European songwriters and composers met with the Members of the European Parliament today to express their concerns about the growing phenomenon of buy-out and work-made-for-hire contracts imposed on them by the major non-EU based VOD platforms.
Buy-out contracts force creators to waive their copyright/authors’ rights in full or in part, effectively eliminating the possibility of receiving future royalties for the use of their work. Coercive practices imposed directly or indirectly by giant non-EU VOD platforms deprive audiovisual (or screen) composers from an appropriate and proportionate remuneration, as well as the exercise of their moral rights. They severely undermine creators’ ability to earn a living through their artistic work. Authors even lose ownership of their work in the case of work-made-for-hire contracts.
Eleanor McEvoy, IMRO Chairperson and renowned Irish singer-songwriter, said: “We celebrated together when Europe adopted the new Copyright Directive in 2019 and provided harmonised rules for authors’ protection. As European authors, we cannot accept that those rules are not being applied by the market’s dominant players simply because it does not fit to their business model. Today, we need Europe on our side once more”.
Helienne Lindvall, President of ECSA, said: “The issue is about fairness, since refusing such buy-out provisions is very difficult for composers due to the risk of being blacklisted. The options are either accepting the terms of a contract, however damaging, and thereby giving away the royalties they should be entitled to receive or losing the opportunity to work in a project handled by a very popular and dominant VOD platform and taking the risk of never working again for them.” She added “We need EU-wide rules to ensure fairness and create real choices for creators”.
Véronique Desbrosses, General Manager of GESAC said: “Buy-outs imposed on creators by VOD platforms have become a growing phenomenon, with the dominance of US-based services in the market importing only the most harmful part of their national practices into Europe. To circumvent fair compensation requirement in Europe, US-based VOD platforms rely on the US laws and the jurisdiction of US courts. The intervention of EU decision makers is needed to end this unfairness and ensure that internal market rules are applied to all players!”
Manel Santisteban, award-winning Spanish Screen composer, said: “My fellow screen composers and I are witnessing every day the buy-out contracts imposed by US based VOD platforms to deprive us from our rights and the royalties we deserve. In a global audiovisual market, royalties from different countries are increasingly important to get a fair share from the successes of our works. European policy makers have a duty to prevent buy-out contracts and ensure that appropriate and proportionate remuneration is a reality for European composers”.
Anselm Kreuzer, German composer, and Board member of ECSA, said: “No one can ever predict the full range of exploitation for a piece of music at the moment of its creation. Therefore, it’s not possible to ensure proportionate remuneration through buy-out with one-time payment. That’s why collective rights management is the most effective and fairest way to ensure an author’s participation based on the economic benefit that his or her work brings”.