The route to better contracts is through Collective Bargaining

By remuneration we mean the total income of screenwriters from their audiovisual work.

On the initiative of our colleagues in FERA, FSE members participated in a major study on the remuneration of audiovisual authors. The median audiovisual author starts her/his career earning less than €12,000 per annum after tax. After 16 years of work she/he earns €19,000 from audiovisual work. About 10% of this comes from secondary payments. A median author has 1 year in 5 where she/he has no earnings from audiovisual work whatever.

This is obviously unfair and unjust but is also profoundly inefficient. The weak negotiating position of individual creators was pointed out by European Commission in initial studies and in the impact assessment prepared prior to the first proposal by the Commission of the Copyright Directive.

The fundamental policy goal of FSE therefore is to address the low income and unstable careers of screenwriters.

In addition to undertaking work in the writing of screenplays, writers also, in the act of writing, create intellectual property. The control of their exclusive rights and the consequent opportunities for licensing gives them an opportunity for ongoing sharing in the economic life of what they create, which both adds to their income and helps to even out that income over time.

Ensuring that screenwriters can licence their work especially for online use remains an important policy goal for FSE.

However, the relative values of contract-based payments corresponding to secondary payments ensure that screenwriters’ initial contracts remain the key focus for screenwriters and their guilds, and therefore for FSE.

The route to better contracts is through Collective Bargaining. The recognition of this in the Copyright Directive is very encouraging.

Implementation of the Copyright Directive and in particular of its endorsement of Collective Bargaining will be the focus of FSE policy and activity over the next years.

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