Archive for category Creative Industries

5 years of SAA

SAA_5AASAA was created 5 years ago to represent the interests of collective management organisations (or CMOs) for audiovisual authors.  When we say audiovisual authors we specifically mean screenwriters and directors of film, TV and multimedia programmes. Music composers are also authors of audiovisual works but their rights are dealt with by music CMOs.

Being created in 2010 makes us relatively young – many other European organisations in the audiovisual sector or creative industries more broadly have been around for longer.  We have grown quickly from 9 founding members to 29 members in 22 countries.  But why was there a need to create the SAA?

The founding organisations set up the SAA because they felt that, in discussions with the European institutions, too often the issues of creators and copyright were treated through the perspective of music. This may have been because the music industry is more organised than the audiovisual sector (collective rights management is commonplace) or was the first to suffer from mass unlicensed exploitation and distribution online.  However, the two sectors, although based on the same broad principles, and both relying on authors’ rights and copyright as a foundation, function very differently and many of the issues facing the different creative sectors cannot be resolved just by fixing the problems of one sector.

We also aim to improve the understanding of how Europe’s audiovisual sector works, not only how it is different to the music sector, but also how it differs from the Hollywood studio system. Production, financing, distribution, promotion and exploitation of European films do not face the same challenges as for US studios. Our national markets and SMEs are simply not comparable to the studios, let alone the internet giants. TVs also play a crucial role in financing and supporting cultural diversity in Europe that is specific to us. Europe’s audiovisual sector is therefore extremely diverse, and so is the situation of its collective management organisations.  Some CMOs manage both screenwriters and directors’ rights, others just directors, others just screenwriters.  Some countries have competing societies, others have one single organisation for all authors irrespective of the sector.  There are many misconceptions and we would like to help rectify that while bringing transparency on the work of our members.  Our main work towards this has been through our two white papers (2011 and updated in 2015) which clearly present the diverse situation of Europe’s screenwriters, directors and their CMOs.

SAA’s main focus has been on ensuring screenwriters and directors are remunerated for the use of their work (from a legal, licensed source), something that is unfortunately not the case today.  We want film and TV fans to know that when they watch a film or TV show, that the screenwriters and directors are being paid.  One off payments at the moment a film or television programme is made cut authors out of the future success of their creative works and are contrary to the principle of authors’ rights. This has to be fixed at EU level to ensure that all European authors get remuneration wherever their works are exploited in the EU.

However, while this is our lead area of action, it is obviously not our only area of work.  We care about the general condition of the sector in which screenwriters and directors work and we also want European works to be able to circulate better across Europe.  Our joint wish-list for the new 2014 European Parliament, prepared with FERA and FSE, demonstrates the range of European issues that are important to the wellbeing of Europe’s film-makers: audiovisual policy, the regulation of internet platforms, international trade, intellectual property rights’ enforcement, etc.  A look at the last 5 years of SAA’s work also demonstrates the range of issues we work on.

Authors’ rights and copyright have been identified as priority action areas by the European Commission.  It looks like the next 5 years will be just as busy.


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What can Europe do for its screenwriters and directors?

A Europe without audiovisual works is impossible to imagine. Nevertheless the fact that without authors there would be no films is constantly forgotten. Authors need a secure legal basis – copyright law – and they need collective management organisations (CMOs) to help them enforce their rights and secure fair remuneration, when this cannot be achieved on an individual basis. This has always been the case, but it applies especially in today’s digital world.

The development of copyright and authors’ rights law and copyright and authors’ rights administration law is therefore of central importance for the creators, and for the creative economy. In recent years the driving force for legislation in these areas has increasingly been on the European level: examples are the Directives on orphan works in 2012 and collective rights management in 2014. Further initiatives can be expected from the European Commission. In this situation the authors of audiovisual works and their national CMOs need a strong voice in Europe.

The second edition of SAA’s white paper on audiovisual authors’ rights and remuneration in Europe will be launched in Brussels on 23rd March.  It describes the current situation of screenwriters and directors, and their CMOs, in Europe, and contains concrete proposals for future legislation. In short, it gives an overview of the basic work of the SAA in the next few years.

We hope that many will be able to join us in Brussels on 23rd March and that the White Paper will be circulated as widely as possible.

Guest post from SAA Vice-President, Robert Staats, CEO of VG Wort, Germany

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Saint Nick’s Creative Policy Puzzle

On the eve of Saint Nick’s visit to the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and the eastern and western reaches of France and Germany respectively, an old-fashioned game themed post.

European policy making is something of a jigsaw.  As kids get older (and become big kids sometimes) they seek increasingly complex jigsaws.  Not to belittle their achievements, but we could think of the early European policy jigsaw as a small puzzle with a small number of large pieces.

As Europe has grown, so has the policy puzzle.

We now have a huge jigsaw and some policy areas are very much like doing the blue sky in a landscape puzzle.  Lots of blue pieces, seemingly the same colour, but each definitely only having one spot in the completed picture.

I wonder if the creative industries aren’t one of these blue skies, with so many different stakeholders with so many different nuances.

On 2nd December we learnt that these industries are one of the biggest in Europe in terms of jobs (especially for young people) and turnover.  The European Commission want to support these industries so that they reach more Europeans.  But the music industry isn’t the film industry, and the publishing industry isn’t the video game industry, so how do we fit all the policy puzzle pieces together to put our blue sky together?

The last 5 years has seen the Commission and stakeholders doing the equivalent of organising the puzzle pieces into hues and shapes.  There are now two recent studies showing the economic importance of the cultural and creative industries.  Economic and legal studies have been commissioned into the remuneration of creators, the European Parliament has published a study on the same issue.  The Commission has researched the different exceptions to authors’ rights and copyright, the demand for cross-border access to creative works and the needs of distributors.  Everyone has been consulted on authors’ rights and copyright, converged media, taxation and more.

The finished image is starting to take shape but does this Commission have the patience to put the final pieces together correctly or will it start rushing to put pieces together that do not fit?  Getting the beautiful blue sky of the creative industries right is surely worth the extra effort.


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