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07.10.2015

Op-ed: "As Grexit becomes more distant, the Forum d’Avignon is concerned about a possible authorxit"

After the vote by the European Parliament on the Reda report Thursday, July 9th, two directors of the Forum d’Avignon fear of how it continues to oppose the rights of the public, artists and creators against each other. Far from being satisfied by the final report, the two signatories of this op-ed are worried about a single market that would in the benefit only the de-territorialized platforms. 

Op-ed previously published in french in l'Usine Digitale

History is made such that coincidences of calendar sometimes combine surprising paradoxes. While Europe has succeeded in convincing Greece to respect the rules for realistic cohabitation, and that festivals are welcoming growing number of amateurs, since yesterday authors, artists and readers, spectators, listeners, practitioners have been institutionally placed with their backs to one another. July 9th, the report from the Julia Reda pirate party’s member of the European Parliament, despite numerous amendments was adopted by the European Parlimanet. Who can celebrate this?   

RIGHTS FOR THE PUBLIC AGAINST COPYRIGHT: AN UNPRODUCTIVE DEAD END

After the surprise created in January by the Juncker Commission and the first version of the Reda report as requested by the European Parliament, everyone is seizing the subject on copyright, accused of blocking the single market, when on the contrary, we need to consider an updated remuneration system for creators alongside that of a single digital market. Madame Reda in her press release stood by her position: ‘I shall continue to fight against the bad ideas that slipped inside the report, and to request that good things should be integrated in it”.

AN EYE FOR AN EYE

After the vote that everyone could lay claim as– justifiably – victories, progress. Everyone seems to agree for a “copyright reform”, even though we can question the word ‘reform’. Copyright has never been, despite Mme Reda’s affirmation, an obstacle to the circulation of artists’ works, it is even an architect for freedom of speech like for author remuneration. Recent events show that authors must be protected and their remuneration has to become consolidated (thus the opening of the European directive for the electronic market that is one of the responses to vitalize the single market).

To Mme. Reda’s immense demise, who never questions on who will first benefit from the digital single market with a copyright reduced to its congruous portions…If it isn’t for the extra-territorial platforms that contribute neither to the remuneration of creators, nor to European culture…

Mobilization in support of creation continues despite the vote and the Mme Reda’s satisfaction. On the author’s side, the principal victories are concerning territoriality, the norm, against the cut on protective periods – the subject on which numerous authors have expressed to agree on a cut. In fact, the vague desires of the initial report such as how all exceptions should be obligatory throughout the entire European territory; shelved away – for now – ideas for a “flexible and open norm” – inside Pandora’s box – and the elimination on the rule of exceptionality on works created by public institutions.

Two symbolic combats fought by the MEP Reda, have also been lost: the freedom of panorama – the permission for right holders is maintained -, the amendment on audiovisual citing which would have notably widen the permission to video, the current citing in text. The question on public domains remains vague, as many consider that opening a window for discussion on these topics would expose the whole sphere of public and private creation.

KEEP A GLOBAL VIEW FOR THE SURVIVAL OF AUTHORS

May it be that such considerations invite us to question, first on the level or urgency in European policy need to support creation, then on how to distribute added value for creators that is for now is distorted by platforms, in sum on how to frame the issue as related to the future of European culture, and jobs for the future generations of creators…The cultural and creatives sectors represent more than 9 million jobs in Europe. Is this not a more noble cause to fight for than once again, like always, face public’s rights against copyright?

The good news from this parliamentary vote? The role of the European Parliament within public debate and the beginning of an awareness amongst MEPs that Europe tomorrow will be built thanks to a common cultural project. Authors and citizens, let’s move together to defend creation!

By Laure Kaltenbach, Managing Director & Oliver Le Guay, Editorial Manager, Forum d’Avignon