EFJ Survey on Collecting Systems for Journalists' Authors' Rights in the European Union

General conclusions

The results of the EFJ survey make it clear that much work remains to be done to ensure that journalists receive fair remuneration for the use and re-use of their work. There have been improvements in some countries, and the increase in remuneration for re-use of authors' rights over the past ten years, where collecting society exist, is - at least from an economic point of view - a real success story. 

This shows that the management of the existing collecting societies works efficiently, whatever the model used. Collective licensing arrangements are the Nordic solution to copyright permissions. In Germany and other Central European states levies are dominant. Blank tape levies, however, are also common in the Scandinavian countries. 

Most difficulties concern digital use of printed or audiovisual works. Introducing improvements in this field is an enormous challenge. The EU Directive on copyright and related rights in the information society is obvisously neglected in most EU countries. 

In some countries the general situation is really embarrassing. At the top of this list is Italy, one of the founding stated of the EU. A possible explanation for this anomaly might be the mixture of political power and media ownership in the country: the responsability of the state authority for media affairs combined with the interests of media owners is currently an obstacle to the introduction of a fair system of remuneration for journalists as rights holders. The position of journalists in some of the new EU member states, and even in some EU applicants states, is better than that facing journalists in Italy. This is particularly embarrassing for a country in which the history of authors' rights begins with the first law regulating copies of works, adopted in Venice in 1574. 

But Italy does not stand alone. The position in Portugal, an EU member state since 1986, is poor. Austria must be mentioned - as well as France, Greece and the United Kingdom where no fair treatment is given to journalists. 

The survey reveals significant problems in many of the "new" EU member states that joined the union in 2004. The interest of authors were not on the agenda during the process of harmonisation of systems and rights; they were not made a condition for accession and were largely ignored.

This omission must be corrected. The European Commission must ensure that the "new" EU member states implement the legal conditions for the creation of transparent and democratic collecting societies.

In Central and Eastern Europe the issue of authors' rights has the potential to be an instrument to promote social dialogue. It is fertile ground for negotiation of nation-wide agreements and could possibly bring journalists and publishers together in alliances to the extent that they have common economic interests that can be administered by a collecting society from which both parties can benefit.

The question of fair remuneration for authors and the specific question of collecting systems must be put on the negotiation agenda for each of the remaining applicant states This is necessary to avoid repeating the mistake made in the case of the states which became EU members in 2004. This question should be raised in the negotiations for Stabilisations and Association Agreements. That is especially important in the case of Turkey, considering the lack of awareness of authors' rights shown by the administration of the nothern part of Cyprus, reveales by this survey.

In some cases it was obvious that even union experts answering the questionnaire did not have sufficient information about the work of the national collecting society. This shows an obvisous lack of effectiveness, transparency and democratic structures in some of the countries. 

Download the survey (PDF)

Corrigendum - the situation in Belgium (PDF)

This study has received financial support from the European Union. Sole responsibility of the information contained therein lies with the European Federation of Journalists.