Posts Tagged Audiovisual Authors

Audiovisual Authors’ Remuneration

Our infographic is also available in French, German, Spanish and Croatian with a video available here. #AVauthorsRemunerationsaa_avauthorsremuneration

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Commission study calls for action on authors’ remuneration

Far be it from us to think the European Commission doesn’t want anyone to read its study on the remuneration of authors and performers in the audiovisual and music sectors, but we’re a bit concerned some of you may have missed that late Friday afternoon publication towards the end of July.  As an organisation that has been highlighting the poor situation of screenwriters and directors, this is a study we have been eagerly awaiting.  So, what does it say?

The study finds clear problems that prevent authors from enjoying the full benefit of the exclusive rights conferred upon them by numerous European Directives.

The key finding is that transparency is a problem which is having an impact on the internal market.  This means the European Commission can look into issues such as contractual negotiations which are usually considered sovereign to the countries in the EU.  The study puts forward 2 proposals to tackle this. The first is clear contracts that identify which rights (e.g. making available, rental) are being transferred for which means of exploitation (e.g. cinema, rental, VOD) and the level of remuneration for each right and exploitation method.  Precedents for laws that provide for transparency exists in both the Netherlands and France.  The second is to ensure that this transparency applies cross-border and that authors and performers can understand different national systems (although it’s doubtful that knowledge of the best legal jurisdiction would see authors moving to countries where they don’t speak the language or have contacts with people in the industry are what will guarantee them work…).

The next 2 proposals focus on strengthening authors and performers both individually (by limiting the scope for transferring rights for future works and exploitation methods) and collectively so that they can negotiate collectively and rectify their weak negotiating position.  This means making it possible for authors to get a good, transparent deal and not be tied into long, unfair contracts.

Finally, and significantly for us, the study identifies SAA’s proposal for a collectively managed unwaivable right to remuneration as a solution to the issue of authors’ remuneration.  We believe that this is the only way authors will be able to be transparently and effectively remunerated for the multiple online exploitations that will develop in the coming years.

Any complaints?

A few.  Unfortunately the study was not able to obtain exploitable statistics for the remuneration of screenwriters and directors in the 10 countries examined.  The authors of the study recognise the poor quality of their economic survey and therefore did not take it into account in their recommendations. There are surely many reasons behind this failure (as well as the number one key finding – the situation just isn’t transparent, including for the authors themselves) but it has deprived us of the opportunity to demonstrate once and for all the poor remuneration situation of screenwriters and directors.

The legal analysis for the different countries (the main input to the debate as the economic survey was not exploitable) is presented in a confused way, giving anecdotal examples of the impact of particular national conditions on, say, music performers or screenwriters, without presenting a complete consistent image of the legal framework of the 10 countries.

On top of that, the published audiovisual sector analysis seems to be heavily based upon documents dating from 2011 or older, despite the European Audiovisual Observatory publishing high quality yearly statistics.  Some of the analysis is based on a 2001 document from the European Investment Bank.  Given the rate of change of the audiovisual sector, these sources cannot give a fair representation of the current state of Europe’s audiovisual sector.

Finally, the policy proposals fail to offer the dual approach that SAA believes necessary to resolve the challenges faced by screenwriters and directors.  We need to focus on both the contract negotiation stage and enforcement at the exploitation stage in parallel.  To focus on one, won’t solve the problem of the other.  The first proposal is a clear element that has precedent in different European countries.  The others should not be considered as ‘either/or’ options, or implemented one after the other to see which one works.  Authors need better contracts at the production stage and fair remuneration at the exploitation stage.

This new study has brought forward additional proof that action is needed.  A legislative proposal from the Commission is the next step.


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Political pick n mix before the copyright show

As a kid, one my treats was to get a pick n mix bag of sweets before going to watch a film.  I’d have to share choices with my sister and friends who’d throw in a couple I didn’t like, but it was all part of the excitement of going to the cinema.

The last 3 months have seen the members of the legal affairs committee play pick n mix with paragraphs and compromise amendments on Ms Reda’s report assessing the implementation of the 2001 copyright directive before the Commission launches its reform proposal (the main picture) later in the year.

There are a variety of different ‘copyright’ tastes in the committee so the discussions have been long- if the Commission hadn’t pushed back its own timetable they’d have missed the beginning of the main event.

The adoption of report on 16th June seemed to promote happy celebration from all political groups, quite rightly so, they had dedicated such a lot of time to put something to the committee that could be agreed upon.  They deserve a lot of credit for their patience and perseverance.

Outside the Parliament, there was less enthusiasm with relatively few public statements being made, and many of those to express disappointment on specific points.  With over 500 amendments submitted to the final draft and 31 compromise amendments (some of which were being negotiated up to the last minute), it was certainly difficult for us to have a clear view of what had been adopted and what hadn’t.

The final result is a diluted pick n mix, there is something for most people’s copyright tastes but very bold statements either way are generally lacking.  The report is a huge improvement on Ms Reda’s extreme draft.  The initial reaction from political groups seemed to leave her isolated and possibly unable to get a report through.  Ms Reda has, at her own admission, made a lot of compromises to get this through.  However, there are still so many provisions, no matter how weak, that question authors’ rights, that it is difficult to see it as a ‘good’ report.

As an example, there are multiple provisions which call for authors to be fairly remunerated for the online exploitation of their works.  Unfortunately these provisions stop short of making calls for concrete initiatives that would guarantee such fair remuneration.  The reversion right is the only thing that is included but is something that, although it might work in other sectors, would be of questionable practical value to screenwriters and directors.  We should maybe even be happy just to see the word ‘remuneration’ used. At one point in negotiations it had been replaced by ‘compensation’.

The compromise-ridden final report demonstrates the difficulty of trying to address too many issues.  Too many different elements come into play and get negotiated off against each other.  European copyright harmonisation has mainly involved identifying specific issues and dealing with those.  The number of provisions in this final report that calls upon the Commission to (or other bodies) to investigate or examine removing or implementing certain solutions or tools, suggests that any legislative initiative in those areas would get bogged down in long discussions and affect areas where a need for action is already clearly defined. Focussed action from the Commission will be needed if they are to achieve anything in a reasonable timeframe.

The Parliament is certainly now warmed up and aware of the stakes.  Pick n mix in hand, they can now start jostling for good seats for the main feature.


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The Diversity of Creation in Danger

Version française ici

We are Europeans. We are authors. We are consumers. We are story tellers whose works tell the tales of our continent.  We are here to help write the story of Europe’s future, a bright future. We are characters in it. We want it to be a classic and source of inspiration for future generations.

We are Europeans, surprised to be a key storyline. One of the priorities of the European Commission’s mandate, chaired by Jean-Claude Juncker, is to reform copyright as if our rights were a villain to be vanquished.

We are Europeans who reject this divisive discourse opposing the public, our audience, to creators. Our greatest desire is that our works are watched by as many people as possible, find their audience and flow across borders, including online. Often, the supposed barriers have nothing to do with authors’ rights, but everything to do with business practices.

We are Europeans who can exercise our art thanks to authors’ rights and the existence of effective yet fragile policies in support of the audiovisual sector.  Effective because they allow artists and authors to contribute to the values, cohesion and identity of a Europe in need of direction, while providing jobs and economic growth. Fragile because, in too many countries hit by the economic crisis, budget cuts have undermined cultural ambitions and the funding of creation. They have destabilised companies and creators who drive the European creation and diversity so envied around the world.

We are Europeans, convinced that in a globalised world, the risk is uniformity and our strength, the strength of Europe, is diversity, of its languages, its cultures and its identities.

We are Europeans who still hear the echo of President Juncker saying he would never accept creators being “treated like plastic manufacturers”, but now hear his College compare our work with selling a car or a tie. Forgotten is the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, ratified by the European Union. Forgotten is the unique nature of cultural goods that are not goods like any others.

We are Europeans shocked to hear of “breaking down national silos in copyright” yet nothing to condemn ongoing violations of copyright, which hinder the development of online legal services. Non-enforcement of our authors’ rights from the beginning of the creative chain to the end is the primary problem of copyright and it requires courage, determination and common sense from our political leaders.

We are Europeans that are convinced that the European Commission’s will to challenge the copyright system and territoriality of rights, would undermine the remuneration of many authors who already live in difficult conditions, would endanger the funding of creation and would lead to the empowerment of giant, non-European Internet platforms, often the only ones able to acquire the rights for several territories.

We are Europeans who love the Internet and the opportunities it gives us to create and make our works available. The digital revolution is a new, uplifting act, if it is not hijacked by digital monopolies active in Europe, if it no longer allows aggressive tax planning or evasion practices, that it facilitates today, and if it does not turn its back on European history and its vocation to be a land of creation.

We are Europeans who want to be actors of a Europe that promotes the rights, and in turn the freedom and independence, of its authors. A Europe where everyone is empowered to create and innovate. A Europe that is a cultural power because of its cultural diversity.

Chantal Akerman – Director, Belgium

Robert Alberdingk Thijm – Screenwriter, The Netherlands

Julie Bertuccelli – Director, France

Fred Breinersdorfer – Screenwriter, Germany

Borja Cobeaga – Screenwriter, Spain

Costa-Gavras – Screenwriter and director, France

Luc Dardenne – Screenwriter and director, Belgium

Jochen Greve – Screenwriter, Germany

Michel Hazanavicius – Director, France

Agnès Jaoui – Screenwriter and director, France

Cédric Klapisch – Screenwriter and director, France

Paul Powell – Screenwriter, UK

Di Redmond – Screenwriter, UK

Volker Schlöndorff – Screenwriter and director, Germany

Hugh Stoddart – Screenwriter, UK

Danis Tanovic – Screenwriter and director, Bosnia

Bertrand Tavernier – Screenwriter and Director, France

Marco Tullio Giordana – Director, Italy

Jaco Van Dormael – Scénariste et réalisateur, Belgique

Susanna White – Director, UK

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La Diversité de la Création en Danger

Nous sommes des Européens. Nous sommes des auteurs. Nous sommes des consommateurs. Nous racontons des histoires qui construisent les récits de notre continent. Nous sommes ici pour contribuer à écrire l’avenir de l’Europe, un avenir radieux. Nous sommes des acteurs de cette histoire. Nous voulons qu’elle soit un classique et une source d’inspiration pour les générations futures.

Nous sommes des Européens, surpris de nous retrouver au cœur de l’intrigue. Une des priorités du mandat de la Commission européenne, sous la présidence de Jean-Claude Juncker, est de réformer le droit d’auteur, comme si nos droits étaient un ennemi qu’il fallait combattre.

Nous sommes des Européens qui refusons ce discours de division qui oppose le public, notre public, aux créateurs. Notre désir le plus cher est que nos œuvres soient vues le plus largement possible, rencontrent les spectateurs et circulent au-delà des frontières, y compris en ligne. Bien souvent, les blocages qui sont pointés du doigt n’ont rien à voir avec le droit d’auteur mais tout à voir avec des pratiques commerciales.

Nous sommes des Européens qui pouvons exercer notre art grâce au droit d’auteur et à l’existence de politiques de soutien à l’audiovisuel et au cinéma qui sont aussi efficaces que fragiles. Efficaces car elles ont permis aux artistes et aux auteurs d’apporter leur contribution aux valeurs, à la cohésion et à l’identité d’une Europe en quête de repères, tout en participant à la création d’emplois et à la croissance économique. Fragiles car dans de trop nombreux pays européens, touchés par la crise économique, les restrictions budgétaires ont remis en cause l’ambition culturelle et le financement de la création. Elles ont déstabilisé des entreprises et des créateurs qui sont les moteurs de cette création et de la diversité européennes, qui nous sont enviées aux quatre coins du monde.

Nous sommes des Européens convaincus que dans un monde globalisé, le risque est bien celui de l’uniformisation et notre force, la force de l’Europe, c’est sa diversité, celle de ses langues, de ses cultures et de ses identités.

Nous sommes des Européens qui pouvons encore entendre l’écho des paroles du président Juncker disant qu’il  n’accepterait jamais que les créateurs soient « traités comme des fabricants de plastique » mais qui entendons à présent certains de ses commissaires comparer notre travail à la vente de voitures ou de cravates. Oubliée la Convention de l’UNESCO de 2005 sur la protection et la promotion de la diversité culturelle, pourtant ratifiée par l’Union européenne ! Oubliée la spécificité des biens culturels qui ne sont pas des biens comme les autres !

Nous sommes des Européens choqués d’entendre le président de la Commission parler de « briser les barrières nationales du droit d’auteur » sans un seul mot pour dénoncer les violations incessantes du droit d’auteur qui minent le développement des offres légales. Car le non-respect du droit d’auteur du début à la fin de la chaîne de création est bien là le premier problème du droit d’auteur qui appelle de la part de nos responsables politiques du courage, de la détermination et du bon sens.

Nous sommes des Européens convaincus que la volonté de la Commission européenne de remettre en cause le système du droit d’auteur et la territorialité des droits viendrait fragiliser les rémunérations de nombreux auteurs qui vivent aujourd’hui dans des conditions difficiles, aboutirait à déstabiliser le financement de la création et conduirait à renforcer le pouvoir des plateformes Internet non européennes, ces géants qui sont souvent les seuls à pouvoir acquérir les droits pour plusieurs territoires.

Nous sommes des Européens qui aimons Internet et les opportunités qu’il offre pour créer et rendre plus facilement disponibles les œuvres. La révolution numérique, c’est le début d’une nouvelle histoire qui sera belle et heureuse si elle n’est pas confisquée par quelques entreprises numériques en situation de monopole en Europe, si elle ne permet plus les pratiques d’optimisation, pour ne pas dire d’évasion fiscale qu’elle facilite aujourd’hui et si elle ne tourne pas le dos à l’histoire européenne et à sa vocation de terre de création.

Nous sommes des Européens qui voulons être les acteurs d’une Europe qui promeut les droits et avec eux, la liberté et l’indépendance de ses auteurs. Une Europe où tout le monde peut créer et innover. Une Europe qui se vit comme une puissance culturelle grâce à sa diversité culturelle.

Chantal Akerman – Réalisatrice, Belgique

Robert Alberdingk Thijm – Scénariste, Pays Bas

Julie Bertuccelli – Réalisatrice, France

Fred Breinersdorfer – Scénariste, Allemagne

Luc Dardenne – Scénariste et réalisateur, Belgique

Borja Cobeaga – Scénariste, Espagne

Costa-Gavras – Scénariste et réalisateur, France

Jochen Greve – Scénariste, Allemagne

Michel Hazanavicius – Réalisateur, France

Agnès Jaoui – Scénariste et réalisatrice, France

Cédric Klapisch – Scénariste et réalisateur, France

Paul Powell – Scénariste, Royaume-Uni

Di Redmond – Scénariste, Royaume-Uni

Volker Schlöndorff – Scénariste et réalisateur, Allemagne

Hugh Stoddart – Scénariste, Royaume-Uni

Danis Tanovic – Scénariste et réalisateur, Bosnie

Bertrand Tavernier – Screenwriter and Director, France

Marco Tullio Giordana – Director, Italie

Jaco Van Dormael – Scénariste et réalisateur, Belgique

Susanna White – Réalisatrice, Royaume-Uni

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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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Between a rock and a hard place

The recent report by Green Pirate MEP Julia Reda really hammers home how the polarisation of the authors’ rights/ copyright debate has made it difficult for creators to talk about the future of their industry.  The latest blog post by Ms Reda asserts as much, too.

If authors defend their rights, they are anti-progress suffering from some sort of Stockholm syndrome for their industry oppressors.  If authors’ defend improving availability of works, they support the weakening of their European business partners and ultimately their ability to make films.

What’s an author to do?

Look at the recent case of independent musician Zoe Keating in the States.  As an individual artist, who has deliberately eschewed record labels to have control of her work and its distribution (she uploaded her own albums to torrent sites), she has no power to negotiate with an operator like Google’s You Tube.

Some creative works, like audiovisual works, sit in a special place between industry and culture.  It’s what makes policy making in this area complex.  It’s what puts creators in a difficult place when negotiating contracts – do I risk being unable to make my film by negotiating harder?  Do I risk never working with a producer again by criticising them for not remunerating me properly?

It also puts them in a difficult position in the copyright debate.  Ask a creator “would you rather your works were available across Europe or just in some countries?” – They will answer, “Across Europe, of course.” They also want them subtitled and dubbed for all the languages too, though.  Ask them if they would prefer people to watch their new film on the big screen or a computer screen and they would answer that they of course prefer a large number of cinemas to release it. But some would also be happy to offer VOD experience to remote areas with no cinemas. Ask them if they mind someone making a mash-up using their work, they’d probably say of course not.  But ask that permission be required to ensure their moral rights are respected, and their work can’t be used in a way they feel inappropriate.

These questions are not that simple for individual creators to answer. If you add the industrial reality of their sector, it does not simplify it at all.

The industrial side of the sector, the part that looks for investment and to cover financial risk, means pan-European distribution is not the norm for European works.  The marketing around films is still, for the most part, focussed around the cinema release with success driving subsequent value.  Mash-ups or remixes that disrespect a work or make money (either for the remixer or remix hosting service) without sharing those revenues with the other creators need legal recourse.

Does this debate really oppose consumers against rightsholders? There are many companies who also stand to benefit financially from reducing the value and scope of licences for creative works.  These companies claim to defend consumer choice and squeeze the creative value chain in order to provide lower prices. As always, those squeezed the most are at the bottom of the chain.

Audiovisual works are expensive to make.  Investment is already difficult to find. Creators want to create, they want their works to find an audience.  But creation does not happen in a vacuum.  Creators without collective power are lost against their industry partners and the new online gatekeepers to their audience.

Weakening the weakest link in the chain seems an odd place to start in achieving a European Digital Single Market.


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