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IRIS Merlin legal database becomes more user-friendly

Patricia Koza 2008-01-27

Filmmakers now have several new ways to obtain legal information on the audiovisual sector in Europe. According to analysts at the European Audiovisual Laboratory, part of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, the data may be particularly useful for filmmakers in the new EU states.

The IRIS Merlin free-access database contains over 4,000 articles on legal developments in the media field. The articles describe relevant laws, decisions of various courts and administrative authorities, and policy documents from 58 countries.

IRIS Merlin was recently made more user-friendly with the addition of a basket function that allows users to store articles of interest in a basket and then export them free of charge into a single Word or PDF document. The database is searchable by criteria such as key topics, country or the name of the organisation issuing a text.

"These new user facilities have, in effect, turbo-charged what was already a very powerful legal research tool for anyone writing about the audiovisual industries in Europe," Susanne Nikoitchev, head of the observatory's department for legal information, said in a statement.

Legal information analyst Francisco Javier-Cabrera Blazquez provided some examples for FNE of how the IRIS Merlin database can help a filmmaker or distributor.

--Any production company needs to know the complex legal framework for the production and financing of audiovisual works. Merlin provides detailed information on legislative developments at the national and EU level:

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--Currently most European films are made as co-productions between companies from different European countries. Merlin allows a search of the most important co-production agreements among European countries:

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-- Piracy is a burning issue for every production company in Europe. Merlin allows filmmakers and distributors to keep updated of case law concerning piracy issues:

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