Archive for category SAA Conference

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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SAA Conference – authors in the audiovisual value chain (part 2)

So, as Commissioner Kroes said, authors should be at the heart of copyright.  She used the word ‘should’.  Does that mean that they are not?

Looking at this slightly differently, why not look at the role of authors within the value chain of their industry?  There will be an introductory session as part of Audiovisual Authors Online – Seizing the Digital Revolution, the conference we are organising next week, which will try to nail down exactly that.

The author is where the initial idea or spark happens, but if he’s not supported by a series of other players then there may never be a flame or a fire.

Screenwriters and directors need to work with producers, many often forge long term creative partnerships with them over a number of projects, others set up their own production companies.  The producers then continue to secure funding whether through national support schemes or other partner with pre-financing through exclusive agreements with new co-producers, local distributors, broadcasters, international sales agents and international distributors.

This is how European films are brought to the cinema, television and to online platforms and DVD.  By the time the author’s work has reached these stages there has usually been a number of years since the initial spark and the signing of their first contract and a lot more people between the author and the revenue generated by his initial idea.

Our introductory session will be kicked off by British writer Paul Powell.  Paul has already written a great piece on the life of a comedy writer here and I’m sure his presentation will be fascinating.  He will be followed by a discussion between authors Stijn Coninx, Francis Nielsen, Janusz Kijowski and Andrew Chowns of Directors UK.  We’re honoured to have the session moderated by German MEP Helga Trüpel who has long been a defender of authors’ rights and who I’m sure will get the discussion flowing.

The full programme for the day, registration information for the afternoon and more information on all our speakers can be found here.  There aren’t many places left now so please sign up quickly to make sure you get a seat.

With that I will leave you with the trailer for the film we will be screening (French with English subtitles) after the conference – LUX Prize winner Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro by Robert Guédiguian.
LES NEIGES DU KILIMANDJARO- Bande-annonce par diaphana

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SAA Conference – Authors in the Audiovisual Value Chain (part 1)

Today I was going to publish a blog about the introductory section of our panel –authors in the audiovisual value chain. It seems however that Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, beat me to it. In her speech at the Forum d’Avignon and blog post, Mrs Kroes doubled very much what I would say about the audiovisual authors that our members represent. That they should be at the centre of copyright and beyond that at the centre of Europe’s policy on culture and growth. That copyright should be the tool that rewards them for their efforts.

If you have been following the work of SAA you will know that we are currently working hard on our proposal for authors to be remunerated based on each online access (whether by download or stream, subscription or a la carte) of their works. Europe’s movie buffs as well as the casual film fan would be confident that for every film they watch the author is being remunerated. The beauty of digital goes further as Mrs Kroes points out. It has extraordinary potential for transparency and tracking of uses of works, making remuneration distribution ever more accurate and efficient.

Mrs Kroes suggested that some stakeholders were afraid of the arrival of Netflix. I can assure her that directors and screenwriters want their films to reach new, wider audiences and that any services that do that while remunerating their creators would be welcomed with open arms. The current financing structures for EU films mean that producers get the money from wherever they can and if taking the film from a project to a reality means handing over certain territorial rights then so be it. That could evolve, though, if new sources of financing develop in the future with the arrival of new online services. The current system hasn’t stopped success stories, as Aviva Silver mentioned at the recent ACT conference in Brussels, “The Lives of Others” directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck , despite its 52 sources of funding (including MEDIA), won the best foreign language film Oscar.

Finally, Mrs Kroes was 100% right for VAT. Her example for books has its equivalent in the audiovisual world. Why can films at the cinema and on TV be at one VAT rate, while DVD and VOD are at another? So, with Commissioner Kroes having taken the words out of my mouth, look out for my post on the first part of our panel in the coming days. Soon we’ll be announcing some more names for our conference. Registrations are coming in pretty quickly so make sure you sign up here to get a place.


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