<center>21-22 November 2003, Ljubljana, Slovenia</center>
On May 1st 2004, ten EU acceding countries, namely Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia are set to join the European Union. In this respect, these countries will have to comply with the existing acquis communautaire, that is, the common rules, standards and policy that make up the body of EU law, and amongst which we find authors’ rights.
In order to raise journalists from EU acceding countries’ awareness on the existing acquis communautaire regarding authors’ rights the EFJ, together with the Union of Slovenian Journalists and the Slovene Association of Journalists organised their first seminar on EU acceding countries in Ljubjana, Slovenia on 21-22 November 2003. The event was financially supported by the European Commission.
The seminar that included academic speeches, as well as a series of roundtables and workshops, brought together 50 participants representing 17 European countries. The high quality level of the debates and the enthusiasm of the participants clearly showed the willingness of journalists to learn about authors’ rights and take initiatives to defend their rights. The seminar helped to bring journalists up to date with the existing acquis communautaire, to compare existing legislation and practices and to find ways to improve authors’ rights protection in EU acceding countries.
Discussions showed that most EU acceding countries have now implemented the core EU directives protecting authors’ rights. However, some important issues such as moral rights or contracts are not regulated at an EU level and are therefore left for member states to decide. Consequently a number of differences exist amongst EU and EU acceding countries’ national laws and the situation is far from being ideal in practice.
Contractual agreements usually do not provide for extra remuneration for reuse of journalists’ works and most EU acceding countries face the problem of press clipping agencies, which make use of journalists’ materials without any further remuneration. Discussions also emphasised the actual difficulties faced by freelancers and their weak bargaining power.
Emphasis was put on the importance to receive a fair remuneration for reuse of journalists’ work, the value of moral rights protection and the need to develop collective agreements which should act as safeguards for authors’ rights protection. Moreover, the seminar outlined the role that collecting societies could play in managing journalists’ authors’ rights.
The seminar will eventually help updating the EFJ authors’ rights handbook by including relevant information on the situation regarding journalists in EU acceding countries.
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