Since copyright was made a priority right at the beginning of the new European Commission mandate, we have heard about the importance of fair remuneration to creators.
As an organisation that has called for fair remuneration for screenwriters and directors since our creation we have been very pleased to hear this.
Then the Digital Single Market Strategy came out. It calls for the clarification of the rules on the activities of intermediaries in relation to copyright-protected content and in the comments it explicitly says:
“Measures to safeguard fair remuneration of creators also need to be considered in order to encourage the future generation of content.”
The Commission staff working document accompanying the Strategy highlights: “content creators are generally concerned about the fairness of remuneration conditions. The fragmentation of national legislation in that area could create difficulties for the providers of multi-territorial services in the internal market as they have to comply with a variety of different legal requirements for the remuneration of authors and performers for online exploitation within the EU. Two studies investigating these issues are currently underway and should become available in the course of 2015.”
The European Commission is finalising the first study on the remuneration of authors and performers from the audiovisual and music sectors to be published by the summer. While we are eagerly awaiting to see the results, our own experience suggests that the case for screenwriters and directors is already shockingly clear. As summarised in our white paper on audiovisual authors’ rights and remuneration in Europe (executive summary here), SAA’s members only collect 0.37% of the European audiovisual market for distribution to screenwriters and directors. The Federation of Screenwriters in Europe found in a survey of its members that the median income of screenwriters was just 22,000€ per year. From a Digital Single Market point of view, remuneration needs to flow back to authors for any exploitation of their works, irrespective of where in the EU country it happens. One of the most important problem to be fixed by the Digital Single Market Strategy is to ensure that creators get a fair remuneration for the exploitation of their works. When a Spanish screenwriter’s film is shown in Poland, he should be remunerated accordingly.
Time for encouraging statements is now coming to an end. The Commission is expected to publish a legislative proposal before the end of the year. If we want a digital single market that works for consumers, business AND authors then fair remuneration has to be a part of it.