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Response to government policy statement

2 July 2012

 

The Creators' Rights Alliance welcomes the government's statement in a policy document released today that it "wants to ensure copyright makes the greatest possible contribution to UK economic growth and to our society".

The CRA's member organisations represent around 100,000 individual creators - the authors and performers without whose work there would be no "creative economy" contributing to growth.

In particular, we welcome the assurances on proposals to be brought forward in the near future:

1) On extended collective licensing ("ECL"):

The government assures us that:

i) A collecting society applying for ECL will be required to demonstrate that it is significantly representative of rights holders affected by the scheme.

ii) A collecting society applying for ECL will be required to demonstrate that it had the support of its members for the application.

iii) A collecting society applying for ECL will need to have in place a code of conduct, to ensure minimum standards of governance, transparency and protection for non-member rights holders.

iv) A rights holder will always retain the capacity to opt out of an ECL scheme.

2) On orphan works - those for which authors or performers cannot be located:

The government assures us that:

    • ...permission should come at an appropriate price – a market rate, to the extent that one can be established (though the difficulties that may attend establishing that, for example in respect of works not created for publication that are in museums’ collections, are noted).

    • This price should be payable in advance (or at agreed times if there is a royalty element) and set aside for any rights holders who may still appear even after a diligent search has not found them.

    • Licences will, necessarily, be non-exclusive.

    • Moral rights should be respected and protected. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, it will be assumed that moral rights have not been waived and that all orphan works should be attributed to their authors, where their names are known.
    ...
    • The scheme will not take the form of an exception to copyright, but will be based on authorisation by an independent body, i.e. not the same body which wishes to exploit the orphan work

Significant issues remain, however, and must be addressed before creators will accept that these proposals indeed support the creative economy and do not undermine their capability to make a living as the dedicated professionals it needs as its foundation if it is to be sustainable.

As we said in our submission to the government's consultation on these proposals:

"There is no point in legislating ever so carefully for proper remuneration through extended collective licensing, or for exceptions to copyright bearing a right of remuneration, if publishers and broadcasters can then inform creators that they must sign over all such income, or never work in the industry again. Such offered contracts are commonplace and are documented for example in the regular British Photographic Council surveys."

There are also issue around the ease with which creators can be pressured into waiving their rights to be identified and to defend the integrity of their work - rights which are as important to the citizen who wants to know that the work they are paying for is what it says it is as they are to the citizen who creates works.

The CRA also shares the concerns of other organisations about the apparent rush to bring forward legislation and the indications that this may be done in a way that will restrict scrutiny of the proposed law in the House of Commons.

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