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Brazil: audiovisual authors more united than ever to have their rights recognized

After three months of hard negotiations, workers from the audiovisual and music sectors in Brazil could not reach an agreement concerning the wording of the Amendment to the Draft Bill No. 2370 of 2019, which proposed the payment of authors’ rights to artists, authors, composers, performers, screenwriters, directors and producers of audiovisual and musical works on the Internet.

The different entities representing workers, among which we can find Diretores Brasileiros de Cinema e Audiovisual (DBCA) and Gestão de Direitos de Autores Roteiristas (GEDAR), considered through a joint document that this “outcome delays the correction of a significant and persistent injustice committed by digital platforms, which do not remunerate artists properly for the online exploitation of their works. This occurs in spite of the huge profits generated by the audience, which derive from the availability and views of the works we create and take part in”.

At the same time, they reported they held “good faith negotiations with broadcasting companies, which also operate as Internet platforms, represented by large economic groups of open television in Brazil, and by their representative entities, such as the Asociación Brasileña de Emissoras de Rádio e Televisão (ABERT) and the Asociación Brasileña de Rádio e Televisão (ABRATEL)”.

Workers have expressed a “deep discomfort by the intransigence shown by broadcasting companies in such negotiations” and asserted that “it is so sad that such business sectors are also reluctant to recognize a right constitutionally guaranteed: the right of artists and creators to receive remuneration for the economic exploitation of their works in the digital environment”.

Affected authors, favored companies

Different entities noted that broadcasting companies “refuse to recognize that the changes occurred in the digital environment during recent years should result in a new remuneration model for creators and artists”.

Currently, such remuneration – if any – is based on contracts for the assignment of rights, the terms of which are not negotiated and contain unfair and invalid clauses, such as those referring to the validity of contracts “for technologies to be invented in the future” and which last throughout the entire period of protection of authors’ rights, that is to say, until the works or performances are in the public domain, which occurs after 70 years in the audiovisual environment.

Broadcasting companies want such contracts, which have included the use in the digital environment for 5, 10 or 15 years, to prevail over a new law that restructures and upgrades the relations between existing companies in the current digital environment and creators.

This lack of agreement does not only damage the artistic and cultural sector as a whole, but also journalism. It even affects the media that do not operate as digital platforms and the professionals who work in such area.

The President of DBCA, Henrique de Freitas Lima, explained to AV Creators News that “the refusal to pay the remuneration rights of audiovisual authors in the digital environment takes place mainly with platforms linked to broadcasting companies, especially in Globoplay from the Globo group, which has radio, paid and open television, newspapers, among others. They are avoiding the agreement and the treatment of the Draft Bill and, without this agreement, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, does not want to submit it to a vote”.

The audiovisual director and lawyer also explained that “the same Bill includes the payment request for the use of journalistic contents by platforms. In summary, they want to collect for the use of journalistic contents but they do not want to pay our rights. The main point of conflict is their will not to pay for the existing repertoire. A transition period has been offered, but they just do not want to pay so we will keep trying to negotiate until exhaustion”.

Henrique de Freitas Lima, Director, Screenwriter and DBCA President

During negotiations, authors and artists even accepted a three-year transition period so that national streaming companies related to broadcasting may adapt to the creation of the compensatory remuneration stated by the Bill 2370/2019, but broadcasting companies want to continue applying the same adhesion contracts they currently use, even after the approval of the new law.

“This only benefits one side of this entire creative chain and it represents the adoption of the same predatory business model applied by the Big Techs, which in fact, caused the strike of screenwriters and authors in the United States. The battle we are fighting here is the same that is taking place there. With the imposition of this predatory business model by national broadcasting companies, negotiations could not go any further since it strictly punishes thousands of professionals that do not have a fixed income”, the entities that group directors, screenwriters, producers, actors and musicians together explained.

Currently, audiovisual authors, actors and musicians do not receive anything apart from the amounts of their contracts and many of them live in a situation of extreme vulnerability. For example, an actor or screenwriter who works in a movie or soap opera, gets paid when hired. Then, that movie or soap opera is reproduced and exhibited millions of times on streaming platforms – generating permanent profits for companies – but none of this is shared with creators.

“If a film or series has a large audience (views), nothing is shared with its creators. They do not receive a cent, in contrast to what is done by platforms of other countries. We stand for a fair remuneration for the use of our creations in the digital environment, that is all. It is the same struggle of US screenwriters and actors, who have even gone on strike just looking for this”, workers explained in the joint release.

Finally, they reaffirmed they are willing to “dialogue” and determined to “move forward”. Regardless of the outcome of these negotiations, they asserted that they “will continue with an ever greater impulse in the collective organization of the sector. In the last few months, we have achieved an unprecedented union between music and audiovisual sectors in Brazil and we want to emphasize that we will not abandon this struggle for our rights”.


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