Will 2018 be a Happy New Year for Audiovisual Authors?

The beginning of 2018 will most likely be the end of long and intense negotiations leading up to a final adoption of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. The Directive proposal was presented by the European Commission in September 2016, and we have now reached the final stages of discussions.

The European Parliament and the Council will decide on their own position probably end of March, and then enter into negotiations with each other and the Commission (so called tripartite interinstitutional negotiations, known as trilogues). These negotiations can last quite long, so nobody knows if it will be the Bulgarian or Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU which will reap the benefits of concluding this dossier.

For audiovisual authors, 2018 will be a happy year only if their claim for an unwaivable right to remuneration for the on-demand exploitation of their works is taken on board. If not, it will be an annus horribilis that could last for a decade or more.

This EU Copyright Directive is a historic opportunity for audiovisual authors that must be seized. With the European elections in 2019, a new Parliament being elected, and a new Commission being appointed, there is very little chance that a new copyright reform will be proposed while Member States will be implementing this one. Looking back, the last comprehensive Copyright Directive was adopted in 2001, 17 years ago…

Not acting to ensure audiovisual authors are remunerated for the on-demand exploitation of their works would be ignoring a prominent category of creators – screenwriters and directors - that Europe is usually proud to celebrate at film festivals. Denying the needs and interest of audiovisual authors would not only be disrespectful but also unfair as other categories of rightholders are, on the contrary, specifically taken care of by the Directive, such as the music industry and press publishers.

As the Society of Audiovisual Authors, we have explained the challenges audiovisual authors face in the digital era (infographic), brought evidence of the failure of the internal market (white paper), proposed a solution inspired by existing national legislation and EU concepts (video) and debunked myths on how it would work.

It is now time for the EU legislators to act for a copyright reform that makes 2018 a Happy New Year for all European creators.