Secretary General's January Digest, 2024

January was very much about preparing our plans for this special year of the EU elections, but let’s start from where we closed 2023: AI!

EU countries agreed on the AI Act compromise text

On 2 February, the Member States’ representatives unanimously approved the political compromise on the EU Act on Artificial Intelligence reached by the EU institutions on 8 December. This approval puts en end to the uncertainty over the final adoption of the AI Act sparked by the reservations of Germany and France who wanted to weaken some of the obligations put on AI developers until the last days. The German and French cultural sectors called on the approval of the AI Act, as well as the European associations (including the SAA) on the day before the vote.

The compromise text (still to undergo legal-linguistic revision) provides the following transparency obligations

  • Providers of generative AI systems shall ensure that the output of the AI system are marked and detectable as artificially generated or manipulated (Art 52.1a);
  • Providers of general-purpose AI models shall put in place a policy to respect Union copyright law to identify and respect the reservation of rights expressed pursuant to Art 4 of the Copyright Directive (Text-and-data mining exception) (Art 52c.1c);
  • Providers of general-purpose AI models shall draw up and make publicly available a sufficiently detailed summary about the content used for training of the general-purpose AI model, according to a template provided by the AI Office (Art 52c.1d).

These transparency obligations apply to all providers on the EU market, irrespective if established outside the EU. While we do not like the reference to the text-and-data mining exception that we consider should not apply to generative AI, we welcome these transparency obligations as a positive first step towards empowering authors and their organisations to negotiate authorisation and remuneration.

SAA Expert Seminar on AI

On 30 January, we held a successful expert seminar and discussed with senior experts, academics and policy makers (see their biographies) the impact of generative AI on audiovisual authors' work and rights in Europe, in relation to - but not limited to - the EU AI Act. We started with a few words from Dalibor Matanić, SAA Patron from Croatia, about how AI is affecting filmmakers, and delved directly into the discussion on the state of play and what our organisations need to defend the authors’ rights. Axel Voss, Member of the EU Parliament and rapporteur of the 2019 Copyright directive made closing remarks in which he emphasised that AI was not considered when the Copyright Directive was drafted (in particular the text-and-data mining exception). In today's reality, we therefore need to rethink how to legally and practically make sure that authors' rights are respected, and the use of protected works remunerated. 

500 people registered for the event and 300 of them followed it on the day. The recording is now available and some take-aways will be published soon. You can also watch an interview of Vince Buyssens, who we met before the event. He is a creative digital strategist and shared some interesting and thought-provoking views on AI and its impact on the future of creative professions.

Belgian EU Council Presidency

In January, Belgium took over the Presidency of the EU Council and we met with the Intellectual Property Office to discuss the implementation of the EU copyright directives and the activities of the Belgian Presidency during the semester. Two interesting upcoming events will be a Copyright Conference on 8-9 April in Namur, where I have been invited to speak at, and a Seminar on working conditions for artists in Europe on 16 May in Brussels.

LUX Audience Award

In January the LUX Audience Award of the European Parliament continued screening the nominated films and my team and I went to see "20,000 Species of Bees" by Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren, followed by a Q&A with the director. I have now watched 4 out of the 5 shortlisted films! We are all invited to rate the films, no need to have seen all of them.

In February, Annica and I will go to Berlin for the SAA board meeting organised on the occasion of the Berlinale. I will also take on my other hat as President of Cineuropa and chair the General Assembly meeting there.

Best wishes,


My 3 reading tips: