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Industry / Market - Europe/Latin America

Industry Report: Europe and the Rest of the World

At the latest SAA conference, European and Latin American creators call for fairer payments for screenwriters and directors


“Fair remuneration is more urgent than ever, but is also economically beneficial,” the speakers pointed out

At the latest SAA conference, European and Latin American creators call for fairer payments for screenwriters and directors
Slovenian writer-director Urša Menart during the conference

On 1 March, the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA) organised an online conference titled “Audiovisual Authors' Rights in Europe and Latin America,” and moderated by Janine Lorente. To date, Europe and Latin America have the most developed legal environment and collective management practices for audiovisual creators. The event brought together four creators from the two continents to share their experiences and highlight how the law can best protect their rights. Their contributions were enriched by the presence of three experts, representing SAA as well as the Latin American Audiovisual Authors Societies Federation (FESAAL) and the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC).

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First, Chilean screenwriter Daniella Castagno talked through the 15-year fight for an unwaivable remuneration right in Chile, both in securing the Ricardo Larrain law and then having it implemented through several legal actions against TV broadcasters, culminating in a Supreme Court ruling upholding the right in 2022.

“The positive change brought by the law was that, after all the negotiations with TV broadcasters, authors of audiovisual works have now started to receive payment, for the first time in our history. It’s a turning point in the work we have done for authors’ rights,” Castagno pointed out.

Next, Slovenia’s Urša Menart argued that Slovenia is “probably the only country in the world for now where the audiovisual authors have more collectively managed rights than music authors.” She explained, however, that producers were not very keen on giving this presumption of transfer of remuneration rights away: “We negotiated that authors have our own right to remuneration, just as producers and actors have their own. You cannot sell nor transfer those. That is a big and a good thing for the future.”

Poland’s Aleksander Pietrzak sees the unwaivable remuneration right as a vital way of creating a fair balance in negotiation with users. “We have to act now before these huge companies grow bigger, before they absorb all the other companies and all the art and films. An artist’s life is not an easy journey, and the law should always be in favour of weaker individuals. Of course, many artists are afraid of speaking out because those big companies are often their employers, producers, and distributors." 

"That’s why we need collective management organisations like SAA and Poland’s ZAPA, because this way we artists are stronger together to fight for our safety and our laws.”

Later on, Brazil’s Henrique De Freitas Lima touched upon the creation of the Union of Brazilian directors and its campaign for audiovisual creators to be remunerated in the same way as music creators. "The problem is that the users say the current law is not clear enough for them to have to pay. We are doing everything we can to get an adjustment in the law, to make it clear that audiovisual creators are protected by a mandatory and unwaivable remuneration right,” he underscored.

Among the involved experts, Cristina Perpiñá-Robert Navarro, of CISAC, cited the body’s Global Collections Report (accessible here). The document shows that audiovisual collections are under-performing compared to other repertoires, accounting for only 6% of total collections. She called for the presence of “fair conditions in every country” as well as “some degree of harmonisation internationally.”

“The remuneration right is an efficient and fair system that doesn’t have an adverse impact on the commercialisation of the programme or film. If the model is viable in one country, then it has to be viable in other countries as well,” she added.

FESAAL representative German Gutierrez explained how the remuneration right has succeeded in helping authors in Argentina and how this model could be extended internationally: “The system is valid because it is an exclusive representation, with a monopoly for all authors and if it were not that, it would not be as strong as it is. [...] There should be a recommendation made through WIPO [the World Intellectual Property Organisation] so that, for countries that don’t have a right of remuneration, it should be introduced and make this right a reality everywhere.”

Finally, in his contribution, SAA’s Frédéric Young stressed on how fair remuneration is “a universal principle to be defended and put into effect.” “I believe politicians should observe the situation and create a good policy which recognises that fair remuneration of authors is an investment not only in culture, but also in the daily economy,” he concluded.

The full recording of the event is available below:

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