Letter to EU Ministers: Implement the Copyright Directive to fit modern day consumption of audiovisual works

The SAA sent a message to the Ministers responsible for Copyright, asking them to ensure that the implementation of the EU Directive provides for remuneration to audiovisual authors for the on-demand exploitation of their works.

The letter reminds Ministers that the cultural and creative sectors have been suffering significantly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restart of these sectors will be long and complex.

While cinemas were closed, the subscriptions to video-on-demand services sky-rocketed, accelerating the revenues’ growth of these platforms. However, this did not result in revenues for most audiovisual authors, an essential income that could have partially compensated for their loss of activities. Indeed, audiovisual authors do not receive royalties for the exploitation of their works by on-demand services in all countries. Such payments are only organised whether by law or voluntary agreements in six EU countries (Belgium, France, Estonia, Italy, Spain, Sweden) and Switzerland.

The importance of on-demand consumption of audiovisual works in our modern lives demonstrates that the remuneration structure of audiovisual authors is long outdated and must urgently be adapted.

As the Member States are in the process of implementing the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, the SAA urges the Ministers to redress this situation and introduce an unwaivable right to remuneration for audiovisual authors for the on-demand exploitation of their works.

An unwaivable right to remuneration collected from VOD platforms and distributed to authors by their CMOs is the appropriate solution to ensuring that audiovisual authors receive royalties for the on-demand exploitation of their works. This is in line with the spirit of Article 18 of the Directive that states that “Member States shall ensure that where authors and performers licence or transfer their exclusive rights for the exploitation of their works or other subject matter, they are entitled to receive appropriate and proportionate remuneration”.

In an international and competitive market dominated by global players, CMOs are the only ones in the position to negotiate appropriate and proportionate royalties for audiovisual authors. To avoid such a remuneration to be considered included in the fee paid by the producer for making the film (buy-out contracts), audiovisual authors need the law to provide them with an unwaivable right to remuneration to be negotiated by their CMOs with the video-on-demand platforms.

It is important to note that such a solution would adapt the remuneration structure of audiovisual authors to the market and actual uses of their works, without adding any cost on the financing and production of works nor to the state or public institutions’ budgets supporting the production and distribution of European works. The cost of the remuneration of the audiovisual authors for the exploitation of their works on-demand would be borne by on-demand services and based on the revenues generated by their business.

The SAA hopes that in this moment of learning the lessons of the impact of such a devastating pandemic on the cultural and creative sectors, the Member States will pay special attention to the authors and try to make them stronger out of the crisis. For audiovisual authors, such an unwaivable remuneration for on-demand exploitation collectively managed is essential as demonstrated in countries where it exists.