The other evening, I re-watched ‘Notting Hill’ on Netflix. While millions of people are still enjoying the romantic comedy from the 90s, director, Roger Michell, has never received any royalties for the countless times his film is being viewed online.
Many believe that this is unfair, in fact almost 17,000 people worldwide agree that European directors and screenwriters deserve a right to remuneration for the use of their works, offline as well as online.
I only started working for SAA at the beginning of this year, while colleagues, members (collective management societies) and partner organisations have been tirelessly working for several years to improve the situation for screenwriters and directors (read about 2017). SAA has organised multiple events and meetings in the European Parliament, bringing together authors to meet politicians and share their testimonies, as well as providing them with examples of solutions that have been proven to work in several countries within and outside Europe.
On 20 June, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee will vote on the new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. It has been a long and uphill race against powerful and resourced broadcasters and producers who have put pressure on Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) not to act in this field. Unfortunately, the whole discussion on the new Copyright Directive has been more about the creative industries in a digital era in general, rather than on the actual impact on individual creators, without whom there would not be any industry. Our concern to adapt audiovisual authors’ rights to the digital era has received little attention, especially as bystanding media and press have mainly been interested in the so-called “transfer of value/value gap”, concerning the music sector and platforms’ such as YouTube, and the new press publishers’ right against Google. Only a limited number of parliamentarians have participated. Most do not even watch the race; they simply follow the line of their political group.
As the EU Council overlooked the right to fair remuneration when finalising its own agreement, it is now in the hands of the Parliament to introduce such a provision. If it does not set the bar high enough to start with, there is a risk that the negotiations will result in a toothless Directive (if any!). Therefore, at the end of the day, the vote in the Legal Affairs Committee will determine whether the discussion on the screenwriters and directors’ right to remuneration in Europe in the digital age will continue in the trialogue negotiation or stop now, with no further opportunity for at least the next decade to come (before there might be another opportunity to revise EU legislation).
MEPs have been exceptionally and forcefully lobbied from all directions on this file. We therefore appreciate the time and effort MEPs, from across the political spectrum, have taken to listen to us and support our call. We trust them to vote this week for the best option for directors and screenwriters to obtain fair and proportionate remuneration for the exploitation of their works online.
126 prominent screenwriters and directors across Europe have come together to call on the legislators of the European Union to seize the momentum of the adoption of the Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market to support Europe’s creators in the online environment.