Secretary General's March Digest, 2024

Before my (and yours I hope) long Easter weekend, I want to give you an update on the SAA’s activities in March, which were mainly about our annual meeting and the European elections.

Highlights from SAA's annual meeting

The SAA General Assembly on 20 March, accepted UFUS AFA PROTECTION, the collective management organisation (CMO) for audiovisual authors in Serbia as its newest member. Representing directors, screenwriters and directors of photography, UFUS-AFA PROTECTION has been active since 2018, mainly in the field of retransmission. Its collections and reciprocal agreements are limited for now, but their entry in the SAA community will certainly make a change. I am pleased that SAA’s membership is growing in the Balkan region where audiovisual authors’ CMOs are struggling to exist and enforce the authors’ rights. See our interactive map and the SAA’s now 34 members in 26 countries across Europe!

A lot of work usually goes into the preparation of annual meetings with members. However, it is instantaneously rewarding when meeting in person. I truly enjoy the opportunity to catch up and it is also heartwarmingly reassuring to learn that our services matter and make a difference for their work for authors’ remuneration in their respective countries. Much of the SAA’s work is not visible externally. Some of the services members benefit from are curated EU institutions and industry news, working groups to exchange experience and good practices, legislation databases, surveys and comparative analysis of various data. For example, information about what rights are managed in different countries help less developed members to argue their case and expand their activities in their country. Such information can also be used as a tool for bilateral agreements between CMOs. The SAA also provides its members with letters of support when needed. In March we published an open letter concerning proceedings initiated by the Slovakian Antimonopoly Office against our member LITA.

At the Council of General Policy meeting that followed the General Assembly we exchanged in length about the situation in the different countries. Many CMOs are concerned about the increasing pressure from US streaming platforms to evade any responsibility to pay the authors whose works they exploit. The EU AI Act was also on the agenda. Mid-March we welcomed jointly with other organisations the approval of the EU AI Act by the Parliament, and we are following closely the EU AI Office as it is setting up its operations. An important task of the Office will be to draft the template that providers of AI models must use to fulfil the transparency obligation. In parallel, together with legal experts within the SAA’s membership, we are exploring the best legal solutions that would ensure audiovisual authors’ remuneration in this new reality where their works are being ingested by foundations models. SAA’s Chair Barbara Hayes explained all that in a panel on “Remuneration, consent… How shall we embrace the AI revolution?” at Series Mania in Lille, where AI was the most discussed topic.

On the evening before our annual meeting, we organised and enjoyed a cocktail reception with the SAA members and external guests. You can see some cheerful photos on our Facebook page.

Lastly, if you know someone passionate about European law and policy who would like to make a meaningful contribution to audiovisual authors’ rights, please share the SAA team's vacancy for a Legal and Policy Officer. I thank our departing colleague Evangelos for his excellent work at the SAA and wish him the best of luck on his professional journey!

#UseYourVote #EUelections2024 #EU2024

2024 is a special year because of the European elections on 6-9 June. On 19 March, we organised a workshop to prepare the elections with our members and extended the invitation to some of our colleagues working for other European associations in the cultural and creative sectors. We invited a representative of the European Parliament to present their election campaign. I was surprised to learn that in 2022, there were more autocracies than democracies in the world. Engaging citizens in the democratic process and encouraging them to vote are the main objectives of the Parliament. The big challenge is the turnout: 50,6% in 2019, an increase compared to the worst turnout in the history of the EU elections in 2014 (42,6%), but still lower than for the first elections in 1979 (62%). We discussed what our organisations could do and possible messages and recommendations. We all agreed that culture is not just a means to an end, it is also a prominent economic sector that society relies on, as well as an essential European value that we must foster. It will then be our job to make the case to the new Members of the European Parliament (usually 50% of them) that culture and authors’ rights should be a priority of the new legislative period.

On a similar topic, on 8 March (International Women’s Day) we shared a short video message by László Bernát, our new Patron from Hungary, about why it is important to vote for more women. View his message here on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and X.


In April there will be 3 main activities that will occupy my attention. Firstly, I will be speaking at the Copyright Conference organised by the Belgian Presidency on creator’s remuneration in the context of musical and audiovisual streaming on 8 April. Secondly, my team and I will be attending the LUX Audience Award Ceremony on 16 April in the European Parliament in Brussels. Previous years, we organized a dinner/lunch at the occasion of the award ceremony for MEPs, the film teams, our members and other guests to meet each other. This year we decided to postpone such an event to the announcement of the finalists for the next season in September in Strasbourg. This will be a better timing and occasion to establish relations with the new MEPs. Thirdly, I will be going to Geneva for the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights to support the proposal for an international study on audiovisual authors’ rights and remuneration tabled by Cote d’Ivoire at the last meeting in November 2023. I hope I will have good news to report next time and that the study will soon be launched by the WIPO secretariat!

I wish you a refreshing April with buds and blooms promising new beginnings and growth.🌱


My 3 reading tips: