EFJ Welcomes Call for Copyright Reform to Guarantee Fair Pay for Authors

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 other creators.  

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 Group. 

"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

The 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