SoA welcomes international legal study on fair remuneration for audiovisual authors

A new international legal study has been published calling for legal reforms to help screenwriters and directors earn royalties for the use of their works.

Commissioned by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) and Writers & Directors Worldwide (W&DW), and written by copyright law specialist and the Open University of Catalonia Intellectual Property Chair, Professor Raquel Xalabarder, it is the first ever study to research the global situation and recommend reforms to introduce fair payments for audiovisual authors across the world.

What is the current situation?

The findings are stark and illustrate the challenging situation faced by screenwriters and directors. Despite having exclusive rights to exploit their work, audiovisual authors rarely obtain equitable remuneration, especially for online exploitations.

  • A weak bargaining position in the negotiation process with producers.
  • A legal presumption of transfer of rights to the producer.
  • The unpredictability of the success of the work when the production contract is signed.
  • The practice of “buy-out contracts” which involve a lump-sum payment.
  • The long contractual chain, with several intermediaries between the author and the final users of the work.
  • The lack of harmonisation of international and European legislation

What are the recommendations?

The study recommends introducing an international legal framework to enable all audiovisual authors to obtain equitable remuneration for their work.

This right should include compensation for all uses of the work, whether offline or online, and should be paid by the licensee/final distributor. The right should not be capable of being waived or transferred. The study also recommends that payments are administered by Collective Management Organisations (CMOs).

Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, said:

“This report is welcome and timely. Advances in technology have opened up new opportunities for audiovisual authors to reach wider audiences for their work, and yet it is clear that they are not being adequately remunerated when their work is exploited.

“We fully support the legal reforms recommended in Professor’s Xalabarder’s study, which ties in with our own CREATOR campaign for fair contracts. Authors must be compensated for all uses of their work, to ensure they continue creating work for everyone to enjoy.”