Secretary General's September Digest, 2023

In September, we enjoyed Brussels 'Indian summer'. We welcomed the EU Parliament's clarification on EMFA Article 20, we published the SAA position on AI, discussed the Status of Artist with members, met with our Board of Directors and more. 

Let me summarise some of what we have been up to.


For months we have been working with trying to influence the EU Parliament's report on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), in particular its Article 20, to ensure that it focuses on measures liable to affect media pluralism and editorial independence and that it could not be used to challenge cultural policy measures implementing the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. I am now glad and relieved that our hard work paid off and that the large mobilisation of the European and national associations positively influenced the negotiations of the compromise amendments in the Culture committee during the summer. On 7 September, the Culture committee adopted its draft report, which was confirmed on 3 October in the plenary of the European Parliament, with an improved text that clarified Article 20, preventing the provision being used to challenge or weaken ambitious cultural policies set out by Member States to promote European audiovisual creation. Here you can read our joint press release together with 9 other European organisations in our sector. Our work does not end here thought, we will monitor the trilogue negotiations between the institutions (EU Parliament, Council and Commission) to finalise the legislation, hoping they will take on board the Parliament's position.


The topic that has taken up most of my time last months though is Artificial Intelligence. Before the summer we published a short SAA statement responding to the EU Parliament's report on the AI Act and we also issued a press release focusing on the transparency provisions of the AI Act just before the 3rd trilogue meeting. Yesterday we published our comprehensive position paper, based on hours of reading and discussions with SAA members. We have developed our views in four areas: 1) the use of audiovisual works as training data for machine learning, 2) the status of AI generated audiovisual production, 3) key principles for human-centred AI regulation that fosters creativity, and 4) specific recommendations on the EU AI Act and copyright rules. We make the point that policymakers and AI developers must put human well-being at the centre of innovation and that authors should be able to continue their creative work and make a living out of their labour and craftmanship. Now we are requesting meetings with the EU Commissioners and Members of the EU Parliament to discuss our position with them and raise authors' challenges.

Status of artists

Behind the scenes, we have been working on the Status of Artist. We studied the EU Parliament's draft report suggesting an EU framework for the social and professional situation of artists and workers in the cultural and creative sectors, and its more than 500 amendments to the report (including on fair remuneration, abusive and coercive practices of buyouts and work-for-hire, as well as on the role of CMOs, and AI). This is a joint work by the Parliament's Employment and Culture Committees. They will first vote in committee on 23 October and in plenary a month later. The Spanish EU Presidency is showing encouraging leadership by putting the topic on the agenda of EU's Ministers of Culture. The silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen in the many initiatives that have been taken in recent years: reports by the EU Commission, stakeholder consultations both on EU level and globally, and EU Parliament reports (in 2021 and now). It is a topic that interest many of our members and some countries are already offering specific protection and rights to artists, such as Spain and Belgium. Let's hope that with the work of the EU Parliament and the Presidency we can turn more nice words into action! 


Last week, we met with the SAA Board of Directors in Warsaw, hosted by our Polish member ZAPA. It is a welcomed development that the collective management organisations part of the SAA host some meetings in their own countries. This way we have the chance to get to know them better, meet their team and learn more about their activities. On our (new!) Instagram account you can see a few photos from the meeting in Warsaw.

For the occasion of the Spanish EU Presidency, we interviewed our member SGAE in SpainRead our blog post with Cristina Perpiñá-Robert who recently returned to SGAE as General Manager and who have defended authors’ rights her whole professional life.

At the Venise Film Festival, five films from Estonia, Finland, France, Germany and Spain have been shortlisted for the 2024 LUX Audience Award. The ceremony will take place in March in Brussels. You can discover the films here

Tomorrow I am off to Tampere in Finland to deliver a keynote speech on the European audiovisual copyright landscape and statutory remuneration rights and participate in a panel at the Music and Media Forum. I am looking forward to speaking on one of my favourite topics, the audiovisual authors’ rights, however I am less excited about exchanging our mild Brussels weather with the Finnish cold! 

I will be back with another update in one month, until then I wish you all the best with your professional projects and personal endeavours! 

Warm greetings,

Cécile Despringre

My 3 reading tips: