The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today
welcomed the call by Antonio Vitorino, the European Commission's mediator on copyright
contract law reform, for a fair share of licence revenues for journalists and
Vitorino, the mediator appointed by the European
Commission to review private copying and reprography levies, has recommended
the introduction of mandatory rules in copyright contract law or labour law to
ensure authors and performers receive an adequate share of income generated
from their works. He further pointed out that authors and performers suffer
from a lack of bargaining power and there is a need to improve the situation.
"We are glad that Mr Vitorino has backed our view that copyright
contract law must end unfair contracts and the imbalance in bargaining facing
journalists and other creators," said EFJ President Arne König.
The call came at the end of a detailed review of current
private copying and reprography levy systems in the EU. Vitorino's report
proposes replacing the current levy on the sales of copying equipment with a form
of licence-fee system. The levy collected should then be distributed to authors
and other rightholders.
The EFJ position was set out in a letter to Vitorino sent in May 2012.
"Private copying and reprography levies are an important
source of income for journalists," said König. "However, journalists and
creators can only benefit from it if two conditions are met."
"First, collecting societies collecting and distributing
these levies must operate in a democratic and transparent way to ensure fees
are distributed to journalists."
"Second, a copyright contract law that allows journalists
and creators to receive a fair share of licence revenues and an equal
bargaining footing must be put in place before a licence-fee system is introduced."
"Policy-makers should be reminded of the harsh reality that journalists
are often forced to sign away their authors' rights to employers," König
insisted. "This means that all revenues will go to the pocket of publishers.
Journalists will receive nothing in the end."
"This is particularly the case for freelances who are often
in a weaker position to negotiate against big media companies. Most of the
time, they are not even covered by collective agreements," said Mike
Holderness, freelance journalist and Chair of the EFJ Authors' Rights Expert
"We hope that Commissioner Michel Barnier will take this
particular recommendation on board to eradicate unfair contracts through the
legal guarantee of fair remuneration for authors in copyright contract law,"
said König. "Such a measure is long overdue."
Read Mr Vitorino's Recommendations HERE.
EFJ is the European group of the International Federation of Journalists and it
represents over 300,000 journalists in 37 countries.
For more information contact the EFJ at +32 2 235 2200