With start of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union this month, and committing to ‘bring culture to the fore’, AEPO-ARTIS wrote an open letter to the Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson with the goal to draw attention to the importance of culture and need to improve performer’s rights.
Dear Prime Minister of Sweden,
Dear Mr. Kristersson,
This month Sweden officially took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. And so, for the next six months Sweden will be leading the rest of the European Union in taking the most important decisions that need to be taken. We are grateful for the ambitious program that you have presented to the Parliament in Strasbourg. We are confident that Sweden will achieve its goals.
With Sweden comes an end to an ambitious Trio Programme set up with France and the Czech Republic. We understand that under the current circumstances it is not possible to achieve all the objectives of the original programme. Our Union is confronted with unforeseen challenges in the field of peace and energy that deserve to be prioritised.
Nevertheless, we hope that culture will be kept at the core of Presidency’s activities. Together with France and the Czech Republic, Sweden committed to bring culture to the fore. This by “implementing the new work plan for culture, focussing in particular on the importance of culture for the economy, artistic freedom and the effects of digitalisation on culture.” Hereby underlining “the importance of securing a fair remuneration for creators and a sustainable environment for independent media.”
AEPO-ARTIS is a non-profit making organisation that represents 37 European performers’ collective management organisations from 27 different countries, including the Swedish organisations SAMI and Fackförbundet för Scen &Film. The number of performers, from the audio and audiovisual sector, represented by our 37 member organisations can be estimated at 650.000.
From the start of the trio programme, AEPO-ARTIS has welcomed its pursuit of such fair remuneration within an increasingly digitising society. And we are very pleased that Sweden has the task to carry the relay baton over the finish line.
We have confidence in Sweden because it is the biggest, if not only, net-exporter of music in the EU. And that is not only due to strong pop-acts such as ABBA, Roxette, Robyn and the Army of Lovers. With bands like Refused, Millencolin, The Hives and Abhinanda, Sweden put Europe on the worldwide map of punk-rock and hardcore. With acts like Greekazo and 1.Cuz it’s doing the same for the rap-community. Sweden has history of supporting its musicians to cross borders, territorially and artistically.
And it has done the same for actors. From Ingrid Bergman, Inger Nilsson and Max von Sydow to Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Nyqvist and Rebecca Ferguson. Every generation has its actors who found their way onto the world stage. But those who stay in Sweden also find their way into living rooms throughout Europe. Nordic noir and Swedish Gloom have become part of a common European cultural heritage.
New digital tools have exponentially increased the cross-border possibilities, so that we now also have direct digital access to Clark and Snabba Cash, to Hannes and Seinabo Sey. However, for performers the digital road that they are taken on to is often a one-way street that allows little traffic going back to the artists themselves.
Many studies and market researches have shown that the criticism raised by performers of all genres on the proper functioning of the online digital market on which they increasingly depend, is justified. For musicians, actors and other performers, the digital environment of on-demand and streaming is still the place where they are least protected.
The Copyright directive acknowledged the precarious situation of performers and authors and required Member States to adapt and supplement their national copyright legislation to make it future proof and guarantee that right holders count on a high level of protection when facing the new actors and new business models that resulted from recent technological developments.
It was also acknowledged by the European Parliament. In its October 2021 resolution on the situation of artists, it pleaded for its immediate implementation of this directive by all Member States, in particular to ‘guarantee fair, appropriate and proportionate remuneration for authors and performers.’ A call they very recently repeated in the December 2022 resolution on the Implementation of the New European Agenda for Culture and the EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations.
The directive has been implemented in very different ways, with certain Member States making explicit choices in favour of performers and authors and others limiting themselves to a minimal implementation.
Sweden implemented the directive without providing performers and authors with any supplementary mechanism enabling them to make that fair remuneration for online exploitations effective. We know that this was not a choice against performers. It was not a choice to conclude the debate on fair remuneration. On the contrary, we notice that the debate is continuing in Sweden.
We would therefore like to encourage you to take this debate to Brussels and keep it on the agenda for all Member States.
Finally, we hope that during your presidency the EU can work on eliminating the last existing discriminations between actors and musicians. Firstly, by extending the term of protection for audiovisual performances to 70 years in the context of the revision of Directive 2011/77. There is no explanation whatsoever why audiovisual performances are still protected for only 50 years, while musical performances can count on 70 years. Secondly, we hope that Sweden can achieve a breakthrough in the ratification of the Beijing treaty by the European Union.
Performers are the face of European culture. Help them to a digital future with the same dedication and passion they make to our culture!
On behalf of every performer whose work you have ever appreciated.