The adverse effect of contractual freedom
Part of the problem with Piracy is that many fans don’t feel that they are giving anything to the creator, just to a big faceless company. While this is obviously a simplistic view (most European producers are not that big and I doubt such fans check the size of the company before deciding whether to download legally or not) the reality in the audiovisual sector is that it is doubtful much (if any) of the money handed over will reach the authors.
Some parts of Europe’s audiovisual industry have to understand that their current stance is part of what repulses some people about copyright. Some of the hardest pirates think that the authors should be paid.
Contractual freedom is a great thing, but when it is proven not to work then things have to be changed. SAA, FERA and FSE called for an end to buyouts as a bad situation is simply getting worse. Without European level legislative intervention the motivation to create will drift off into the sunset.
We could turn our heads to Hollywood. How does that work? Wasn’t there a strike a couple of years ago? Essentially, in Hollywood the screenwriters and directors are employees. In Europe they are considered freelancers. Competition law in some EU countries stops freelancers working together to set rates (journalists have been affected the same way).
While we might disagree on how exactly we could get better deals for screenwriters and directors, all authors’ organisations do agree on one thing. These authors must not be on their own as part of the negotiation of their contract.
The European Parliament is preparing a report on the distribution of audiovisual works online (Cavada’s report). Two previous parliament reports have called for fair remuneration for authors. Such support is obviously welcome but does not actually help change things.
This time the European Parliament has to send a strong message to the European Commission that there is an urgent need to change things.
Sign the petition calling for an end to buyout contracts here. Spread the word.