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EU copyright reform vote: Industry reaction

June 21, 2018

By Colin Mann

A number of representative bodies have commented on votes taken by the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs which could lead to major changes to European copyright law

The Federation of European Film Directors (FERA), the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE) and the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA) welcome the vote in favour of a new Article -14a establishing a principle of fair and proportionate remuneration for authors and performers.

They thank MEPs who initiated and supported this European Parliament amendment, which follows positive opinions by the Culture Committee (CULT) and the Industry Committee (ITRE), and suggest the vote is a first step in the right direction towards better remuneration for authors when their works are exploited online.

“Indeed, the amendment obliges Member States to ensure that authors and performers receive fair and proportionate remuneration from the exploitation of their works, including from their online exploitation,” they say. “It also recognises that fair and proportionate remuneration of authors and performers cannot be dealt with only in their contracts with producers but may be achieved in each sector through a combination of agreements, including collective bargaining agreements, statutory remuneration mechanisms and collective management agreements.

FERA, FSE and SAA hope that the upcoming trilogue process will confirm this basic provision in favour of audiovisual authors and even go further. They urge the Council, Commission and Parliament to strengthen the audiovisual authors’ right to remuneration in the digital era, as claimed by more than 17,000 signatories of the petition in support of Europe’s screenwriters and directors. This would allow these authors to benefit from the constantly growing on-demand exploitation of their works.

Setting the scene for tomorrow’s European creation also requires stronger protection of European creators’ rights and remuneration, they suggest.

“We thank the European Parliament for hearing the call of audiovisual authors to protect and promote their right to fair and proportionate remuneration,” commented Cécile Despringre, SAA Executive Director. “We now expect the Council, the Commission and the Parliament to take on board this essential principle and further implement it for on-demand exploitation. It is still possible at trilogue stage!”

“It is 2018 and past time to adapt audiovisual authors’ rights in the digital era,” declared Pauline Durand-Vialle, FERA Chief Executive. “Without fair and proportionate remuneration for the exploitation of their works online, directors will have no means to sustain professional careers and contribute to Europe’s diverse culture,” she warned.

“Today’s vote of the European Parliament shows the way to tackle authors’ remuneration in the digital environment,” asserted David Kavanagh, FSE Executive Officer. “We see it as a positive general provision but hope that the three European institutions will further improve the situation of audiovisual authors during the trilogues.”

According to La Scam, a pan-European society of directors, authors of interviews and commentaries, writers, translators, journalists, video makers, photographers and illustrators, the text proposed paves the way for a possible better value sharing on the Internet.

“The value of a creation is the work of its creator,” says SCAM. “The meaning of author’s right (Copyright) fully lies in the combination of articles 13 and 14a of the draft copyright directive that will soon be put to the vote at a plenary session in the European Parliament.”

Article 13 eventually requires platforms to solicit an author’s authorisation or their representatives to exploit their work and remunerate them. According to La Scam, this provision brings some equity in platforms’ (video sharing platforms, social networks…) and broadcasters’ competition.

Article 14a enshrines the principle of a fair and proportionate remuneration of their works, and the possibility of a collective management ensured by author’s rights societies. “If such a principle has, in France, been acknowledged for a long time for all authors, this is not a reality in other territories for audiovisual authors, like for instance Germany and other Nordic countries. Europe can feel honoured to provide for a level playing field to audiovisual authors within Member States,” says La Scam.

Moreover, La Scam takes note of the adoption of a neighbouring right for press publishers, which can be fully successful only if journalists themselves benefit from a fair remuneration. “La Scam will pay close attention to that,” it states.

“Europe relies on its founding principles: harmonisation from the top rather than from the bottom. Authors deeply thank MEPs Pervenche Bérès, Jean-Marie Cavada, Marc Joulaud and Virginie Rozière who fought for defending their rights, and French authorities, in particular their Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen,” says La Scam.

“La Scam fosters all MEPs to vote during the plenary session for a text which, on the basis of the draft text adopted by the Legal Affairs Committee, will be able to safeguard the future of European creation,” concludes the body.

“Article 13 must go,” declared Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group. “The EU Parliament will have another chance to remove this dreadful law. The EU Parliament’s duty is to defend citizens from unfair and unjust laws. MEPs must reject this law, which would create a Robo-copyright regime intended to zap any image, text, meme or video that appears to include copyright material, even when it is entirely legal material,” he warned.

Prior to the Committee’s vote, more than 70 Internet and computing luminaries spoke out against Article 13. The group, which includes Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, the inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, co-founder of the Mozilla Project Mitchell Baker, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, cryptography expert Bruce Schneier, and net neutrality expert Tim Wu, suggested in a joint letter that by requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.

“We support the consideration of measures that would improve the ability for creators to receive fair remuneration for the use of their works online,” they wrote. “But we cannot support Article 13, which would mandate Internet platforms to embed an automated infrastructure for monitoring and censorship deep into their networks. For the sake of the Internet’s future, we urge you to vote for the deletion of this proposal.”

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