As part of the official programme of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, representatives from a wide range of artistic disciplines gathered on Friday 4th March at the Théâtre de la Colline in Paris for the “RE-CREATION” conference, a full day of discussions on the importance of culture and creation for Europe with AEPO-ARTIS’ General Secretary Ioan Kaes participating in a panel on ‘Better protecting the rights of European authors and creators’.
The participants were welcomed by French Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin. She reminded everyone that Europe has always been a centre of culture and that our artists deserve the best protection possible making the reference to the Copyright Directive and the principle of fair remuneration for performers.
She was joined by Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Culture, Education and Youth who focused on the impact of the COVID crisis for our sector and the loss of mobility and the possibility to meet our audience in person, pushing us to online environments.
AEPO-ARTIS participated to the morning session which focused completely on how to relaunch the sector and in the meantime find the right balance between the opportunities given by the digital environment and the goal of ensuring a fair remuneration for the work of our artist and the respect for their intellectual property rights.
Malfada Damaso of the Rotterdam Erasmus University and co-author of the CULT-report on the situation of artists and cultural workers and the relaunch of the cultural sector, was the first to address the Copyright directive and criticise the lack of implementation. “We cannot take it for granted that when culture creates revenue, this revenue ends up with the creators of that culture” she stated.
AEPO-ARTIS’ General Secretary Ioan Kaes expressed his concerns on the current status of the implementation of the Copyright Directive. “It is worrisome that almost three years after its adoption, less than 50% of our Member States have transposed this directive. And most of those have transposed it by merely copy-pasting the principle into their national legislation, instead of doing what the directive asks them to do, which is to ensure that the transfer of exclusive rights always results in a fair remuneration. If the Member states fail to implement this principle by means of effective mechanisms that make it work, then Europe needs to legislate further.”
He called for rethinking the way we look at intellectual property rights for performers. In the online environment the role of neighbouring rights in allowing performers to be remunerated has become more important that their role of offering performers the possibility to control the use. “These last years we have been buried with news on deals between big tech and big media. We’ve seen how intellectual property rights have been used to reshape the online market for the rightholders. Our authors and our performers are no longer the ones ‘holding’ their rights. These rights are more and more treated like exchangeable assets. The link between the creator and the value is less clear. And so we’ve also read even more studies, articles and testimonies that confronted us with the reality that the current online market is not working for our artists. Intellectual property rights are losing their role of remunerating the human beings that at the core of the intellectual activity that is protected.”
Burak Özgen from GESAC highlighted the unfair practices of buy-out & work-for-hire contracts by platforms which cut the link between authors and their works and also spoke out against new practices that aim at circumventing the mandates of collective management societies. He was joined by Marek Hojda from Music Export Poland who testified from his personal experience as a musician and agreed that artists are not always in a position to negotiate a good contract. “Artists in general should be better protected by means of unwaivable rights so that no matter how bad the contract is, they still receive the protection they need.”
All speakers of the morning session agreed that COVID has shown that Europe still does not sufficiently protect its creators to participate in the digital single market. This was already the case before the crisis, but it played an important role in revealing and magnifying the weaknesses of the current legal framework surrounding artistic activities and in accelerating the need for change.