The Senate of the Republic of Colombia has today formally approved a vital change in the country’s legislation that will for the first time allow local audiovisual creators to receive an equitable share in the success of their work. The new legislation is based upon that already successfully operating in France, Spain, Chile and India. It modifies the Colombian author’s rights law of 1982 by adding a right to remuneration for screenwriters and directors from the public broadcast of their works.
Today’s announcement is the culmination of two year’s lobbying by Directores Audiovisuales Sociedad Colombiana (DASC) and the Colombian screenwriters’ society (REDES), supported internationally by Writers & Directors Worldwide, CISAC and by Directors argentinos cinematograficos (DAC). The movement was known as the “Pepe Sánchez Act” after the award-winning Colombian writer and director who provided an important voice on behalf of creators throughout the campaign and who sadly passed away in December.
The legislative change brought about by the Pepe Sánchez Act is also the cornerstone of “The Audiovisual Campaign”, an international movement led by Writers & Directors Worldwide that aims to give all authors working in this repertoire the right to receive fair remuneration for the reuse or rebroadcast of their work. In most countries today, this right is not set into law which means the creator at the very heart of a project rarely receives the same treatment as the various operators and broadcasters that distribute it.
This matters because the overwhelming majority of screenwriters and directors are self-employed individuals, and the process of bringing new work to the screen is long and uncertain. Without the ability to earn a fair livelihood from their back catalogue, many are forced to leave the industry and their contribution to the economic and cultural growth of their countries is lost. The extent of this global issue is highlighted in recent figures showing that less than one fifth of UK writers can make a living from writing alone and that 50% of Australian Directors Guild members earn less than half the national average wage. Conversely, in Europe alone the audiovisual and film sector contributes 2.6% of the regional GDP and supports 5.8 million jobs so the importance of robust protection is clear.
Colombia has recognised, along with Argentina and Chile, that a strong, healthy, growing film industry depends on laws that ensure its audiovisual creators are fairly rewarded. Audiovisual authors usually negotiate contracts before the work goes into production, with no means of gauging how successful or not it will be worldwide and for all types of use. Having an unassignable, unwaivable right to proportional remuneration set into law redresses this imbalance. It allows us to make a livelihood, stimulates the production of new work and drives growth in the creative economy meaning that everybody can benefit. We need a universal right for a global market.”
Yves Nilly – Author and President of Writers & Directors Worldwide
The success in Colombia comes just seven months after a similar change was signed into legislation by the Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet. The “Ricardo Larraín Law” movement was led by the local National Society of Authors of Theatre, Film and Media (ATN-Chile) and again supported internationally by Writers & Directors Worldwide, CISAC and DAC.
Together, these two victories demonstrate both the global momentum being built around The Audiovisual Campaign today, and the wider recognition of creators’ rights that is being adopted by national lawmakers in all regions as a stimulus to cultural and economic development.