Copyright package: Progress undermined by failure to strengthen rights of authors

The wide-reaching copyright package presented today by the European Commission is met with a mixed reaction by SAA. Beyond these first steps to support authors, SAA calls for greater ambition at EU level for screenwriters and directors.

SAA welcomes the Commissions ‘transparency triangle’ of 1) exploitation transparency, 2) contract adjustment mechanism, 3) alternative dispute resolution mechanism, but regrets that the Commission shied away from tackling the underlying problem of the uneven negotiating position between audiovisual authors and their producers and stops short of providing the unwaivable right to remuneration advocated by SAA.

As a result, beyond the good intentions of such measures, there is a risk of no real positive impact for authors and no strengthening of their rights.

It is particularly regrettable since urgent action is required, as clearly shown by SAA’s infographic published on Monday 12thSeptember, which demonstrated the continued need to guarantee an unwaivable right to remuneration for European screenwriters and directors. This is why SAA calls upon the European Parliament and Council to seize this opportunity to improve the situation of the creators behind some of Europe’s best known creative works as well as the continent’s cultural and linguistic diversity.

Barbara Hayes, Chair of the SAA board of directors, said: “We welcome this first step to strengthen authors’ rights but are disappointed to see the Commission’s promises to act on remuneration fall short. The European Parliament and Council must now build on this to make the Digital Single Market work for Europe’s screenwriters and directors.”

Cécile Despringre, SAA Executive Director, added: “As our recent infographic on remuneration shows, audiovisual authors across Europe are finding it increasingly difficult to make a living from their work. More needs to be done to make sure that their works circulate better and that they are duly paid when their works are exploited across the EU.”

The copyright package covers other areas of importance to audiovisual authors:

Improved availability of audiovisual works

SAA supports the Commission’s continued efforts to improve the active circulation of Europe’s audiovisual heritage and calls on the Parliament and Council to establish a principle of continuous exploitation of audiovisual and cinematographic works on video-on-demand platforms.

Regulation on retransmissions and certain online transmissions of broadcasters

SAA welcomes the Commission’s proposal to make the rules applicable to retransmission services technology neutral. However, SAA believes that the current drafting is a missed opportunity to resolve the confusion around direct injection and the forced transfer of retransmission rights to broadcasters which has been the source of litigation in a number of countries across the continent. SAA calls upon the European Parliament and Council to follow the lead of recent Dutch legislation and confirm that audiovisual authors collective management organisations (CMOs) manage the retransmission rights of audiovisual authors.

SAA remains concerned about the erosion of the territorial licensing system in Europe through the extension of the satellite country of origin principle to certain online services of broadcasters and will strongly oppose further extension of the country of origin principle to other online services.

Press contact: James Taylor, +32 495 73 42 90

About SAA

Founded in 2010, the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA) is the association of European collective management organisations representing audiovisual authors. Its 29 members in 22 countries manage rights for over 120,000 film, television and multimedia European screenwriters and directors.

The organisation’s objectives are:

  • to defend and strengthen the economic and moral rights of audiovisual authors;
  • to secure fair remuneration for audiovisual authors for every use of their works;
  • to develop, promote and facilitate the management of rights by member societies. @saabrussels