AEPO-ARTIS writes an open letter to the French President Emmanuel Macron

With France taking over presidency of the European Union and the ambitious programme that President Emmanuel Macron has presented to the Parliament in Strasbourg, AEPO-ARTIS wrote an open letter to the French President with the goal to draw attention to the important issue of improving performer’s rights.

Read the full letter below, for the French version of the letter please see here.

Dear Mr President,

In the next six months, France will hold the presidency of the Council of the European Union. We are grateful for the ambitious programme that you have presented to the Parliament in Strasbourg. We are confident that France will achieve its goals, especially when it comes to culture.

But if a humane Europe that takes pride in its culture is one of the key ambitions of the French programme and if providing economic protection for all digital stakeholders is at the core of your strategy, then the protection of the individual artists is the absolute starting point.

AEPO-ARTIS is a non-profit making organisation that represents 37 European performers collective management organisations from 27 different countries, including the French organisations ADAMI and SPEDIDAM. The number of performers, from the audio and audiovisual sector, represented by our 37 member organisations can be estimated at 650,000.

The next six months are crucial for our performers. The cultural sector has been identified as one of the sectors most affected by the COVID pandemic, and we are therefore grateful for the initiatives that Europe has already taken to accelerate the recovery of this sector. We expect France to lead Europe in continuing this work during the next six months.

We are happy to read that your program harks back to the 2017 sovereignty agenda in which copyright reform formed one of the pillars of a fair digital single market. This copyright reform was already concluded by Europe in 2019 with the adoption of the Copyright Directive and the Directive on online broadcasting.

However, most members states still have to implement these directives.

In its October resolution on the situation of artists, the European Parliament identified these directives as crucial for the recovery of the cultural sector and pleaded for its immediate implementation by all Member States, in particular to ‘guarantee fair, appropriate and proportionate remuneration for authors and performers.’

And this is where we need your help. For musicians and actors, the digital environment of on-demand and streaming is still the place where they are least protected. During your presidency they must not be forgotten as a category of digital stakeholders that need economic protection.

While during the pandemic our actors’ and musicians’ beloved stages were closed, their music and films were consulted online en masse. If we come through this crisis with a sound mind, it will in large part due to their – virtual – support.

We hope that the French Presidency will succeed in guiding all member states towards a correct transposition of the Copyright Directive, in particular its article 18. The mere copy-paste of the wording of this article, which several member states have done so far, does not provide any tangible added value for our many musicians and actors. As the Parliament has stated in its resolution, implementation must be accompanied by the introduction of effective mechanisms that guarantee appropriate and proportionate remuneration.

This is all the more true with regard to article 17 on the use of musical and audiovisual works by online platforms. Platform accountability is currently the subject of debates about the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, but for our performers article 17 of the Copyright Directive is an equally important provision, if not more important. It aims to end the so-called value gap that existed between these platforms and the cultural industries that provide content. However, for performers the value gap still exists. With the exception of Germany and Spain, no country has yet succeeded in ensuring that the transposition of this provision is accompanied by an effective mechanism that guarantees that the new flows of money resulting from platform accountability bring about effective appropriate and proportionate remuneration for performers.

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 France can achieve a breakthrough in the ratification of the Beijing treaty by the European Union. France has almost taken all the necessary steps to ratify this paramount treaty. We hope that you will complete this procedure as a country and also succeed in convincing Europe to follow suit.

Performers are the face of European culture. Help them to a digital future by implementing the Copyright Directive with the same dedication and passion they make our culture!

On behalf of every performer whose work you have ever appreciated.

Most respectfully,