic production in the sector.

The new compromise proposal – the second to be tabled at this week's EU farm Council – offers significant sweeteners for various countries, in particular Italy, one of the most vociferous opponents of the reform. Poland, Latvia and Greece still refused to endorse the compromise. The producer price for sugar will be reduced in four stages, with a cumulative reduction over four years of 20%, 25%, 30% and 36%.

The deal has come under criticism from both third world NGOs and industrial suger users. Some development experts suggested that the EU had been forced to offer more compensation to inefficient European farmers at the expense of their more vulnerable sugar cane rivals. 'Developing countries have been sacrificed in order for Europe to reach a deal', said Luis Morago, head of Oxfam International in Brussels.

The UK Industrial Sugar Users Group deplored last-minute concessions that would still leave the EU price about double that in the rest of the world. 'This deal takes the easy way out by simply dumping increased compensation costs on consumers and industrial users.' In fact the EU internal reference price will be €404 per tonne, about 40 per cent above the current spot price. Moreover, the world price could rise if uneconomic EU production is withdrawn and bioethanol actually takes off in a significant way.

For all the criticism, the deal was probably as good as could be obtained given the opposition and will bolster the EU's position in world trade talks.Any source

Friday, November 18, 2005

“Wife Swap” Producer May Proceed with Copyright Infringement Claim Against “Trading Spouses”

RDF Media produced a reality television show called “Wife Swap” that was aired on ABC in May 2004. Shortly after its airing, Fox Broadcasting ran a similar show called “Trading Spouses.” RDF brought suit based on two claims: copyright and trade dress infringement. Fox filed a motion to dismiss all of RDF’s claims.

In response to Fox’s motion, the Federal District Court Judge dismissed RDF’s trade dress claim because a television show itself could not be a trademark. The Court reasoned, “Trademark is concerned with the protection of symbols or elements; it does not protect the content of a creative work of artistic expression as a trademark for itself.”

RDG’s copyright claim withstood Fox’s motion to dismiss. RDF had filed the complaint before all of its episodes had been registered with the Copyright Office. The Court concluded that because the errant registrations were filed by the time the motion was heard no basis existed for dismissing the copyright claim.

RDF Media Limited v. Fox Broadcasting Company, 372 F. Supp.2d 556, 2005 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 12923 (C.D.Cal. 2005).

San Francisco’s Film Art’s Foundation to offer Self Defense Seminar December 10

Writers, directors, and producers must understand their legal rights and how to defend themselves against exploitation by production and distribution companies. In this intensive seminar, filmmakers learn how to anticipate problems before they arise in negotiations and create incentives that encourage companies to live up to their agreements, including performance incentives, default penalties, and arbitration clauses. In the event of an un-resolvable dispute, participants learn what remedies are available to enforce their rights.

Mark Litwak is a veteran entertainment attorney with offices in Beverly Hills, California. He writes a monthly syndicated column that appears on the Film Arts Web site as "The Litwak Files," and is the author of six books, including Reel Power, The Struggle for Influence and Success in the New Hollywood, Courtroom Crusaders, Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry (winner of the 1995 Krazna-Krausz Book Award), Contracts for the Film and Television Industry, and Risky Business. He is the author of the popular CD-ROM program Movie Magic Contracts. In addition, Litwak is a producer's rep, assisting filmmakers in the financing, marketing and distribution of their films.

Self-Defense for Independent Filmmakers: Protecting Your Legal Rights
Sat Dec 10th from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

$95/Filmmaker-level members; $145/others.
Film Arts Foundation
145 9th Street, #101
San Francisco, CA, 94103

Call (415) 552-8760 to sign up or for questions or email education@filmarts.orgAny source

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Changing shape of budget

The CAP budget for agricultural markets and the SFP has been scaled back to a mere €43,280 million in 2006, or €51,051 million when one adds in rural development. However, it is the composition of the budget that is in some ways more interesting. Of course, by far the greater part these days goes on direct aids to farmers (€34,817m).

If one looks at the market support budget, the largest budget line is now for fruit and vegetables at €1,544m, followed by €1,494m for the wine lake and €1376m for sugar. 'Textile plants', effectively cotton subsidies, come fourth at €969m: these are, of course, very controversial in the current WTO talks in terms of their impact on poor West African countries.

Milk products and cereals, once the biggest items, now come 5th and 6th respectively, although it should be remembered that payments now largely take the form of direct aids.Any source

DG Agri has a French head again

For a long time, DG-Agri was known as a French fiefdom with a French head of the bureaucracy, many French and Francophone staff and even a canteen that was supposed to serve the best food in the Commission! For some time now DG Agri has had a Spanish head, but on 1 January he will be replaced one of his deputies, French national Jean-Luc Demarty.

However, this may not be a sign of a return to old style agricultural politics. An alternative view is that it reflects the decreased significance of DG Agri with the real power over the future of Europe's farmers now in the hands of DG Trade. Indeed, Le Figaro has claimed that Paris lobbied without success to get a French head of trade - the job has gone to Irishman David O'Sullivan.Any source

Monday, November 7, 2005


Drawn directly from Henry Mayhew’s investigations into working class life in mid-nineteenth century London, Seed’s poems are extracted from the testimonies of working men & women as mediated by Henry Mayhew’s journalistic accounts. Every word, according to Seed, is drawn from “the thousands of printed pages of Mayhew’s investigations” which were published first in the Morning Chronicle between 1849 & 1850 and then in Mayhew’s own weekly, London Labour and the London Poor.

The transnational, transhistorical contemporaneity of these testimonies—presently evident in the riots in France & very recently in the visibility of American poverty in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina—is uncanny. Despite the substantial spatial & temporal remove from Mayhew’s investigations, the words of the London poor are exceedingly present. The collection begins with a preface which is at once encouragement & admonishment. The preface is an appeal to the privileged reader to enter into the world of London’s working poor, but the appeal is wrapped round a warning:

If you was to go to
the raffle tonight sir they’d say
directly you come in who’s this
here swell what’s he want they’d
think you were a cad or
spy come from the police but
they’d treat you civilly some would
fancy you was a fast kind
of a gentleman come there for
a lark but you need have
no fear though the pint pots
does fly about sometimes

From the get go the narrator, whose sex is difficult to determine, addresses whomever s/he is speaking to as a person of privilege. If the narrator is in fact addressing the reader, Seed is clearly aware that anyone reading these poems will be, by default, not a member of the working poor. Exceptions would do nothing more than prove the rule. Contemporary poetry, published independently by small presses, does not sell well in working class neighborhoods. In fact, contemporary poetry, in limited press runs, can scarcely ever be found in working class neighborhoods. Thus the reader enters into the world of the working poor from an external, privileged position much like Mayhew himself did.

This is very much the case with the riots currently raging in France. Unless we are immediately involved in the riots, they come to us only through mediated images & text, through journalistic accounts which have passed through various written stages & then various editors. We enter into the tumult externally, through an unbridgeable remove. & aside from a handful of reports, very little attention has been given to the riots in mainstream American media. The visibility of these riots is exceedingly limited.

Reports in the NY Times maintain that dozens of buildings, many host to privately owned businesses, and more than 3,300 vehicles have been destroyed in the largest upheaval in France since 1968. Unlike the student riots of 1968, the current unrest appears to bear a much closer kinship to the LA Riots, a situation similarly precipitated by a seemingly isolated incident & then fueled by a deeply-seated frustration & rage. The rage expressed in the current riots in France far exceeds the precipitating incident & is clearly symptomatic of more firmly entrenched, systemic social inequalities.

Participants in the rioting are largely second & third generation immigrants from North & West Africa, many of whom are Arab Muslims. The rioting began nearly two weeks ago in Clichy-sous-Bois, a working class suburb on the outskirts of Paris, when two boys of Maritanian & Tunisian descent running from police hid in an electrical substation & were subsequently electrocuted. The rioting has since spread not only to the center of Paris but also Toulouse, Nice, Marseille, Lille & Strasbourg. The unemployment rate in many of the areas where rioting is most fierce is double & even triple the national ten percent. To peer through a highly mediated window & catch a glimpse of working class life in France now is undoubtedly to bear witness to a world where the pint pots are flying about wildly, with much greater ferocity than usual.

Our access to the upheaval in France is much like our access to the London poor of the mid nineteenth century: it is purely textual, mediated through carefully selected images & journalistic accounts. As Guy Debord declared over thirty years ago, “the spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among persons, mediated by images.” In culling from & restructuring the past--inasmuch as the past is represented in & by various texts, each text nothing more than an incomplete fragment--Seed’s work appears to be an attempt to restructure the social relation among persons, a relation otherwise constructed by institutional power. Seed appropriates Mayhew’s investigations &, rather than adding to them & commenting on them, he rearranges them, edits them, drawing from them that which is contemporary, that which transcends the temporal & spatial remove. The appropriation & arrangement of text is, itself, Seed’s commentary. In this Seed seems to be in accordance with Debord’s well-known claim: “Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It clings to an author’s phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea, replaces it with the right idea.” The distinction made by Debord between right & wrong here is undoubtedly understood by Seed.

Having extracted a modest handful of passages from thousands of pages of Mayhew’s investigations, Seed is foregrounding those few moments contained in images & bits of text that speak most clearly to that zeitgeist of a civilization which is most often concealed. The fragments selected by Seed are much like Pound’s luminous details, details universal & static in their contemporaneity. While Pound found these details in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood & the Troubadours of Southern France (among dozens of other places but never in poverty) Seed finds these details in the working poor of nineteenth century London. & just as Pound offered us a Homer mediated by Andreas Divas, a Li Po mediated by the Japanese, Seed offers us the working poor via Henry Mayhew. Like Pound, Seed has carefully selected the intermediary source through which he procures his luminous detail & his source is no less saturated with ideology.

Among the many voices which emerge in these poems, one man comments on the game of chess. The dialect is clearly a working class dialect & the narrator confesses he knows nothing about the game:

I’ve seen chess played & I should
say it’s a rum game but I
know nothing about it I once had
a old gent for a customer &
he was as nice & quiet as a
old gent as could be & I
always called on him when I thought
I had a curus or old teacaddy or
knifebox or anything that way he didn’t
buy once in twenty calls but he
always gave me something for my trouble
he used to play at chess with
another old gent & if after his
servant had told him I’d come I
waited ’til I could wait no longer
& then knocked at his room door
he swore like a trooper

It is difficult for me to think of anything here but Pound’s “Dogmatic Statement on the Game and Play of Chess.” It is through the game of chess that Pound hopes to illustrate the Vorticist approach to painting, yet Pound moves from the assumption that the reader is familiar with the game. Of course, he’s right. If you’re reading Pound you’re probably familiar with chess, especially if you were reading Pound in 1915 when the poem was first published. Seed’s poem, however, underscores that divide between those who are & aren’t familiar with chess, indicating that chess, as a game not allegory, is something bound to a particular social class as well as a game foreign to a social class.

Strongly informed by the Objectivist tradition, Seed is acutely aware of the way in which the passages appropriated from Mayhew come together to form the colloquial, idiomatic rhythms specific to a particular group of people at a particular moment in time. But it is within these rhythms that we are able to extrapolate those details which are forever present, forever contemporary. The “costermongers, coalheavers, sewermen, seamstresses, soldiers, shopkeepers, domestic servants, old-clothes dealers, rag-and-bone men, petty thieves, prostitutes, street people and casual workers of all kinds, old an young, male and female, thousands of unnamed and unremembered people of mid-nineteenth-century London” which populate the poems are very much here & very much now, despite a superficial otherness. Undoubtedly, the working poor that people Seeds poems bear a peculiar kinship with the men & women currently rioting in France, with the men & women herded into stadiums as a result of Hurricane Katrina, indeed with anyone living on the outskirts of highly mediated texts & images in abject poverty.
Any source


The Puerto Rico chapter of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers Association (NALIP), in conjunction with the San Juan Cinemafest and the Puerto Rico Film Corporation, will sponsor a full day of free panels on feature film pitching, finance, and distribution for indie filmmakers, beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday, November 10, at the Normandie Hotel in San Juan, according to Frances Lausell, president of NALIP-PR.

Participants will include NALIP Executive Director and independent producer Kathryn Galán, veteran entertainment attorney and producers’ representative Mark Litwak, long-time personal manager and award-winning producer Marilyn Atlas, financing executive Pamela Peak, and Venevisión International Film and Theater Division Manager Julio Noriega.

Kathryn Galán has established NALIP as the preeminent national Latino media organization in the U.S., dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of Latino/a film, television and documentary projects by supporting Latino/a writers, producers, directors and creative talent and advocating on their behalf. NALIP runs regional programs plus four national Signature programs: the Latino Writers Lab™ held in New York each spring and Santa Monica, California each fall; the intensive 10-day Latino Producers Academy™ held in Tucson, Arizona each summer; a national Conference that welcomes over 600 makers and funders each spring, and the Latino Media Resource Guide™, the go-to source for information on Latino directors, writers, producers, craftspersons, funders, diversity opportunities, distributors, and film programs.

Mark Litwak’s entertainment law practice includes work in the areas of copyright, trademark, contract, multimedia law, intellectual property, and book publishing (“Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry,” “Risky Business: Financing and Distribution of Independent Film”). As a producers’ rep, Litwak assists filmmakers in the marketing and distribution of their films through such renowned film festivals as Cannes, Toronto, Telluride, and others. At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, three of his clients had films acquired for distribution: HUSTLE & FLOW, which won the Audience Award (Paramount), THE MATADOR (Miramax), and MARILYN HOTCHKISS BALLROOM DANCING AND CHARM SCHOOL (Goldwyn).

Equally at home in the worlds of film, television, and live theater, Marilyn Atlas is a founding member of Women in Film’s Luminas Committee, which supports the portrayal of women in non-stereotypical roles in film and television, and is committed to finding projects that reflect diversity and non-stereotypical characters. Among her credits as a film producer are REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES for HBO, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, A CERTAIN DESIRE, starring Sam Waterston, and ECHOES, which won the Gold Award at the Texas International Film Festival.

Julio Noriega heads up the film and theatrical division for Venevisión International, which over the past 30 years has been one of the most important providers of Spanish language programming for Latin America and the world, positioning its productions in more than 20 languages and currently reaching 97% of the entire U.S. Latino population, thanks to its association with Univisión Communications.

“NALIP-PR’s mission is to help develop and expand Puerto Rico’s film industry and film community,” said Lausell. “By organizing activities such as this one, we hope to provide an opportunity for local filmmakers to obtain practical information directly from working professionals in the industry, as well as a giving them a chance to network and establish contacts which could prove of great value in the future.”

Contact: Frances Lausell
Phone: 787-268-0063
Cell Phone: 787-640-5290

Mark Litwak's book "Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry, 2nd Edition" has been republished in Korea by Easy Books. We have a limited number of these books for sale at $25 plus shipping. Call (310) 859 9595 if you would like to purchase one.

Dealmaking is the first self-defense book for everyone working in the film and television industry, addressing a general, non-attorney readership, it is a fascinating, highly accessible and practical guide to current entertainment law peculiarities and "creative" practices. Armed with this book, filmmakers can save themselves thousands of dollars in legal fees as they navigate the entertainment business's shark-infested waters. Whether you are a professional or wannabe producer, writer, director, or actor, this book can help you make the most of your business dealings while steering you clear of contractual traps. The second edition of this popular book contains hundreds of updates and revisions of the first edition and includes two new chapters: Legal Remedies and Retaining Attorneys, Agents, and Managers.Any source

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Where does the CAP cash go?

In a letter to European Voice CAP campaigner Terry Wynn MEP points out that little information is made available on who gets the large sums of money spent on CAP. Only Denmark, the UK, Estonia, Sweden and Slovenia (now joined by Belgium) make the information available.

When it is made available, it is quite revealing. Wynn points out that UK figures show that Lincolnshire receives three times more in agricultural subsidies than the north-west of England combined and has only a third of the number of farms. He points out that there is no disclosure of where the money goes in France despite the fact that it receives a quarter of CAP expenditure.

The Belgian payment agency, BIRB, has now posted details of the recepients of CAP money. At the top of the list is the sugar refinery in Tienen which received €91.9 million in 2004. At the bottom is the Sacred Heart pyschiatric hospital in Ypres which received €148.70.

There was considerable political resistance to the publication of the information. The agriculture minister in the federal government is Sabine Laruelle, a Walloon Liberal, who happens to be a former president of the Walloon farmers' union. She said she would not release names and amounts and that what was happening 'leads only to a witch hunt', pointing out that 'People focus on examples such as the Queen of England.'

Meanwhile, Yves Leterme, the Christian Democrat head of the Flemish regional government complained about efforts by commissioners Fischer Boel and Slim Kallas (audit and anti-fraud) to get national governments to disclose who gets what from the CAP regime. Leterme said that if the Commissioners were minded to make statements 'which intrude against our constitutional rights to the protection of privacy, then they had better keep their mouths shut.' However, Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt decided in favour of disclosure.

This is public money and EU citizens are entitled to know where it is going. Publication may also serve as a deterrent to fraud which remains a persistent problem in the CAP.Any source

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Group opposed to sugar reform grows

Poland has joined the eleven countries led by Spain who are opposed to the Commission's proposals for reform of the sugar regime. Just four of the opposing countries - Greece, Italy, Poland and Spain - would be enough to block reform under the qualified majority system.

This latest development is causing concern in the Commission and the UK presidency. The WTO has declared the current regime illegal and the current regulation expires next June which would lead to chaos if nothing is put in its place.

The Commission has to think of some way of buying off opposition without rendering the whole reform pointless. The opposing states are calling for smaller price cuts over a longer period with more compensation and it is difficult to see how this can be squared with the WTO judgement or the EU budget.

It might be possible to include the option of partial decoupling for states such as Italy who feel they are worst hit by the price reduction, although it is questionable whether keeping small Italian sugar producers in business is compatible with the spirit of the reform. Certainly national compensation envelopes for sugar producers are still under consideration, but the sweetener would have to be significant.

A further complicating factor is that the opposition countries are suggesting that cuts should be applied initially just to regions with a surplus of production. If one interprets that as countries with B quotas, leading sugar producers would be hit, notably France and Germany where up to 20 per cent of overall production quotas are B quotas.

So this is all about winners and losers rather than a rational reform strategy that would be helpful for the EU as a whole. As June approaches, no doubt some sort of reform, with more side payments, will be devised.Any source

Bulgaria, Romania accession in trouble

Preparations for integration into the CAP remain 'areas of serious concern' for both Bulgaria and Romania just fourteen months away from their planned accession to the EU. To those who say cynically 'we have been here before', noting that outstanding problems when ten member states joined were glossed over, two points need to be borne in mind:

1. The EU is a much less confident and ferbile state following the effective failure of the Constitution
2. The problems with Bulgaria and Romania are more serious than those in the earlier wave of East European entrants.

Food safety is a major area of concern, with the Commission noting deficiencies in both countries in terms of animal disease control and regulations relating to BSE. Romania has made a little more progress in some areas, but both countries have failed to make progress in setting up an Integrated Administration and Control System.

The tone of the Commission report suggests that the warnings issued may be more than the usual routine pleas to get a move on. The situation is to be reviewed in April/May of next year when the postponement of accession by one year may be recommended.Any source

Sunday, October 30, 2005

French play food securirty card

Peter Mandelson is caught between a rock and a hard place in trying to reach agreement in the Doha Round agricultural trade negotiations. On the one hand, he has to move towards the negotiating demands of the US (and the G-20). On the other, he has to avoid annoying France so much that it derails the whole negotiation and hence the Doha Round. The EU has now made a new set of concessions, but they may be too little for the US and too much for France.

France has wheeled out their finance minister, Thierry Breton, to defend the CAP in an interview in the Financial Times. This is a smart move as he is an avowed moderniser who formed his own software company in 1981, before running a science park and then taking charge of high tech groups Bull, Thompson and France Telecom.

But he insists that the CAP is essential for Europe's future and must not be sacrificed at the altar of the WTO. He challenges Tony Blair's description of the CAP as 'spending of the past', describing it as a modern, forward-looking policy, essential for safeguarding the security of Europe's food chain.

He claims that Europe has developed one of the best - and safest - agricultural systems in the world. 'There is no magic here: we have decided to put our money together to build this infrastructure.' He argues that anyone who thinks agriculture is a market like any other is 'old-fashioned', as they ignore growing risks to food security.

He seems to think that the growing world population poses a problem in terms of producing enough food, although this is partly a question of what limits are placed on the introduction of new technology. It is also the case that in the west people are consuming more food than is good for their health or at least food of the wrong kind.

It is the case that agricultural markets have their own special features ('cobweb cycles' etc.) and this is why one does need some stabilisation mechanisms, although these might be provided more efficiently by state guaranteed insurance arrangements rather than by subsidies.

Breton argues that we must protect food security 'at all costs' otherwise 'we will have new food catastrophes, or even pandemics.' The link between averting avian flu and subsidising marginal farmers is quite a tenuous one. In the UK, people have tried to use the threat of terrorism to wave the food security card, but have never been able to demonstrate exactly what the threat to the food chain is.

If subsidies were removed overnight, many European farmers would go out of business to the extent that world food prices would rise. There is a case for replacing subsidies by some kind of bond scheme with a finite life.

However, there is a case for providing some help for farmers for the positive externalities they provide (such as cherished landscapes), while there is a rural development case for providing help to remoter regions (which is not to say that depopulation is necessarily always a bad thing).

What is difficult to justify is spending nearly half the European budget and over €40 billions a year on the CAP and rural development. The opportunity cost is considerable at a time when Europe faces major challenges in world markets and needs more spending on research and development and innovation.

The French insistence on defending the CAP may not only derail the Doha negotiations, it may even eventually place the whole European project - or least its viability - in jeopardy.Any source

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Suit Brought against WGA

Writer-director William Richert has sued the Writers Guild of America West in Los Angeles Superior Court over its practice of collecting foreign levies for writers who aren't WGA members. Richert claims that the WGA has been accepting foreign collections in 1991 on monies due copyright holders such as taxes on video rentals and purchases of blank videocassettes.

The suit alleges that the WGA has no authority to collect the funds for non-members, hasn't communicated that information to the affected writers and hasn't paid them.

Richert is seeking class-action status for the suit. WGA West president Daniel Petrie Jr. told Daily Variety that the guild's authority to collect the funds for non-members stems from the initial agreements it struck in the late 1980s with the collection agencies.

According to Daily Variety, the WGA currently has $19 million in foreign levies in its accounts and another $4 million of undeliverable funds from the levies.

Hampton’s Film Festival Award Winner

Congratulations to our clients’ producers Jon Stern and Ben Odell and writer/director Stefan C. Shafer whose film, Confess, premiered at the Hampton’s Film Festival in New York October 21. Confess won the Zicherman Family Foundation Award for Best Screenplay.

Risky Business Seminar at UCLA Oct. 29-30

Mark will present his "Risky Business: Financing & Distributing Independent Films" seminar at at UCLA on Oct. 29-30. Those who attend this comprehensive two-day seminar will learn how independent films are financed and distributed. Topics include organizing your company, raising financing via pre-sales, debt and limited partnerships, negotiating tactics, principal terms of the acquisition/distribution agreement, cross-collateralization and creative accounting. Particular attention is paid to how producers and filmmakers can protect their interests by watering down warranties, getting added to the E& O policy, using lab access letter to retain possession of the negative, and utilizing termination and arbitration clauses.

Women in Film Summit October 29- November 1.

Women in Film & Television International Summit October 29 to November 1, 2005.
Mark will speak at the 9 AM panel on Intellectual Property and Copyright issues at WIF Summit. Women In Film Los Angeles will host the 2005 The Summit provides a forum for filmmakers from all over the world to network, greet old friends and forge new relationships. There will be four days of panels, lunches, cocktail parties, screenings and special events with all activities being held at the Park Hyatt Hotel on Avenue of the Stars in Century City.

Women In Film & Television International (WIFTI) is a global network comprised of some 36 Women In Film Chapters worldwide and over 10,000 members dedicated to advancing professional development and achievement for women working in all areas of film, video, and other screen based media.

Additional info at: source

Sunday, October 23, 2005


SHEARSMAN MAGAZINE, Issue 65 & 66. ed. Tony Frazer. Amazing mag from the UK which brings much needed attention to anglophone poets worldwide. Poetry by Harry Guest, Louis Armand, Elizabeth Treadwell, Arlene Ang, D.S. Marriot, Scott Thurston, Simon Perril, Chris Brown sword, Isobel Armstrong, Craig Watson, David Berridge, James Bell, Edward Mycue, Anna Moschovakis, Anamaria Crowe Serrano, Chris McCabe, Carrie Etter, Rochelle Ratner, Carolyn van Langenberg, Maurice Scully, Rob Stanton. Translations of Yves Bonnefoy by Peter Boyle, Jose Kozer by Mark Weiss, Cesar Vallejo by Michael SMith & Valentino Gianuzzi, Ilhan Berk by George Messo, and Boris Poplavsky.

THE POKER, Issue 6. ed. Daniel Bouchard. As always, wonderful. Particularly delightful to read Moxley's discussion of lyric poetry. Poetry by Jackson Mac Low, Joe Elliot, Rodney Koeneke, Deborah Meadows, Rodrigo Toscano, Nancy Kuhl, Fitz-Greene Halleck, Alan Bernheimer, Douglas Rothschild, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Lee Ann Brown, Daniel Bouchard, Baudelaire, Rae Armantrout, Bill Luoma & John Latta. Translation by Kieth Waldrop. Prose by Mitch Highfill, Benjamin Friedlander, Jennifer Moxley and Steve Evans.

CHICAGO REVIEW, 50: 2/3/4. ed. Eirik Steinhoff. The issue contains essays on Zukofsky by Mark Scroggins ad David Wray, a selection from Zukofsky's correspondence, & Elsa Dorfman's portraits of Zukofsky. Paul Zukofsky discusses the marginalia found in his fathers library as perhaps the last frontier of Zukofsky scholarship. Other work includes poems by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Theodore Enslin, Tom Pickard, and others, as well as essays & reviews by Daniel Bouchard, Michael Heler, Thomas Fink, Devin Johnston and others. go to their website! Its all there.

Any source

Saturday, October 22, 2005


If Andrew Schelling were to do nothing but write and publish notebooks I would be more than satisfied. The notebooks are wonderful, processual journeys which emerge incrementally as the author moves through experience, through the day to day. Two Elk follows much the same loose form as his earlier notebook THE ROAD TO OCOSINGO, moving freely between fragmented bits of prose, verse, letters, recorded dreams, quotes & observations. Schelling himself explains lucidly in his preface:

During autumn of 2003 I kept a high country journal which I eventually named Two Elk after the creek that lies in an adjacent drainage to Vail ski resort's Category III expansion. My project in the notebooks was to document excursions into Colorado's high altitude terrain. These formidable peaks & high valleys--with their low oxygen, scant moisture, intense sunlight, scouring winds, & tough ice--have been my kindest, toughest, & sturdiest teachers the fourteen years I've lived among them. Hence the notebook entries became songs, prayers, and poems of devotion.

Schelling's grasp on the craggy, rugged Colorado wilderness around him is shaped by an impressive knowledge of world literatures, a keen awareness of his position in relation to the totality of the surrounding world. Vedic goddesses, T'ang poets, Scotch sailors & an assortment of others inhabit & inform Schelling's perception of time & space from his point of reference in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies.

At the very core of the work, however, is a deeply-seated understanding of the environment at large, the Earth, as a transient & ecologically delicate thing which must be cherished and preserved. In determining a source of heat for he & his daughter Althea, his decision is ecologically informed:

Harvest days. The gathering of the year. The stacking of fruit & firewood. This year I will take heat only from wood, coal-bed methane extraction being such a disaster. The buried seams crack under pressure, the retort like an earthquake, and noxious gas enters the water table.

Just as the earth is delicate, the same holds true for the human body. It is the transience and fragility of life which we are most aware of in times of adversity, in the cold, & Schelling believes it is this which lies at the center of all things human, of love & of the work which emerges from love:

Late autumn is for melancholy. A fragrance of wet leaf mould stirred with fermenting apples. I have a body that evolved in the Pleistocene & want to burrow under the covers. This is the season for love.
Any source


Fred Smith came of age and into poetry in the ideologically land-locked Midwest, a region where the New Critics ruled literature departments with an unforgiving iron fist. While their hold appeared to be slipping in literature departments along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts during the fifties, their idea of poetry and literature remained fairly well-preserved in the mid-west, not unlike a can of pickled tomatoes. Having attended the University of Minnesota in the fifties, Smith is able to count Allen Tate, a poet central to the New Criticism, among his past instructors. Smith, however, doesn't reject the New Criticism but seems to in fact deeply admire it. He doesn't reject it; he responds to it. His recently published work reveals this peculiar dialectical relationship.

Smith was the last in a long line of distinguished poets to be published by Black Sparrow Press before it folded, before the Bukowski backlist was handed over to Harper Collins and the rest went to David Godine for a smooth single American dollar bill. Smith was 68 years old when his first collection of poems, Rollerdrome, was published. Given the current literary vogue, Smith engages a narrative, confessional form most poets and critics would immediately dismiss, yet he does this in response partly to High Modernism and the New Criticism which appears to have dominated his early intellectual life. The tone of the work is flat and dry, a slow & contemplative Midwestern drawl not unlike that of Twain or, in the rarest of times, even Eliot.

ROLLERDROME, as a collection, is divided up into five distinct sections: Children, Parents and Other Observations; Seven Japanese Portraits; Rollerdrome and the Millionaire; Early Poems; and Robert's Book. A continuation of this last section, Robert's Book, was published earlier this year and appears to be an ongoing work-in-progress, an addendum of sorts to the last section of Rollerdrome.

The first section--Children, Parents and Other Observations--is a string of loosely related narrative poems which, as a whole, come together to shape a distinctly dysfunctional American community, a sexually repressed Peyton Place of sorts where sexual expression becomes manifest in horribly destructive ways as a result of conventional mores. These poems come together in much the same way as the stories within the Canterbury Tales or Boccaccio's Decameron. The dry humor and flat tone of each poem encourages shoulder-shrugging laughter where despair and an awareness of powerlessness might be:

A color photograph taken
at the time of Aunt Doll's visit
shows her and grandmother and their
brothers Fred and Emmett standing
in front of grandmother's house.
A flaw in the negative makes it
look like a hole is burning in
Uncle Emmett's pants where his cock
ought to be. He served two years
in Kansas for messing around
with a teenage prostitute, and got
mercury shots for his syphilis.
The only male in our family
convicted of being a man.

Much of Smith's writing works toward demystification, toward lateralizing, materializing, establishing a level playing field. "Card Reading," a poem which appears at the center of the section title "Rollerdrome and the Millionaire," seems, in several ways, to be a response to Eliot, a poet whose work Smith had no choice but to become intimately familiar with. Where Eliot's "Madame Sosostris" and her reading of the tarot in "The Wasteland" carries tremendous allegorical and prophetic luggage, Smith's Madame Adelaide is much more transparent, much more a woman simply earning a living, a deluded woman who believes:

… God wouldn't give
me this gift if He hadn't meant
me to support myself by it.
Many times I've been hungry in
a cold room without any wood
for the stove when a stranger
seeking the truth about himself
has suddenly appeared at my
door and crossed my palm with silver.

Compare this with Eliot:

Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards…

The tone is much the same. Just as the mid-western drawl is present in Smith, it emerges in Eliot every now & again. Rather than taking on a larger, allegorical meaning which locates itself interdependently in relation to the rest of the larger work as Eliot's Madame Sosostris does, Madame Adelaide is, for Smith, simply one among many characters. Madame Adelaide is not romanticized or mystified, her reading isn't prophetic--it simply is, as is a carnival or any number of other things people, in their fear of the world & the future, might come to superstitiously cling to & depend upon. The animated dialogue between the narrator and Madame Adelaide moves swiftly toward demystification when the narrator asks, "Do you think I can get out of my present situation?"

"I only read the cards. I don't
answer specific questions. It
wouldn't be ethical for me
to give personal advice."

"Then your cards aren't much help.
Do you believe in the cards?"

This flat, pessimistic monotone characterizes the whole of Smith's narrative approach. When we encounter licentious preachers, desperate hustlers on Polk Street, a wildly drunk & aged woman, soldiers returning from war and other oddballs, the flat narrative tone tells us that we ought not be surprised, we ought to understand that the sexually repressed, highly conservative fifties and sixties inadvertently created these curious people, these painfully wonderful people. We ought to shrug our shoulders and utter with a wry sense of irony, "It figures." Most importantly, Smith encourages us to take our place alongside these oddballs, to admit to ourselves that we not only live among them, we are them.
Any source

Friday, October 21, 2005


Pickard is a poet of grit & force, like the grinding of gears to the ear or sandpaper across the eyeballs. His force doesn’t come from breaking with normative syntactic structures or disrupting and manipulating the semantic. It comes from an aggressive cynicism traditionally expressed through popular and folk forms—the ballad, the sharp satiric verse, the bawdy limerick, the dainty innocent rhyme which simultaneously shrugs off and also underscores the despairing gravity of its content. Pickard returns to these forms, willfully choosing to eschew experimentation in favor of exploring more culturally entrenched forms specific to the north of England.

The first poem in his latest collection, The Dark Months of May, kicks off with a line which courses through the work as a structural thread: "hung-over." As the collection moves the sense becomes one of falling in & out of consciousness, waking up the morning after & struggling to recollect the evening before. The recollection comes slow. Fragmented images and moments are reassembled out of sequence, their edges marked by mist and curious vagaries punctuated with sharp wry wit &, at times, piercing bitterness not unlike that of an increasingly cynical Catullus. Take the following:

a siskin’s contented mew
breezes from the gorse
martins swarm and skim

the sun slips under
the brim of my hat

I thought this place
to trace the story of a story

the river spoke and you
still stink of spring

Pickard’s brand of bitterness, however, is often much more forceful, more blunt. It is the same naked street-level cynicism which, not surprisingly, emerges often in Bunting and Pound:

cold Atlantic blasts
make warmer company that you
these last few months

Here the oppositional rage which characterizes most of Pickard’s work, especially early work like the 1971 novella Guttersnipe, are woven deeply into the texture of the verse. Pickard explores roguish elements culturally specific to Northern England in consciously selected populist forms. For Pickard the written "is a trail of evidence/ tailor-made for trial." The trail of evidence leads back temporally through rime & song, back to earlier popular traditions and finds its ultimate expression at the end of the collection through the story of James Allan delivered within the framework of a ballad.

Allan, we’re told, "was an eighteenth century gypsy musician who lived in the English-Scottish borders and died in Durham jail where he was serving a life sentence for stealing a horse at the age of seventy. His reputation as a great musician was matched by his reputation as an outlaw…."

Passages from "The Ballad of Jamie Allen" come after a stretch of short poems and then a series of mixed prose and verse pieces titled "Fragments from an Archeological Dig in Gallowate." The latter marks the cumulative stratification of cultural remains found on an archeological dig, the site flanked on all sides by modernity—office buildings and a bus station. The dig here points toward development and cultural accumulation, pointing toward a contemporary culture that still contains traces of its medieval and Victorian past. This, of course, leads into the closing passages from "The Ballad of Jamie Allen."

The passages from the ballad are part of a larger work, a libretto Pickard is currently working on for composer John Harle. Clearly Pickard finds something contemporary in both the ballad form and the story itself. Like Pickard, Allen is a musician and rogue consciously living in the border lands, on the outskirts of stifling conventional mores. The two of them, Pickard and Allen, are no different than the hawthorn discussed in the work, a hawthorn which has "set its roots against the wind/ the worrying wind that’s blowing." But the tale begins with Allen’s end. The ballad begins with an image of Allen in jail at the age of seventy, from which point the tale reaches back in order to discuss Allen’s life, just as Pickard has reached back to explore song itself. As Pickard’s ballad develops further and more of it is published we may find that it is Allen’s commitment to music, to song, which has shoved him to the margins of civilization, compelled him to support his unconventional life by unconventional means. This is certainly the case for Pickard & his writing, which never attempts to pull any punches, consistently makes this known.
Any source

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Half speed ahead in Doha Round

It's half speed ahead in the Doha Round agricultural trade negotiations after the US and EU tabled new offers, following by a compromise paper by the G-20 which was in part an attempt to reconcile their internal differences.

The US put the EU on the spot with a new offer on domestic subsidies which was launched with a fanfare with a Financial Times article by US Trade Representative Rob Portman. The offer was not quite as generous as it seemed as it would allow the controversial counter cyclical payments initiated by the US in the 2002 Farm Act to continue, but their size would be limited to a maximum $5 billion a year, compared with $7.6 billion at the moment.

This was enough to alarm Senator Saxby Chambliss, chairman of the US Senate's agriculture committee who sent a letter to US ag secretary Mike Johanns telling him not to sell out the store and in particular to do nothing that would lower the level of farm spending in the US. The Bush Administration would like nothing more than to cut the level of farm spending as one means of dealing with the huge US budget deficit.

The EU has also had its internal problems with France, backed by thirteen other member states, trying to limit the room for manoeuvre of trade commissioner Peter Mandelson to an extent that would have probably derailed the Hong Kong ministerial. However, the French were beaten back at an emergency meeting of the Council of foreign ministers, in itself an unusual event. However, the French remain hot under the collar under the issue and will no doubt cause more trouble as they did in the Uruguay Round.

The real sticking point remains tariffs with the EU calling for a maximum 50 per cent cut on the highest tariffs compared with a 90 per cent figure advocated by the US. As Agra Europe has commented, a 90 per cent cut would mean that the EU butter intervention price would have to be slashed by 25 per cent which would be a heavy blow for Europe's troubled dairy industry. However, the US points out that the current EU offer would lead to an average cut in European farm tariffs of 24.5 per cent, less than the 36 per cent average agreed in the Uruguay Round.

The US wants 'sensitive' products to be limited to 1 per cent of tariff lines, with the EU asking for up to 8 per cent. This would offer protection for around 160 EU tariff lines. Remember, for 'sensitive' read 'politically sensitive'.

The real horse trading is beginning, but there is still a long way to go before agreement is reached.Any source

Monday, October 17, 2005

Non-GM costs to rise, claims report

European food producers will face significantly higher costs over the next three years if staunch opposition to using GM ingredients continues, a study commissioned by Agricultural Biotechnology Europe (who have a particular stance) suggests. Up to now the cost of Europe's anti-GM stance has been minimal as the greater cost of producing non-GM ingredients has been pushed down the supply chain.

This will change, it is claimed, as the availability of guaranteed non-GM ingredients declines and the premium on non-GM supplies rises. A particular problem is the availability of non-GM soyabeans. Soyabeans are used in producing a wide range of processed foods (even biscuits) and over half the soyabeans planted across the globe are now GM. Brazil, the primary supplier of non-GM soya products to the EU, has now formally approved the planting of transgenic soyabean seeds (although they were already grown illegally) so the percentage is likely to grow.

The existing differential between GM and non-GM could double in the next one to three years. For example, producers of broiler feed are likely to find that the premium over transgenic varieties for soya meal and soya oil will rise from between 10 per cent and 13 per cent to as much as 25 per cent. Margarine producers, 70 per cent of whom currently support non-GM policies, would see a rise of 16 per cent over three years or €85m annually.

There is some dispute about whether GM crops are as cheap to produce as their supporters claim, so these figures may be exaggerated. Retailers and processors face a dilemma as consumers are resistant to GM ingredients but also resistant to price rises.

GM-free zone ruled illegal

The European Court of First Instance has ruled that Upper Austria is not allowed to declare itself a 'non-genetically modified' zone. The ban had been originally rejected by the Commission on the grounds that there was no scientific evidence to support it. This is the first time that the Court has ruled on a general regional prohibition of GM crops although there are many other areas in Europe that proclaim themselves to be GM free. The Commission stated that the decision was a clear pronouncement that the free movement of goods within the EU had to be respected, but Upper Austria is likely to fight on.

WTO panel ruling delayed

The WTO dispute panel ruling on the EU's alleged moratorium for new genetically modified products has been put off until after the WTO's Hong Kong ministerial in December. The cover story is scheduling reasons, but it is clearly an attempt to prevent this conflict spilling over into already difficult negotiations.Any source

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Confess to premiere at the Hampton's Festival

Congratulations to our clients, director Stefan Schaefer, and producers Jonathan Stern and Benjamin Odell.

Their film, CONFESS, will premiere as part of the narrative competition at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

CONFESS charts the exploits of disillusioned ex-hacker Terell Lessor (Eugene Byrd). Employing strategically placed spy-cams, he captures compromising footage of those who slighted him in the past, broadcasting edits via the internet. Recognizing the power of this model, and working in tandem with accomplice Olivia (Ali Larter), he targets CEO's, politicians, and members of the power elite. Soon Terell's every action is front-page news, law enforcement has labeled him a new breed of terrorist, and the movement he spawned is spiraling out of control.

CONFESS will be screening at:

1) 9:00 p.m. on Friday, October 21, 2005 at the UA 4 Theater in East Hampton.

2) 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 22, 2005 at the UA 6 Theater in East Hampton.

3) 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 22, 2005 at the Panasonic VIP screening room at the South Hampton Inn.

For more information click on


CRAZY LOVE will premier at ArcLight Cinemas at 6360 West Sunset Boulevard at the Hollywood Film festival on October 22, 2005, at 2 p.m. (Parking entrance on Ivar).

Tickets for CRAZY LOVE are now available through the ArcLight web site.


Mark Litwak's book "Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry, 2nd Edition" has been republished in Korea by Easy Books.

Dealmaking is the first self-defense book for everyone working in the film and television industry, addressing a general, non-attorney readership, it is a fascinating, highly accessible and practical guide to current entertainment law peculiarities and "creative" practices. Armed with this book, filmmakers can save themselves thousands of dollars in legal fees as they navigate the entertainment business's shark-infested waters. Whether you are a professional or wannabe producer, writer, director, or actor, this book can help you make the most of your business dealings while steering you clear of contractual traps. The second edition of this popular book contains hundreds of updates and revisions of the first edition and includes two new chapters: Legal Remedies and Retaining Attorneys, Agents, and Managers.Any source

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Back to the old days in Germany?

Once upon a time the typical German agriculture minister was a member of the CSU from Bavaria. Of course, sometimes the minister came from another Land and was a member of the FPD or the CDU. But wherever they came from, the ministers were male, had close ties to the agriculture industry and evidently enjoyed good food and beer. Those from Bavaria were particularly attuned to the concerns of the relatively small-scale, often part-time and potentially marginal farmers of this distinctive southern and Catholic part of Germany.

All this was shaken up an urban German Green woman, Renate Kunast, took over a changed farm portfolio that paid greater attention to food safety, food quality and consumer concerns. Organic farming was viewed with particular favour. Whether she made as great a difference as was initially hoped (or feared) remains an open question. It does seem, however, that the changed portfolio title with its emphasis on consumer affairs will be kept.

Now the CSU is back in the agriculture portfolio in Angela Merkel's Grand Coalition. Ministerial responsibilities have not yet been finalised, but the man tipped by the media to be Germany's new farm minister is the CDU/CSU's former deputy leader, Horst Seehofer.

German agricultural wire service Agrimanager describes Seehofer as a 'controversial health expert,' who has previously been responsible for agricultural matters in his party, but 'has not yet gained real standing in this sector'.

In other words, the former health minister looks like a bit of a wild card at first sight, someone with a base in his party, but not necessarily linked into the traditional farm policy networks. So it may not be back to business as usual.

Our Munich correspondent comments, 'You are right to suggest that Seehofer is not the traditional CSU guy. He resigned from his role as deputy leader of the CDU/CSU in Parliament in 2004 because he disagreed with the party's policy, in other words he resigned on the basis of his convictions.'

'What would be far more worrying from my perspective would be alternative being discussed at the moment, Michael Glos, who is known not least for calling Fischer and Trittin "eco-stalinists"'. And he is very traditional.'Any source

Could Parliament block sugar reform?

Because there is no co-decision on CAP 'guarantee' expenditure matters, something that would have been tackled by the failed EU treaty, the role of the European Parliament in farm reform is usually relatively limited compared to other areas of EU policy.

However, the Parliament may be in a position to block progress on the sugar reform, enabling it to extract further concessions from the Commission. The Council cannot legally adopt CAP legislation until the MEPs have delivered an opinion on the proposal - but there is no obligation to take their views into account. One mechanism that the Parliament does have to protest over proposals it opposes is to delay delivery of the necessary opinion, or to threaten not to deliver it all.

Commissioner Fischer Boel has responded to the Commission's rapporteur on the sugar reform dossier, Jean-Claude Fruteau. She has ruled out one main demand, a compensation level to sugar beet farmers increased from 60% to 80%. Her view is that it is in line with what has been offered in other reformed sectors and any more would be too generous.

She was, however, prepared to take a look again at the proposed sugar restructuring fund which Fruteau described as ungenerous. She also tried to reassure MEPs that the lower internal EU price for sugar would give third countries less incentive to engage in fraud through so-called triangular imports. This is where countries re-export imported sugar claiming that it is their own produce. She stated that if a particular country failed to observe the rules, or if sugar imports were causing serious disturbance to the EU market (shades of the recent Mandelson intervention on Chinese textiles), the EU reserved the right to withdraw tariff preferences.

Fischer Boel and the UK presidency stress that a decision on sugar reform is needed in possible, both to help farmers make their planting plans for next year and also to prevent a row about sugar derailing the agricultural talks at the Hong Kong WTO ministerial in December.Any source

Monday, October 10, 2005

Turkey and the CAP

Turkish accession to the European Union would pose formidable problems for the CAP. These arise from the very large numbers of people employed on the land in Turkey, often engaged in very low value added forms of agriculture. 30 per cent of the population in Turkey is engaged in agriculture compared with only 5 per cent in the EU-25. If Turkey was to join the EU today it would more than double the agricultural population, adding 7.2 million people to the current 6.9 million.

Agriculture has an 11.5 per cent share of GDP in Turkey, compared with 1.9 per cent in the EU-15. Some 40 per cent of the population live in rural areas. Agricultural exports are 11.2 per cent of total exports compared with 3.9 per cent in the EU-15. Labour productivity in agriculture is low. Gross Value Added per person is agriculture is one-eighth of the average EU-15 level. Average income per employed household member in Turkish agriculture is less than 40 per cent of the level for non-agricultural workers.

Agriculture does, however, have a dual structure with commercial farms and export-oriented chains for individual products co-existing with subsistence or semi-subsistence farming. The average farm size is six hectares compared to the EU average of 13 hectares. In terms of value, fruit, vegetables and cereals are the most important farm products. Fruit and vegetable production alone accounts for 43 per cent of total output, compared with only 15 per cent in the EU. They also represent over half of Turkey’s agricultural exports. The livestock sector is much less competitive and badly in need of structural modernisation. The country already ranks as Europe’s largest fruit grower, behind Italy and Spain. Turkey occupies a strong position in relation to individual speciality crops. It is the second largest producer of hazelnuts in the world and is a competitive producer of peas, lentils and olive oil.

There are major animal health problems in Turkey. In the veterinary area, major efforts would have to be made to improve conditions and in particular controls on the eastern border. Some highly infectious animal diseases that have virtually disappeared in western and northern Europe remain endemic in Turkey. For example, outbreaks of foot and mouth disease have occurred in virtually every year since 1996. Turkey is also prone to outbreaks of anthrax and brucellosis. Food hygiene standards are poor.

Turkey lacks an adequate infrastructure of trained staff to implement the various rules and regulations that accompany CAP membership, although it is the case that farm policies are even more interventionist than those of the CAP. Yet levels of support are lower with a PSE in Turkey of 26 per cent compared with 37 per cent in the EU-15.

Rural development policy in Turkey is focused on large-scale investments in areas such as irrigation. Major dam projects are being undertaken in south-east Anatolia and should increase the farmland area benefiting from irrigation facilities by some twenty per cent. Structural policy would be a new concept for Turkey, however.

Agricultural policy has often been driven by vote seeking in rural areas and farmers’ organisations have been weakly developed. Nevertheless, the Agriculture Reform Implementation Project (ARIP) of 2001-5 represents a new direction in agricultural policy and aims to bring Turkey more in line with the EU. Price support has been reduced, subsidies have been removed and a direct income support for farmers similar to that now used in the EU has been introduced. This is not, however, fully decoupled as it is based on flat-rate payments per hectare, capped at 50 hectares. Most products, however, still enjoy high levels of trade protection, reflected in a considerable agricultural trade surplus. Attempts to reform the state-controlled Agricultural Sales Co-operatives have made little progress.

Calculations of the impact on the EU budget of Turkish membership vary according to the basis for the estimates made. Most estimates are based on the assumption of Turkish membership by 2015 which many analysts regard as unrealistically early. Assumptions also have to be made about the progress on further CAP reform by 2015.

The Commission’s own figure estimates the cost to the agriculture budget in 2015 at 2004 prices would be around €11.3bn, a larger sum than that taken up by the ten new entrants to the EU in 2004. Economists at Wageningen Univeristy have come up with a lower estimate of €5.2bn, made up of €3.6bn for market measures and direct aid and €1.6bn for rural development expenditure. However, this depends on a number of assumptions that include reform of the EU sugar regime, abolition of EU export refunds and a 20 per cent appreciation of the Turkish lira. There would also need to be 2 per cent annual decreases in EU income transfers from 2006 and further WTO tariff cuts after the completion of the Doha Round. Agra Europe estimates that the accession of Turkey and Croatia would add around €60 billion at the end of the next budgetary perspectives period or an estimated 19 per cent addition to an estimated 2013 expenditure level of €51.2bn for the EU-27, pushing the CAP spending total to around €60 bilion. In broad terms it seems realistic to expect an increase of over 20 per cent in the current CAP budget following Turkish membership.

Turkish membership would lock the EU into a long-term commitment to transferring resources to a largely backward agrarian economy. Indeed, in the short run, the shock of competition with the EU would exacerbate pre-existing problems of poverty.
Modernisation through skill transfer would be limited by the fact that 18 per cent of the agricultural workforce is illiterate. If employment in farming was to be reduced to a level nearer to its share of national output, a working paper by the Centre for European Reform estimates that it would be necessary to take eight million families out of agriculture.

There is a real danger that Turkish membership would embed a CAP dominated by redistributive policies that maintain inefficient forms of agricultural production. Admittedly, the prospect of Turkish membership could provide a new reform stimulus, but such pressures tend to have uneven effects.

Turkish accession is largely driven by 'big picture' political considerations, particularly for the UK, with the question of the CAP being left to negotiations with the hope that it will be all right on accession night. However, failure to arrive at a satisfactory deal would certainly delay entry and might halt it altogether given the lack of enthusiasm among many European states.Any source

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Sugar row could hit WTO talks

The decision by the EU to dump nearly two million tonnes of sugar on the world market (technically 'declassification' of quota sugar) despite a WTO ruling that such sales were illegal could have an impact on the Doha Round trade talks.

A statement by Brazil said (in rather convoluted syntax): 'It is unavoidable to note the negative signal the EC sends to WTO negotiators less than three months before the ministerial conference in Hong Kong by taking this decision on declassification. Hardly any of us could find a more deleterious way to express the gap between words and deeds.' The declassification is up to ten times as big as in previous years and the Brazilians claim that it could push the world price down by six per cent. The problem the Commission faces is that there are already nearly a million tonnes of surplus sugar stored across Europe at the Commission's expense.

The EU claims that since no deadline has yet been set to bring its sugar regime in compliance with the WTO ruling, it can get rid of its surplus in the meantime. An abitrator has been appointed to determine a reasonable length of time for the EU to comply and is due to report by late October. The delay between ruling and implementation means that complainats Brazil, Thailand and Australia are unlikely to be able to obtain legal redress against the EU for its decision to offload surplus sugar.

If the arbitrator does side with the complainants, this will be the first time that a major WTO member has failed to respect its commitments (in terms of export subsidies). Will the WTO be able to effectively discipline one of its most powerful members?

One lump or two? The state of the reform debate

There are signs of an emerging consensus. Member states that are hard hit such as Hungary, Ireland and Italy continue to complain about their fate, but really they are following the traditional EU tactic of getting some side payments in return for their agreement.

As Agra Europe recently commented, the Commission faces the unenviable task of negotiating 'the downsizing of a hugely bloated EU sugar market while somehow keeping on the right side of WTO law and avoiding causing too many bankruptcies among sugar producers and refiners in Europe and around the world ... Having created a monstrous regime which flew in the face of all principles of economic rationality, its creators knew all too well that the monster would bite back if anyone tried to interfere with it.'

The Commission suggested at a recent meeting of the Special Committee on Agriculture that new member states could receive a Separate Sugar Payment (SSP) as compensation for price cuts. The argument made for this payment is that farmers there have no track record of entitlements before accession in 2004. Latvia and Lithuania have been particularly concerned that the compensation for beet growers in the sugar proposal could go to landowners rather than the beet farmers.

Parliament's draft report unhelpful

The rapporteur on the sugar reform dossier in the European Parliament (Jean-Claude Fruteau) has come up with an unhelpful set of proposals in his draft report. They would both undermine the reform and penalise developing countries as well as hitting the EU budget.

The report suggests that the reduction in the reference price for sugar should be 25 per cent over three years not 39 per cent over two years as the Commission has proposed. It is difficult to see how such a scaled down reduction could permit the EU to meet its WTO commitments.

The report also suggests that the Commission should offer 80 per cent compensation for income losses incurred by EU sugar beet growers, a one third increase in the 60 per cent currently on the table. The idea that farmers in the new member states could receive their compensation on a per hectare basis is, however, compatible with the Commission's recent proposal discussed above and one wonders if a version of it might be used in the EU-15.

The report also proposes delaying the full implementation of the Everything But Arms agreement for six years until 2015. Imports of sugar from these developing countries could be controlled through a transitional period. Quotas would remain in place until 2015 but import duties would be gradually decreased. A so-called 'safeguard' clause would limit net exports by EBA countries to the difference between the sugar produced and the consumption level of each country.

The sugar lobby was earlier successful in delaying EBA implementation until 2009. Any further delay would be opposed by Global South groups like Oxfam.Any source