A general introduction to Media and Entertainment Law in Estonia

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Introduction

Estonia is a country that supports the development of a free press and media and entertainment industry. Estonia’s media policy is considered to be in line with the European Union. In 2023, Estonia ranked eighth in the world in the Press Freedom Index, falling four places compared to 2022, and Estonia ranked fourth.2

Estonia has a growing film industry. There are many organizations active every day that aim to grow the industry, such as the Film Institute and the Film Industry Cluster. In the summer of 2019, Christopher Nolan filmed Tenet Bringing around 16 million euros to Estonia on the streets of Tallinn, involving around 700 small enterprises;3 In addition to this, there are many successful films that are being produced at the domestic level – which is well-known in terms of popularity Melkior Apothecary. Called a new film from the California company Free money (In English: Free money) was one of the first films to incorporate non-perishable tokens (NFTs) directly into the screening experience, displaying QR codes on the film and offering exclusive assets to early viewers.4

In addition, there are several film industry-related projects, such as building the region’s largest film industry center (Tallinn Film Wonderland) and a separate project, a film education center.

In September 2021, the Estonian Parliament approved a list of cultural objects of national importance, including the Tallinn Film Wonderland project. The project will see the construction of a complex of film studios and a film campus in Tallinn to attract international film, TV and commercial production to Estonia as the largest and most advanced film industry center in the Baltic region.5 The Film Campus is considered one of Tallinn’s most important projects, but the budget for Tallinn’s Film Wonderland has increased significantly. According to the Deputy Mayor of Tallinn, preparatory works for the main building of the campus are being completed and technical preparations have been made.6

Estonia offers its history and cultural heritage. The Ministry of Culture has developed an action plan to digitize Estonian cultural heritage. This plan focuses mainly on the period 1900 to 1940. Documents, publications, photos, films, works of art and objects will be digitized by 2023, approximately 33 percent of Estonia’s cultural heritage will be digitized in total.7

For the sustainable development of culture, Estonia has developed a comprehensive document that sets out strategic goals for Estonian culture in the Cultural Development Plan 2021-2030. The plan sets specific goals for each sector, including the media and entertainment sector, as well as increasing attention to digitization and the role of social media in general.8

In recent years, Estonian artists and especially music artists have been fighting for viewers and listeners by consolidating their market place on major digital platforms such as Spotify and YouTube. Although there is no publicly available data on how much income Estonian artists are earning from their content on these platforms, some experts estimate that income is very low. Currently, artists have a choice whether to upload their content to these platforms or not get any audience.9 However, while the current situation is somewhat unfair, there are signs that the situation is improving. Estonian entrepreneurs have successfully launched a project to ensure fair and transparent payment of artists for their creative work through the new music streaming platform Fermus, which is gradually reaching a wider audience. A number of famous Estonian artists, together with the Estonian Authors’ Association (EAÜ), have indicated their support for an initiative that aims to protect Estonian artists.10



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