The study provides insight in a field which so far has not been explored by the European Commission and thereby supports evidence-based policy-making in the area of copyright. A follow up study on the remuneration of authors in the print sector should be available in early 2016.
The issue of authors' and performers' remuneration, and more broadly the copyright contracts which specify this remuneration, is largely governed by national laws of the Member States, and for this reason there are disparities between the situations of creators across Europe.
As part of its Digital Single Market Strategy, the Commission will look into a fairer remuneration of creators, with the participation of all players in the value chain.
Key findings; transparency, scope of transfer, role of trade unions & associations
The study was conducted for the European Commission by Europe Economics Ltd and the Institute for Information Law at the University of Amsterdam. It compares, from legal and economic perspectives, the existing national systems of remuneration for authors and performers and identifies the relative advantages and disadvantages of those systems for them. Key findings include.
- There is a lack of transparency of the remuneration arrangements in the contracts of authors and performers in relation to the rights transferred. The complex contractual relations between creators on the one hand and publishers, producers and collective management organisations on the other, make it hard for authors and performers to understand what remuneration they are owed for the exploitation of their rights. This is particularly relevant in relation to the digital forms of exploitation.
- Even when authors and performers understand how much they should earn from the exploitation of their rights, they may not have access to information that would enable them to verify whether or not they receive the correct payments.
Scope of transfer
- Certain groups of authors and performers, such as those new to the industry, are in a weaker bargaining position than others. Problems however arise if they get locked into long contracts with relatively unfavourable terms, in particular if they become successful.
- To alleviate this problem, the laws of a number of Member States, in different ways, expressly regulate the transfer of rights relating to forms of exploitation that are unknown or unforeseeable at the time the copyright contract was concluded, as well as the transfer of rights relating to future works and performances.
- In some Member States collective action by unions and associations (and collective management organisations that fulfil similar functions) play an important role, especially for authors and performers in the audio-visual sector.
- Besides providing support at the time of negotiating remuneration agreements (including both direct support and the assistance provided through the union’s involvement in preparing and promoting model contracts), unions and associations can also be effective at the moment of enforcing agreements. Nevertheless, unions and associations of authors and performers have not been set up in all Member States or, where they have, for all categories of authors and performers.
The study outlines a series of policy options where intervention at EU or national level may be effective. They focus on the contracts of authors and performers, transparency of the national systems, scope for transferring rights for future works and performances and future modes of exploitation, the role of unions, freelance associations and collective management organisations (when they fulfil similar functions) and on the exercise of the right of making available to the public.