We Need to Talk About the Audiovisual Sector

Jean-Marie Cavada, MEP (France, EPP) rapporteur for the non-legislative report of the European Parliament on the online distribution of audiovisual works, organised a workshop on 27 February to discuss the issues with a panel of stakeholders representing authors, performers, producers and broadcasters[1]. I was therefore seated on stage among them to present SAA’s proposal for the remuneration of audiovisual authors for the online distribution of their works.

After the workshop, I came to a very sad conclusion: it takes events like this to get the different actors in the audiovisual sector in a room together and talking to each other!

Since the publication of SAA’s White Paper on the Audiovisual Authors’ Rights and Remuneration in Europe last year, we have invited our industry partners to discuss our proposal. Most of them responded positively and we were able to develop a dialogue on the industry needs and opportunities in the digital era. However, without our initiative, such a dialogue would not exist. Some organisations are still reluctant to accept it.

There is no organised dialogue at European level between the different stakeholders of the audiovisual sector, in particular on copyright issues. A social dialogue exists between employers and employees, but the authors, a free-lance community for most of them, do not fit into this.

The sector is facing tremendous challenges, such as:

  • how to seize the digital opportunities to better organise the sector (identification of works, tracking of uses, automated process of reporting) and the relationships between the creators, producers, distributors, broadcasters, new platforms,
  • how to adapt to the internationalization of distribution of audiovisual works,
  • how to maintain existing financing and develop new sources of income,
  • how to enhance the financial return of copyright to the creators,
  • how to value copyright in this sector, etc.

These need industry responses and proposals for the European legislator who wants to build the digital single market.

If the audiovisual sector is unable to hold a dialogue between its different components to prepare and adapt to the future, there is a risk that the legislator will impose its own perspective. In the copyright field, taking into account the political pressure from internet users challenging the value of copyright due in part to the perceived lack of benefits for creators, the risk is very high for the whole sector. It is therefore time for the audiovisual sector to accept a rebalance of copyright in favour of creators in the digital environment for the sake of the whole system.

Writing this has given me renewed motivation to try and create such a dialogue – please consider this an open invitation. If we can’t work something out together though, let’s hope that the European Commission and Parliament will seize this opportunity to organise this.


[1] Nicola Frank, EBU Head of Brussels Office, Ted Shapiro, MPA Deputy Managing Director, Vice-President and General Council – Europe, Ross Biggam, ACT Director General, Isabelle Feldman, ADAMI International and Legal Affairs Director, William Bush, Premier League Director of Communications and Public Policy and Cécile Despringre, SAA Executive Director.

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