Lights and action on authors’ royalties

Screenwriters and directors from around the world share their experiences and call for action on royalties

Paris – 7th October 2021 –  Acclaimed screenwriters and directors from four continents have come together to highlight the lack of fair rights for audiovisual authors and support action to guarantee their right to earn royalties.

Five prominent audiovisual authors – Olatz ARROYO, Kiyoshi KUROSAWAEsther MORALES, Cheick OUMAR SISSOKOand Jan SARDI – shared their personal experiences about why receiving royalties for the exploitation of their works is essential to their lives. Yet this right is denied to audiovisual creators in all but a few countries. 

Despite their different backgrounds –  from Japan, Spain, Mali, and Australia –  they shared  common insights on the challenges for authors building their careers.  Receiving a fair share of the success for their films and TV series is critical to help audiovisual authors to pay their bills and to re-invest in creative ideas resulting in new works for the audience to enjoy. Directors and screenwriters are at the heart of audiovisual production – but in many parts of the world they receive no royalties for the exploitation of their work. 

  • Cheick OUMAR SISSOKO explained that in Mali, both creators and decision-makers need training to address a severe lack of awareness about authors’ rights. 
  • Kiyoshi KUROSAWA’s experience of losing a year-long court case in Japan demonstrates the weakness of a system were no right to remuneration is enshrined in law. 
  • Esther MORALES and Olatz ARROYO, from Spain, work in one of the few countries that protects its authors by guaranteeing an unwaivable right to remuneration collectively managed by author societies. Both creators expressed concern that, in an increasingly global landscape, this is not the case in most other countries of the world.
  • Jan SARDI underlined the central role of screenwriters and directors in productions, which is not matched by the protection of their rights. He emphasised that people pay streaming services to hear the stories written and directed by the creators. When the industry makes money, the authors should also be remunerated in a fair and proportionate way

The creators were joined by legal experts at the event, jointly organized by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA), and Writers & Directors Worldwide (W&DW).

Cécile DESPRINGRE (Executive Director, SAA), Yves NILLY (Chair, W&DW) and Cristina PERPIÑÁ-ROBERT NAVARRO (Director of Legal Affairs, CISAC) set out how legislators can act to improve the situation.  They called for a legal environment that efficiently protects and remunerate creators for the exploitation of their works. This will stimulate the creation of original quality content that can compete on a more and more globalized market. 

The experts highlighted two case studies of the situation Spain and Italy demonstrate that, far from being an obstacle, legal recognition of remuneration rights to audiovisual authors, with collective management, helps support industry growth.