European screenwriters and directors call for a digital fair deal

The Society of Audiovisual Authors, publishes the 2nd edition of its White Paper on Audiovisual Authors Rights and Remuneration in Europe. The paper underlines the explosion of different forms of exploitation of audiovisual works, demonstrates the opportunities of the digital economy and how SAA’s members can help ensure Europe’s screenwriters and directors get a fair share.

Download: the white paper, its executive summary (in English and French) and the authors statement (in English and French)

23rd March 2015:

At a time when copyright is under scrutiny from both the European Commission and Parliament, the audiovisual authors’ community is keen to draw the attention of policy makers to the needs and expectations of authors in a changing audiovisual landscape:

  • Copyright is the basis of authors’ remuneration and the sustainable financing of works. Any discussion on copyright should respect and promote this.
  • Today, collections of SAA members, who manage rights for over 120,000 authors, represent only 0.37% of audiovisual sector revenues.
  • Collectively enforced unwaivable right to remuneration for the exploitation of works is needed to ensure audiovisual authors get a fair share.
  • All platforms who distribute works should contribute to this remuneration.
  • Territoriality is not an impediment to the circulation of works; to the contrary, it ensures their active circulation and the sustainable financing of diverse European production.

Janine Lorente, chair of the SAA board of directors: “Authors love Europe. They love the idea of these different cultures mixing. They are inspired by these different cultures as they try to tell their stories of the world around us.  We need to build a regulatory framework that lets them create and live from their creation.”

Roger Michell, British screenwriter and director (Notting Hill, Le Week-end, Hyde Park on Hudson): “I have unfortunately had to learn the hard way how poor contractual practices deprive authors from being linked to the success of their works. Professional organisations and CMOs like the members of SAA are essential to authors like me being able to be paid fairly for my work and to enforce my rights.”

Robert Alberdingk Thijm, Dutch screenwriter (A’dam e.v.a): “Our authors’ rights are what enable us to make a living and retain creative control over our work.  In too many countries in Europe we are deprived effective enforcement of our rights. An unwaivable remuneration right would help remedy that.”

Virginie Rozière, MEP: "The economic value chains of the digital cultural industry as deeply changed: we have moved to a four-party relationshup between the artist, the producer, the intermediary and the consumer.  In this context, intermediaries, and especially Internet's giants, capture most of the generated value.  We must refuse this utilitarian vision of culture and fight for the diversity and sustainability of the works.  Fair remuneration of authors and artists is key to support cultural diversity and to grant consumers access to a wide range of cultural content."

Authors’ statement: “We are Europeans who reject this divisive discourse opposing the public, our audience, to creators. Our greatest desire is that our works are watched by as many people as possible, find their audience and flow across borders, including online.  Often, the supposed barriers have nothing to do with authors’ rights, but everything to do with business practices.”

The white paper, its executive summary (in English and French) and the authors statement (in English and French) will be available at the launch and on SAA’s website from 3pm, Monday 23rd March.

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

Photos and videos below


At the launch event on 23 March in Brussels (programme) British director, Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Le Week-end, Hyde Park on Hudson) accompanied by French director, Bertrand Tavernier (Un dimanche à la Campagne, La Princesse de Montpensier, Quai d’Orsay) will open proceedings. They will be joined by Dutch screenwriter Robert Alberdingk Thijm (A’dam E.V.A.) and German screenwriter Jochen Greve (Tatort) as well as a Commission official and Member of the European Parliament in a panel discussion on the subject.

Prefaced by the Belgian directors, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne and British director Susanna White, and endorsed by FERA (Federation of European Film Directors) and FSE (Federation of Screenwriters in Europe), the SAA White Paper gathers information and statistics on the performance and challenges of the European film and television sectors as well as on the position of the authors in the industry, in terms of their rights and remuneration, including exclusive figures on the performance of their collective management organisations.  It addresses the impact of the digital revolution on the exploitation and value of audiovisual works and formulates proposals to put authors at the heart of the creative economy.

The 2nd edition of the White Paper comes at a key time in the European policy calendar with both the European Commission and European Parliament currently looking at the future of authors’ rights and copyright.  The European Parliament is discussing a draft report on the implementation of the 2001 Copyright Directive which has been criticised for not taking authors sufficiently into account and for weakening their rights.  The European Commission is expected to publish a Digital Single Market strategy in May and a legislative reform of copyright focused on cross border access to works in the Autumn. The publication of this 2nd edition of the SAA White Paper aims at drawing the attention of the European institutions to the real problems European authors suffer from. It will be the starting point of a campaign to strengthen authors’ rights in the online environment with an unwaivable right to remuneration to ensure that authors get a fair deal.

In a statement published alongside the White Paper launch, renowned authors including Michel Hazanavicius and Volker Schlöndorff express their concern that the current Commission approach tackling territoriality of rights would undermine the sustainable financing of the diversity of European film production. They call for a Europe that promotes the rights, freedom and independence of its authors to nurture its cultural power thanks to its cultural diversity.

About SAA

Founded in 2010, the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA) is the association of European collective management organisations representing audiovisual authors.  Its 25 members in 18 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;

In addition to the 1st edition of this White Paper, SAA has also produced detailed documents on private copying compensation, royalty distribution rules and practices as well as a joint wish list with FERA and FSE for how Europe can help its screenwriters and directors help the European audiovisual sector thrive.