Secretary General's February Digest, 2024

For me, February always feels too short (even with one day more) and involves two opposing activities: meetings and networking at the Berlinale on one hand and withdrawing to my office to finalise the last year's activity report and prepare for the upcoming SAA General Assembly meeting on the other hand.


In Berlin, an SAA board delegation met with our colleagues from the Federation of European Screen Directors (FERA) and the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE), our first in-person meeting at this level for a long time! It was great to exchange on our respective priorities and how we can further our cooperation on defending authors' rights in the light of generative AI and the newly adopted EU AI Act, and on addressing the EU elections and the threats on the freedom of artistic expression and cultural diversity. We committed to closer collaboration among our three organisations’ executives to elaborate further proposals

The day after, the SAA Board of Directors met, and unsurprisingly, discussed the newly adopted EU AI Act and what it means for audiovisual authors and their CMOs. As the SAA expert seminar on 30 January concluded (read the 5 takeaways), the AI Act is not the end of the copyright debate, it is only the beginning. 

In Brussels, we met with the EU Commission's unit responsible for AI, to discuss their role in drafting the template for the summary of the content used for training AI and in checking that AI providers put in place a policy to respect Union copyright law. We made it clear that we wanted to be part of the conversation. Annica and I also met with the cabinet of EU Commissioner Ivanova responsible for Culture and Research, to raise the alarm about the impact of AI on jobs in the cultural sector and the flaws of an undifferentiated application of the TDM exception to generative AI. The SAA will continue working on the role of CMOs in representing the authors in the face of AI companies and how to ensure remuneration for the use of their works.

Ironically, earlier this week the French company Mistral AI, who championed the absence of rules in the AI Act for EU start-ups and was well introduced within the French government, announced a partnership with Microsoft. This raises a lot of questions that MEPs have immediately brought up in a letter to the Commission on possible conflicts of interests and transparency issues about Mistral's lobbying on the AI Act.

During the Berlinale, I also chaired the general assembly meeting of Cineuropa, made of representatives of all the components of the audiovisual sector (directors, producers, distributors, sales’ agents, exhibitors, festivals, film agencies, etc). I enjoy this complementary mission as Cineuropa is the go-to portal for information about cinema, with news articles and interviews by a network of journalists from all across Europe. Before heading back to Brussels, I caught up with German and European colleagues and attended several interesting panels at the European Film Market, about the ecosystem for European content, generative AI in film and series and distribution trends for online releases, just to mention a few.

2023 Activity report

Ahead of the SAA's general assembly meeting on 20 March, I have summed up our 2023 activities. Each year I am equally amazed by how much my small team and I accomplished in one year.

The four of us (and a trainee) are responsive to the questions and needs of our 33 CMO members, handling 4 working groups, organising 4 board meetings and 2 annual meetings with members. In 2023, we also organised 3 events, partnered on 2 screenings, made 12 presentations at different occasions all over Europe, published 14 press releases, 3 newsletters, 6 blog posts and 11 digests. This is on top of our support to emerging CMOs in Europe and corridor activities and meetings with EU and international institutions’ officials to push our positions forward.

Next month

On 21 March I will be at Series Mania in Lille together with our Chair Barbara Hayes who will be a Lille dialogues’ panelist for a Discussion on remuneration, consent... How shall we embrace the AI revolution? Maybe I see you there?

Best wishes, 


My 3 reading tips: