THE RIGHT FINANCIAL REMUNERATION TO THE AUTHORS FAVORS THE QUALITY OF THE CINEMA AND THE AUDIOVISUAL WORKS
In most of the countries, the screenwriters and the directors of the audiovisual sector do not have the right to receive a payment for the reuse or broadcast of their works.
While the different operators, investors and distributors obtain constant earnings, the creators of the work, which is the essence of the project, are rarely treated in the same way if we consider they do not receive a correct financial remuneration for the constant use of their work.
It is necessary to correct this inequality.
Most of the movie screenwriters and directors are independent workers, which means, in most of the countries, they cannot receive either compensation if they are ill, or a pension, or a permanent income.
However, the process of taking a work to the scene is long and uncertain. Without the possibility of having a reasonable income for their works, many of them feel obliged to abandon that field.
This is very important since, every year, the screenwriters and directors create works which create jobs and value for their national economies and, at the same time, they improve the vitality of the world culture.
Imagine how significant could this contribution be if the law established that the audiovisual creators had to be treated equally.
EVEN BEFORE THE WORK EXISTS - IN MANY COUNTRIES- THE AUTHOR HAS ALREADY GIVEN EVERYTHING
When the legislators established a specific right for the authors two hundred years ago, their objective was to create a legal framework which fostered the development and the diversity of creation. This allowed the authors to have an income with their creations and to be part of their work’s success.
However, throughout the years, the screenwriters and directors have seen how that essential link between the use (or exploitation), the work and the author’s remuneration, was getting worse.
Nowadays, in many countries, only a payment of a fixed sum of many has replaced the legitimate right to receive a proportional payment for each use. Authors from many regions have been affected by the world market. And this is not the only problem.
The negotiation of this sum of money is made before the production starts and, thus, before the value of any future success can be precisely estimated.
That is why, it is not possible that the payment can be considered equitable for all the parties.
What’s more, as most of the authors are independent workers, they end up negotiating their agreements with huge organizations in a disadvantageous position, in which, even if they ask for a more equitable agreement, it is not a profitable option for them.
Only if we get to make this vital right of remuneration be contemplated in the law, we will make sure that it will not be ignored or violated.
THE PROBLEM SCALE
This is the fall in the percentage, between 2004 and 2014, of Spanish screenwriters who are capable of making a living with their work.
AVERAGE SALARY IN AUSTRALIA
AVERAGE SALARY OF THE MEMBERS OF THE ADG
50% of the members of the Australian Directors Guild (ADG) earn less than half of the national average salary, although most of them have more than 10 years experience in the field.
Less than a fifth part of the british screenwriters can make a living only writing scripts.
THE CHALLENGE MOST OF THE SCREENWRITERS AND DIRECTORS HAVE TO FACE
The scale of the issue facing screenwriters and directors can be difficult to appreciate unless we understand how the cycle of work and payment functions in their world works.
The co-authors of an audiovisual work assign their rights to a producer, which is necessary to market and distribute the work. But with a lack of fair payment for the reuse of previous works, making a living turns out to be difficult and negotiating for their best long-term interests is often impossible.
Are you motivated enough to be an author?
Creative phase (several years)
Do you have a script? Yes / No
Was the script chosen by a producer? Yes / No
- Get financing
- Acquired rights by the producer + Fixed fees for the author
Pre-production (1 to 6 months)
- Organize the work with the Director (casting, film crew)
Production (1 to 6 months)
Postproduction (1 to 6 months)
- Edition, music selection, subtitles, special effects...
Marketing and distribution (commercial cycle of the film)
- National theaters
- DVD / BLU-RAY
- VOD (video on demand)
- Television transmission
- International distribution
Any proportional author’s remuneration?
Without any legal payment obligation, most authors are not entitled to receive any part of the success.
A GLOBAL RIGHT FOR THE WORLWIDE MARKET
A simple amendment of the law may solve these problems and restore equality for screenwriters and directors. When imposing a non-transferable, inalienable right to remuneration, their rights may be placed at a comparable level with the other interested parties and guarantee an equal participation for them in the future success of their works.
This right to remuneration has already been introduced into the legislations of Spain, Italy, Estonia, Poland and the Netherlands (for specific exploitations) and is in the process of being adopted by Chile.
Likewise, in France, Belgium and Argentina there are already laws and practices comparable to this right.
This inequality constitutes a serious problem since it supports some authors and punishes others according to their location. The digital sphere does not know national boundaries and, for such reason, this law does not actually benefit the author unless it is applied internationally.
THIS LAW SHOULD INCLUDE FOUR REGULATIONS
1. Creators must be listed as authors. The co-authors of an audiovisual work are the people who created it and must include the director and the authors of the screenplay, and adaptation.
2. They must receive a remuneration. These co-authors should receive separate remunerations, proportional to the amount of earnings generated for each use of their work. This remuneration should be the result of an equitable negotiation.
3. That is unwaivable and intransferible. This right to remuneration may not be waived or transferred to a third party.
4. Paid by the last users of the works. The legal obligation for this remuneration should fall on the last users (television channels, digital platforms, etc.) and be paid via organisations duly organized by authors to collect and distribute such remunerations.
WHY SHOULD THE INDUSTRY PAY EQUALLY?
The payment of a fair remuneration right to screenwriters and directors for the exploitation of their work represents a very little percentage of their income for the major media groups and online platforms. But it changes everything for creators.
The growth in digital consumption for audiovisual works makes this even more affordable every day.
In Europe, the number of Video on Demand services grew more than 3,000 platforms between 2007 and 2015, while the income generated increased 1,000%. Globally, the advertising income from online video doubled from 2011 to 2016 to reach €11.2 billion and in 2014, Netflix received 13 million new users and a 26% growth in income.
Unfortunately however, the creators whose hard work and talent is at the very heart of any film’s success are often forgotten. In most cases, they are not even informed about the markets in which their movies are distributed and certainly not always remunerated for the following uses of their works.
An unassignable and unwaivable right of remuneration would help to reduce the huge differences in how the authors and operators in this sector are treated and to stimulate the creation of great new work from which both parties could benefit.
AN EXAMPLE OF HOW AN ACCURATE REMUNERATION MOTIVATES THE SECTOR
In 1997, the Italian government introduced a mandatory remuneration, payable by users to directors and screenwriters for every use of their work. In the following years, SIAE– the society authorised to collect and distribute these royalties – received new revenues for screenwriters and directors averaging €23 million per year that served as a catalyst for success.
The industry experienced a huge uplift with the number of Italian films produced rising by more than 70%8 between 1996 and 2014 to rank fifth in Europe. Cinema attendance reached 100 million admissions and the market share for nationally produced films rose to 27%; second only behind the USA. This positive trend affected television too with Italy’s two leading media groups broadcasting 562 hours of fiction in 2011-2012 compared to just 283 hours in 1996-979.
A CATALYST FOR SUCCESS
These increase did not reduce the quality and Italian movies enjoyed a kind of recovery:
An Oscar for Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza
A Golden Lion awarded to Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary, Sacro GRA
Domestic movies claimed 1st and 3rd places in the 2013 Italian box office charts
International awards for Italian movie Gomorrah and its spin-off TV series
A FAIR REMUNERATION FOR SCREENWRITERS AND DIRECTORS
It is the duty of every state to preserve creative freedom and to foster the existence of a wide variety of independent authors to guarantee cultural diversity and the renewal of creation.
In addition, these authors are job creators with their works kicking off a chain reaction of production and audience participation that makes a huge contribution to the world’s economies.
The absence of an unassignable, unwaivable remuneration right for screenwriters and directors is a glaring omission in many legal frameworks. It is present in a few countries but with the absence of borders in the digital age, it needs to exist universally to be effective.
A fair remuneration will restore the rights of screenwriters and directors and will enable them to make an even greater financial and cultural contribution. Your support is critical to this campaign.