Strasbourg EU conference on management and legitimate use of intellectual property, speech by Anne Louise Schelin, 11 July 2000

Intervention by Anne Louise Schelin on behalf of IFJ

I’m very glad to have been given this opportunity to explain why it is so important for the IFJ that both economic and moral rights protect the works of journalists and press photographers and their media colleagues in all the different types of media.

Much has been said and written about this and the IFJ has also contributed to the thorough report made by Professor Alain Strowel and his assistants Marjut Salokannel and Estelle Derclaye.

I have only 10 minutes, so I’ll try to outline some major points and observations.

I’m sure we all have as our common goal for Europe (and the world for that matter) to have an editorially independent press. And also that our press should be diverse and live up to the standards of good press conduct as these ethical rules are defined in each individual democratic member country. In order to further strengthen our democracies we surely also agree that the press plays an important role and that any change in the quality and ethical standards of the press should further a positive development and not the opposite.

In this respect it is essential that journalism, press photography, TV-reporting, documentarism et cetera be defined as works protected by authors rights in all EU countries. We know that this is essential from positive experience in the many European countries where this protection exists and is taken absolutely for granted.

This hearing and the report from Professor Alain Strowel is on moral rights, and moral rights are extremely important for all authors. And because of the obligations of the individual journalist to observe good press conduct – the rights are especially so for journalists.

But the moral rights cannot really be seen separately from the economic rights and when we look at the actual problems we are facing because of the damages to the single market caused by the unlevelled playing field, a clear pattern can be seen. Where the protection of moral rights is low or non-existent – the same goes for the rest of the authors’ rights.

In the UK and in Ireland the reporting of current affairs whether done in words, by photography or otherwise is not considered to be works that are protected by authors rights.

In the same countries and the Netherlands systems similar to the work-for-hire system of the US are in force. This type of legislation means that employed journalists or journalists who work “under a contract of service” have no possibilities of negotiating conditions for the resale or reuse of their works whether these uses are present or future, national or international, use for advertisement purposes or not.

That is if their works are considered to be protected works in the first place.

In the UK and Ireland moral rights protection does not apply for the reporting of current affairs. And authors whose works can be protected by moral rights have to claim these rights for them to apply. In other words those who are so lucky as to be afforded moral rights protection can also be pressurised into waiving them in full.

As I’m sure Professor Strowels report will show us several variants of systems exist within the EU, but it is problems caused by the low or non existent protection in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands that cause the major problems within Europe.