Posts Tagged Europe

Who are Europe’s audiovisual authors ?

Europe is in the process of changing legislation on authors’ rights / copyright in Europe. The texts refer to the need for sector specific solutions for authors in different sectors.

This is also the starting point for SAA’s infographic on audiovisual authors’ remuneration (available in English, French, German and Spanish with a video here). The infographic focuses on screenwriters and directors but, as is often the case in Europe, the situation is a little bit more complicated than that.

So who are the authors of an audiovisual work?


In the countries where SAA has members, this means that directors, screenwriters and music composers are always audiovisual authors. Given that composers have their rights managed by music societies, SAA focusses on the needs of:


But, as shown above, in some countries other contributors, e.g. the director of photography or the costume designer can be an audiovisual author too.

Together, SAA’s members manage rights for


Not only are these the people behind our favourite films, documentaries and TV series, but they are also at the source of Europe’s creativity as well as its cultural and linguistic diversity. Some examples:


See SAA’s infographic [FR, ES], and keep an eye on this blog to find out more about the working lives of audiovisual authors and the challenges they face.




, , , , ,

Leave a comment

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.


, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Fair remuneration for creators – turning words into actions

Andrus Ansip: “We need to ensure a fair remuneration of all those involved in the creative sector.”

Günther Oettinger:


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.


, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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

, , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

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

, , , , , , ,

1 Comment

The Cross-border question – financing, exploiting & remunerating

Last year I wrote in the German press about the frustration of seeing unlicensed copies of my work freely available and easy to find on the internet and the absence of legal services delivering the full range of European films I would expect.  I wanted to be provocative to strike the contrast between my expectations and the market delivery, but I also wanted to show that there are possible solutions.  I suggested creating compulsory licences for European audiovisual works. A little bit like the radio where any works can be used but where remuneration is due to the authors and other rightholders.

One of the most frustrating things for screenwriters like me is to talk to someone about a film I helped make and for that person to discover that they are unable to watch it legally.

And I am a lucky author, my film Sophie Scholl was sold to many territories and is generally available.  My next film, Elser, has already sold around the world.  Other films I have worked on have not been so lucky.  I very much understand the frustrations of film fans who can’t find the films they have heard about.

But I also have another hat, that of a film producer.

The reality is that the climate for the financing of European works is very difficult and very modest productions often involve a number of different investors from different countries.  My authors’ rights in the script I write are for the world.  But as a producer I know that very often the only way to finance the actual production means selling off bits of those rights to different investors, sometimes territory by territory.  Any push for pan-European licences cannot ignore this point: if it deprives us from possible investors, European production and distribution will suffer very much.

If I put my author’s hat back on, I think we also need to look at the problem from another angle. If we want works to be available cross-borders then we also need to guarantee authors – screenwriters and directors – that their remuneration for the use of their films will flow back to them.  At the moment, for a variety of reasons, this doesn’t really happen.

If our creative works are to be available across-borders then our remuneration should also flow across borders. We therefore need EU new remuneration mechanisms that associate authors’ remuneration to the exploitation of their works.

Fred Breinersdorfer

Screenwriter, producer and SAA patron

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

From creative gold dust to just dust

The new Commission, and Europe in general, must stop paying lip service to creation. There are more and more reports that underline the social and economic contribution of cultural and creative sectors.

Last month, another such study showed that the creative sector represents 6.8% of European GDP (€860b) and 6.5% of employment.

We also hear of the “spill-over effects” of these sectors.

Tourism to destinations made famous by films and books has been well known for some time. Films like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey probably inspired as many scientists, engineers and astronauts as it did film-makers. Creative works can teach us about our history and the world around us as well as an understanding of other languages and cultures.

But despite these positive messages, the reality is that austerity driven European governments have cut back on spending on culture and continue to do so.

The new Belgian government has just announced massive cuts in its cultural support. Just a few weeks ago the Rome Opera sacked its orchestra. Spain’s cultural economy, whose industry has been massacred by unlicensed exploitation of works online, has seen over €100m taken out of the creative economy through private copying reform alongside cuts for cultural venues and production support.

Creativity should be the ultimate source of sustainable value creation. The wonder of creation is that it starts from the mind or minds of its creators. It creates value almost out of nothing.

Creators should not be considered as disposable. They are not mines, that once exploited are left empty, on one side. Poor remuneration can only be counterbalanced by a love for their profession for so long. The sector has proved resilient during the crisis, but how long can that last?

Treated properly, creators are renewable sources of works and ideas but also inspiration for other creators and innovators. Europe needs to promote and invest in its creative sectors not cut them back.

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: