Brazil: Targeting the Future - An Article by Sylvio Back

Filmmaker, Sylvio Back, attended the Writers & Directors Worldwide annual congress in November and representing the Brazilian Film and Audiovisual Directors General Association, presented a summary of the situation for authors in his home country. Right now, DBCA is expecting authorisation from the Ministry of Culture to begin collecting and distributing rights for works broadcast at home and abroad, so it's an exciting time for creators in this region. Sylvio's speech is reproduced below and gives an insight into the significance of fair remuneration for audiovisual authors.


Targeting the future

The expression “Brazil, land of the future”, a title of a Stefan Zweig book published in 1941, is as emblematic as it is perverse, often used as a sort of ironic epithet of a nation for which the future fails to come! As the author of “Lost Zweig”, a theatrical film about the famous Jewish novelist from Austria that committed suicide in Brazil during World War II, I can say I speak from experience. Brazilian directors and screenwriters of TV, films, documentaries and animations, as well as interpreters and voice actors, are on the verge of receiving explicit authorisation from the Brazilian Ministry of Culture to collect and distribute royalties from broadcasters (open and cable TV channels; cinemas and film distributors; mobile phone operators and digital platforms such as streaming and data storage clouds, etc.). Our strengthened audiovisual sector can finally take a deep breath, as it is now able to forecast hope and success. These glad tidings are to be given for they coincide with an unprecedented social imaginary, resulting from a wholesome harmonisation coordinated by DBCA (Brazilian Film and Audiovisual Directors General Association) that involved all sectors in the industry: an efficient unified collection of this moral and monetary prevalence from broadcasters, thus conciliating the legal, institutional, and technological interests that all entities compulsorily possess. This is the manifestation of a revolutionary request, steered by DBCA, in the process of fair remuneration of authors’ rights, as it complies with the convened reciprocity standards of CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) and ADAL (the Latin American Audiovisual Directors Alliance, composed of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico), two historical and notorious defenders of the creator’s dignity. It is about time for an end to this discrepancy between the rights collected for authors of musical works and the rights of audiovisual creators. We demand an immediate equivalence to correct this injustice. Brazilian directors and screenwriters are not alone! DBCA’s unparalleled endeavour to get institutional recognition from the Ministry of Culture of Brazil accounts with the unlimited support and prestige of 239 similar organizations in 121 countries from all five continents, encompassed by CISAC and ADAL. Like us, they are intransigent advocates for a fair remuneration of the public communication of works from any repertoire. This significant milestone is leading us to a virtuous setting, already compulsory in several countries of Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific, of irrefutable payments from applicable royalties to creators of audiovisual works, in digital and non-digital media. Millions of dollars and euros are being dammed. As reciprocity contracts are signed with sister collective management organisations, this liability will be repatriated and become a substantial patrimony, able to revitalise the creative economy completely, not only to the benefit of the authors but also of the cultural and artistic development of the country. If authors’ rights are the salary of the creator, they are also by extension, a market in its most legitimate sense, for one does not survive without the production of the other. It is a primary human right and an inextricable part of the soul, as per the holistic hegemony, acknowledged since the Enlightenment of the 18th century. A superb intangible property in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), unassignable and unwaivable by nature, that classifies this right as a part of a person’s distinct richness. This is what creators need for a equitable remuneration when producing works that are taken to the final buyer. Never before have authors faced so much unrebuked pilfering from so many broadcasters as they face today. We know that the creator is the primary holder of the rights of his creature, from its elaboration to its public communication and fruition in any vertical and horizontal support, physical or digital. In this grim situation of widespread bootlegging, the author’s invaluable moral authority is the totalising DNA of the work. This is at the heart of a topic that is of the utmost importance in these dire times. As highlighted by Colombian congresswoman Clara Rojas, suppressing this payment is an outrage to human rights: authors’ rights are human rights. To which the Chilean lawyer Santiago Schuster emphatically adds: “creators without authors’ rights are citizens deprived of political rights”. On the brink of honouring its considerable audiovisual estate with the collection and distribution of authors’ rights at a national and international level by an unique collecting entity, Brazil confirms its solidarity to all creators, through DBCA’s active voice. We henceforth reiterate our unyielding commitment to continue supporting the political, institutional and technological efforts made by CISAC, through Writers & Directors Worldwide, and ADAL, a group of entities whose essential and collective endeavour is leading to an ultimate global redemption of our sacred authors’ rights. Sylvio Back, Brazilian filmmaker, poet, screenwriter and writer; President of DBCA