Copyright Management - The Key Challenge for Authors' Societies in Latin America

Writers & Directors Worldwide brought the voice of the creator to the international stage again this week as chairman Yves Nilly delivered a keynote speech at the "International Conference on Copyright and Collective Management" in Buenos Aires. The event was organised by CISAC, ARGENTORES, SADAIC and DAC, with the sponsorship of AASAI. Nilly was joined by around 150 authors and representatives of authors' societies, broadcasters, service providers and music publishers from all over the world. Amongst these were Dr. Ricardo Forster, Representative of the Government of Argentina - Secretary of State; Gadi Oron, Director General of CISAC; Miguel Angel Diani, Chairman of ARGENTORES; Victor Yunes Castillo, Chairman of SADAIC and Carlos Galettini, Chairman of DAC. The focus of the conference was a discussion on the need to further strengthen collective management of audiovisual rights in the region. Yves Nilly's entire keynote speech is reproduced below:
In recent months, audiovisual authors and their collective management societies in Latin America and the Caribbean have made a number of incredible achievements. You will hear more about this in a few minutes so I won’t go into detail, but a particular highlight for me was the formation of ADAL, the Latin American Audiovisual Directors Alliance. With strong support and coordination from DAC Argentina, ADAL is the first regional alliance of directors from Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and very soon, from Brazil also. It was created to encourage the growth of local Collective Management Associations in the audiovisual sector and in association with CISAC, their actions in various countries have been very successful. I’m speaking to you today as a creator of course, but also as the president of Writers & Directors Worldwide. This umbrella organisation is dedicated to supporting our rights, is an official observer at WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights in Geneva, and crucially, is made up entirely of other creators like us.   The issues that our colleagues in Latin American and the Caribbean are facing are mirrored in all parts of the world. Directors and writers from Asia Pacific, Africa and Europe, as well as lawmakers and the global public are watching these changes in copyright and intellectual property law with great interest and optimism.   Just a few days ago, a meeting of European filmmakers in Rome made a declaration that explained how our works, whether films for cinema or television, exist as a form of “hope”. They contribute to the strengthening of our national identities. They promote culture, diversity and economic growth. And while they of course provide entertainment, they also stimulate understanding and empathy in our communities.   Despite these contributions however, the basic incentive for audiovisual creation is under threat and more than ever, needs firm action and updated regulations to protect it. We must improve the circulation of national works, protect the existence of the movie theatres that bring people together, and build strong legal digital platforms that fairly share their value between all stakeholders and the creators at the centre of the industry.   The new global players need to become our partners in a sustainable system that acts to produce, distribute and reinvest in our works by protecting the fair remuneration of authors.   This issue is more pressing today than ever before as Internet services stream more audiovisual content, to more people, across more devices. Yet creators, usually the weakest party in any contract negotiation, are often denied access to the revenue from this fast growing digital market.   At our last annual general meeting held some 7000 kilometres north of here, Writers & Directors Worldwide launched a clear call to action titled the Mexico Manifesto.   In this document, we detailed the cultural and economic contributions made by audiovisual creators and gave clear guidance for decision makers to address the issues that restrict them. We called on national governments and lawmakers to adopt copyright legislation that provides writers and directors with an unwaivable right to remuneration that is compulsorily negotiated with users of these works and managed on a collective basis.   This in our view is the key challenge we face today in all regions of the globe. And yet, the amazing responses to our campaigns that we have seen recently from governments in Argentina, Chile or Colombia shows that Latin America can take the lead.  By requiring that contracts provide either proportional remuneration in the form of royalties rather than a lump sum, or equitable remuneration for each mode of exploitation of the work, this fast growing region can show the rest of the world the way.   These governments recognise that directors and screenwriters need to be considered authors of their work and be fairly remunerated as a result. This is the strong message that we can send to all our international colleagues fighting parallel battles with their lawmakers.   To illustrate the scale of the challenge faced in Europe today, here is a fascinating if somewhat depressing statistic. Of the 122 billion euros of revenue generated by the European audiovisual sector last year, less that half of one percent was distributed to writers and directors. This isn’t only inequitable … it’s completely unsustainable.   Writing or directing a film can take many years and is a full-time job. But a large proportion of this work is unpaid. While the public may be familiar with a handful of superstar directors, the reality is that most of us are not rich and rely on our royalties to navigate the cycles of paid and unpaid work that are inevitable within any creative industry. And what about the young authors starting their careers? They need an environment that encourages them to grow, to work in their own environment and culture, and to tell their personal stories.   Thanks to your efforts, things are changing. We individual authors need a fair and transparent international system where the final distributor of an audiovisual work, whether a TV company or a VOD website, is considered by law to be responsible for payments to the authors; payments that are collected and distributed by their CMS’s.   We are all very lucky to be doing wonderful jobs that we love. We are part of an amazingly vibrant and innovative industry that every country should be proud of. And the cultural landscape we help to form is celebrated around the world. But the world also needs to remember the authors. Without authors, there are no works and there is no audience.   Yves Nilly - Chair, Writers & Directors Worldwide

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