Better technology, better rights!

Since 14 November 2018, actors and musicians have a right to remuneration for cable retransmission, despite the direct injection. Before the new law was adopted, this modern technique used by broadcasters obstructed your cable rights. Technology is constantly changing, so should your rights depend on the means used to broadcast your work?

Better technology, better rights!


WHATEVER TECHNOLOGY IS BEING USED…

Access to audiovisual works and music has never been easier than today, and it generates an increasing amount of revenues. Legislation has, however, not kept up with this evolution: performing artists receive an insufficient or non-existent part for the exploitation of their repertoires. By launching the campaign Kris, artiesten werken ook’ (Kris, artists work as well) in December 2017, we denounced a set of draft bills that attacked your rights as performing artist.

One year later, the adoption of a new legislation has created legal certainty for actors and musicians who are entitled to cable rights, regardless of the technology being used (in this case, the direct injection). We have noted, however, that the technical framework of the texts that comprise your rights as performing artist rarely meets the technological realities of actual (and future) methods of distribution and exploitation. In a world in which technology evolves way faster than our legislations, it is time to introduce the following notion: no matter how a work is being distributed, the revenues generated by this must be distributed equitably amongst all the rights holders, performing artists included.

ONE YEAR LATER: WHAT IS THE SITUATION NOW?

The campaign that was launched in December 2017 denounced three draft texts (bills or royal decrees) that directly attacked your neighbouring rights:

  • The abolition of equitable remuneration for actors: At the end of 2017, a new decree introduced a distinction between phonograms (audio works) and audiovisual works. At the end of 2018, the equitable remuneration for actors was abolished for audiovisual works.
  • Circumvention of the rights of performing artists so that they (still) cannot benefit from the cable rights they are entitled to: the right to a remuneration for cable retransmission, paid by cable operators, is a financial compensation for the distribution of your works via their cable network. De Belgian legislation on neighbouring rights grants this non-transferable right to performers since 2014. By the end of 2017, a new technique, called the direct injection, put your “cable rights” at risk. At the end of 2018, a new legislation for the audiovisual sector finally agrees with you: performing artists should be remunerated for cable retransmission, even in the case of the direct injection.
  • The exemption for liberal professions from paying an equitable remuneration (musicians): this exemption for liberal professions was approved at the end of 2017 and took effect early 2018. The consequence: fewer rights for musicians.

In short, progress has been made this year, but the conclusion remains the same: we must continue to defend the position of the performing artists, and the matter is urgent.

 

The additional annual remuneration: what is it?

In 2011, Europe decided to extend the term of protection for music recordings from 50 to 70 years. Record labels thus enjoy an extra protection of 20 years, and as a musician who can count on a royaltee fee, you enjoy revenues for 20 more years. That is, however, not the case for session musicians who handed over their rights to the record label in exchange for a flat-rate payment, or for any musician that was bought with a one-off payment by his producers.

Is the transition from 50 to 70 years of protection correct in this case?

70 at the price of 50? That is a massive discount… As the European legislator wanted the extension of the term to be to the advantage of all musicians, it obliged the record labels to, after the expiry of the 50-year term, still share their revenues with the musicians whom they do not pay royalties. How?

By yearly transferring 20% of the revenues from these recordings to the collecting societies that represent these musicians.

In 2017 PlayRight obtained an official mandate to collect and distribute this remuneration in Belgium. The additional annual remuneration is valid for tracks that have been recorded in 1963 or later. If you, as a musician, contributed to a recording during the period 1963-1967, and you receive no royalty fee from this exploitation, please verify whether the recordings are added to your PlayRight repertoire. If these recordings are still being sold, downloaded or broadcast via online streaming, you are now entitled to receive part of the revenues generated by this exploitation.   

In addition, the period for which the additional remuneration is collected and paid, increases by one year each single year. For example:

  • In 2019, an additional remuneration will be paid for the repertoire from the period 1963-1968.
  • In 2020, an additional remuneration will be paid for the repertoire from the period 1963-1969, etc.

We therefore advise our members not to limit themselves to the period 1963-1967. If you were active as a musician in the 60s and 70s, it is a good idea to already check whether you declared your entire repertoire in the PlayRight portal. It is necessary that your repertoire is complete in order to correctly claim all revenues produced by the various remuneration rights that you are entitled to, not only the additional remuneration.

2018: What is the current situation?

Since PlayRight was appointed as the responsible collecting society in Belgium, we have been working hard to collect the additional remuneration. PlayRight is currently discussing this with all major record labels in Belgium, and we hope to carry out a first distribution of the additional remuneration in Belgium in 2019.

Interview with the Belgian director Guillaume Senez

Three years after the release of the phenomenal film Keeper, the French-Belgian director Guillaume Senez returns with his new feature film, Our Battles. Although ‘art house cinema’ has its own audience, the director does not hesitate to comment on the lack of funding and a non-existent Belgian star system, which is detrimental for actors and directors.

How do you proceed in writing and choosing your actors?

I do not write for any specific actors; instead it is something I decide once the writing process is completed. I work with two casting directors, one in France and one in Belgium. Even when we receive all available funding means in Belgium, the budget is still not sufficient to be able to comfortably produce a movie and compensate everyone who has participated by legal standards. We are, therefore, obliged to co-produce.

Where did you find funding?

Having the French-Belgian nationality, I logically turned to France for Our Battles. But that is an issue when you want a 100% Belgian cast. For my least feature film, I intended to film everything in the Brussels region. I had about twenty Belgian actors in mind, but due to a lack of (financial) support from that region, we ended up having to film everything in France. Consequently, the Belgian actors dropped out. That is today’s reality. Belgian directors who wish to collaborate with Belgian actors are not always supported by the political authorities. As a director, it then is a logical decision to record a film in a country where we do receive financial support.

That is a pity, because there is plenty of talent in Belgium. I am also working on a short film that will be part of a series of five short films aimed at promoting young, Belgian actors. The directors are already known: Géraldine Doigon, Ann Sirot & Raphaël Balboni, Pablo Munoz Gomez, Laura Petrone & Guillaume Kerbusch, and I.

So, you do not believe in ‘Belgian is the new cool’?

Of course I do believe in that! But it is a reality in the entire world, EXCEPT in Belgium. In fact, there is no ‘star system’ in French-speaking Belgium: a French-speaking Belgian actor must first be knighted in France, so to speak, before he will ever be recognized in Belgium. There exists some kind of Belgian anti-pride, for which we are being praised, but which strongly hinders us on a cultural level in general at the same time, not only on the level of film and cinema. Moreover, this humility greatly reduces our visibility. Many Belgian actors who are known and recognized in the field, are not known with the general public. For that reason, the sector wants to create TV shows, such as La Trêve and Ennemi public, that are supported by our public channels. That is also the reason why we founded the Margritte (film prize). This is clearly some sort of self-recognition which may seem troubling, even though it certainly exists in ALL other countries. The only country in the world in which the media spit on this recognition, is in Belgium. There is very little goodwill coming from our media towards what we are doing.

Was it easier for you to find funding for your projects since the release of Keeper in 2016?

No, not really. Making an art house film stays a challenge and will always remain difficult to finance. For everyone.

In your opinion, are the actors you work with sufficiently aware of their rights?

I think that there are many actors who do not exactly know what neighbouring rights are. Generally, I have the impression that education in Belgian schools is not good enough. Theatre is the focus during the formation of our future actors, but the latter are not sufficiently prepared for audio-visual professions. Together with Catherine Salée, actress and a friend of mine, we often give workshops for students and young professionals who just graduated. This is often an audience that has barely had the opportunity to act in front of a camera. Students have few classes during which they face a camera, and the same goes for dubbing lessons and courses that prepare them for the administrative burden of their future profession. They barely receive any information on what to do when they are unemployed, or about the statute of artists, their neighbouring rights, etc. These young actors often do not know how they come across on the screen, and as a result they are stressed when they stand in front of a camera. In short, young actors are only very little prepared for their profession as actors.

Whom are the workshops that you mentioned aimed at?

These are workshops organized by Brussels Cine Studio, led by Laura Petrone and Guillaume Kerbusch, and they are mainly intended for young actors, recent graduates, who have not yet created an image of themselves and not know how to perform in front of a camera. We also often see actors who are mainly active in theatre and feel somewhat upset when they are being filmed. The idea here is to “tame” the camera. In the spring of 2019, we will organise a new, innovative workshop with five directors and ten actors. During the previous workshops, Catherine and I realised that there is a great demand from young directors who also want to follow such courses and want to film. We will therefore propose a tripartite approach, in which two actors will work with a director for one day, and the trios will alternate every day. As such, we aim at creating an environment in which actors and directors meet and learn how to work together. In fact, directors frequently do not know how to deal with actors and they are often frightened, and vice versa. Besides experimenting with and in front of the camera, also the way of interacting is extremely important.

In an interview with the newspaper Le Soir you declare that you had to give up your statute as an artist in exchange for an independent statute. Why was that?

A few years ago, the government started a real witch hunt against the unemployed and, consequently, the artist statute. Since 2014, a royal decree regarding the cumulation of copyright and the artist statute is causing us a lot of trouble. Nowadays, many directors are obliged to become independent, as the RVA asks them to pay back their artist’s statute from the point when they receive too many copyrights. There is, however, a huge gap between the copyrights that directors collect, on the one hand, and what he should earn as a self-employed person on an annual basis, on the other. As a self-employed, a certain annual minimum is required in order to keep the head above water, but between this minimum and the limit imposed by the cumulation of rights, there is this no man’s land in which the vast majority of Belgian directors and artists are situated.

At this moment, almost all of us are obliged to become self-employed. And at some point, all these directors will have to make films to avoid bankruptcy, which is completely contrary to the entire essence of being an artist, namely making art because we feel the need and desire to create something. Nevertheless, we find ourselves now in a position that almost forces us to make films for the wrong reasons, that is, to survive. This means that we have to record a new feature film every two or three years. But who will finance these? The Centre du Cinéma of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation already has too many projects going on. Not to mention the danger of films that will increasingly be made according to the consensus and conventions to meet the commercial criteria. That is exactly how creativity and the art house cinema are being killed.

What is it that you do to fight against this?

I am a president of ARRF (Association of French-speaking Directors in Belgium), and one of the things we are working on at present is sensitising the political institutions to initiate changes. Nowadays, being an artist is a daily struggle. So, I fight my war.

What advice would you give the young generation of actors?

Persevere, and that also goes for directors. There are many people out there who want to do it, but only few are the chosen ones. It’s a pity I should say it, but it’s often not talent that counts, but determination. Those who succeed in acquiring fame are those who desire it the most, those who can take the punch and keep going, despite setbacks. We must, therefore, continue to believe in it. It is a profession in which we depend entirely on the desires of others, but actually, we must try and create these desires ourselves. If you are an actor and they do not give you a call, do something YOURSELF: start your own company, set up a spectacle, etc. If you are not the one being chosen for a film, write your own and create your own character. Didn’t you get that role in a theatre play? Make your own theatre piece! I understand that not everybody has the mindset to do this, but it is a recommendation that I would give. Work brings about work, and we must continue to believe, be determined and realise our dreams.

Distribution calendar: Overview of rights to be paid to artists in 2019

The 2019 distribution calendar is ready: six distributions of rights collected on the Belgian territory and abroad will be carried out in 2019, among which two final distributions:

  • February 2019: distribution of rights collected abroad,
  • May 2019: Final distribution for Music Rights 2015,
  • July 2019: Final distribution for audiovisual rights 2011-2012
  • August 2019: distribution of rights collected abroad,
  • October 2019: First distribution of audiovisual rights 2016,
  • November 2019: First distribution of music rights 2018.

PlayRight distribution calendar: Overview of rights to be paid to artists in 2019

DEADLINES

The 31/12/2019:

  • Audiovisual: declare your performances for the 2013 reference year,
  • Music: declare your performances for the 2016 reference year

FAQs

This is a provisional calendar and it is subject to change in the future. If this is the case, PlayRight will inform the affiliated artists.

10 steps to easily declare your recordings

Declaring your repertoire, the PlayRight Playlist, the online portal, it might sound quite complicated and unknown to many. It is, however, important to take a minute and register your recordings online, because they generate rights (and therefore money)! To make it easier for you, we briefly outline the ten steps that are important when declaring your repertoire:

1. Log in to your PlayRight Portal . Use your e-mail and password.

2. Choose the type of recording of your artistic work

  • Music: classical or non-classical recording
  • Audiovisual: (non-musical artistic performance as actor in an audiovisual recording)
  • Dubbing & postsynchronisation (voice recording, voice-over, etc.)
  • Music in audiovisual (artistic performance as a musician in an audiovisual recording)

3. Click on ‘Add declaration’

A form will be opened and you will be able to add all relevant information.

4. Save your declaration

Once the information is completed, click “save” to confirm your declaration. It will be added to your repertoire.

@Musicians: if you have to declare an entire album, you can complete the information in the form a first time and than click on “save and copy“: this option allows you to copy / paste the data of your previous declaration, no need to re-write them again. The only field you have to complete with this option is the title. Once all the titles have been introduced, click on “validate“.

5. Any participations to declare in your portal?

Do not forget to check your online portal to see whether there are any participations to declare. These are recordings that PlayRight has added to your repertoire, based upon research, and have not yet been declared by you. It is important that you indicate these contributions yourself, before the deadline.

6. Musicians: Use the PlayRight playlist to declare your music recordings.

To calculate your rights on Belgian territory, PlayRight relies on the playlists of the Belgian radio stations and the Ultratop sales lists. You can find these playlists in your PlayRight portal through the menu PlayList, which allows you to declare your recordings easily and fast!

7. Respect the deadlines!

Each year PlayRight sets a deadline to declare your repertoire. After declaring your recordings, we identify your performances on playlists in Belgium and abroad. This allows us to collect, process and distribute the rights that belong to you.

The next deadline is 31 December 2018 for:

  • music recordings broadcast, exploited and/or sold in 2015;
  • audiovisual recordings exploited and/or sold in 2011 and 2012.

8. No declaration = no rights.

For the final distributon that will take place next year, PlayRight only takes into account those declarations that have been filed before the deadline (31 December 2018). If you submit your recordings after that deadline, they will not generate any rights for the reference years in question that will be distributed next years.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that they will not generate any rights for the subsequent reference years that have not yet been closed. Therefore, it remains important that you declare your recordings at any time via the   PlayRight Portal.

9. Keep an eye on our distribution calendar.

Via the homepage of our website you can easily consult the distribution calendar per reference year. That way you know when distributions are being carried out, and you can indicate your repertoire in time.

10.  Contact your account manager for help. 

Do you still have any doubts or questions after reading this article? Don’t hesitate to contact your account manager. You can find his/her name as well as his/her contact details via the online portal.

Please note that the PlayRight offices will be closed from 21 December 2018 until 2 January 2019.

Offices closed on 1st and 2nd of November

Our offices are closed on the 1st and 2nd of November. The PlayRight team will be back on Monday.

PlayRight distributes 2.6 million € of neighbouring rights among musicians for 2017

PlayRight has carried out a first distribution for the neighbouring rights for music recordings concerning the reference year 2017. This distribution includes equitable remuneration, private copy and lending rights collected for music recordings that were broadcast and / or exploited in 2017.

Music 2017 – OUR PLAYLIST

Prior to this distribution, PlayRight creates a playlist based on the playlists of Belgian radios and the UltraTop sales lists for 2017.

As we strive to be as transparent and user-friendly as possible, affiliated musicians have direct access to the 2017 playlist through the Playlist menu in our online portal. With only a few clicks, musicians can declare their repertoire. However, your entire repertoire may not display in the PlayList menu. In this case, you can simply declare your performance via your repertoire menu.

Music 2017 – DECLARATIONS

Each distribution is based on the repertoires that have been declared by our musicians or their representatives. Those who have not yet declared or completed their repertoire can do so until 31 December 2020. After this date, declarations for the reference year 2017 will be closed, and a final distribution will be executed.

NOT AFFILIATED YET?

Are you a performing artist, but not yet affiliated with PlayRight? Are you not registered with any sister organization abroad? Register now for free!

Audiovisual works 2014-2015: PlayRight distributes 752.000€ of neighbouring rights

PlayRight has distributed more than 752.000 euros of rights for audiovisual recordings broadcast in Belgium in 2014 and 2015 in September 2018. An additional distribution was made in November 2018, bringing the total amount of this first distribution to 768.000 €. This is a first distribution, there is still time to declare your repertoire for these reference years.

This distribution is based on your declared repertoire as registered in our database. If you still have recordings to declare for this period, you have until the 31st of December 2020 to do so.

How were these rights distributed?

An amount of rights is allocated for each audiovisual work, according to its duration and audience rate. The overall amount allocated to the work is then distributed among the performers.

The presence of music in an audiovisual work also generates rights. For this distribution, a list of the television channels to be taken into consideration and the minimum audience rate to be reached by each audiovisual program in order to be taken into account, were fixed by the Board, in accordance with our general regulations.

Based on these parameters, the programs for which we have made a first distribution come from the following TV channels:

In order to guarantee a retroactivity of 3 years (from the date of the first payment), PlayRight has created a virtual casting system for each work that is broadcast. This allows us to freeze the rights of potential artists who have not yet declared their performances.

For this first distribution, PlayRight focused on the calculation of rights in audiovisual recordings for:

  • fictions,
  • cartoons ,
  • and purely or mainly music performances (musical shows, concert recordings, opera, musical theater, musical comedy, …)

All rights for these three categories, however, have not been fully allocated. At the time of the last distribution, PlayRight will distribute the remaining rights for these categories as well as audiovisual artistic performances in other programs.

Unlike musical works, only two remunerations are at the origin of your rights as an actor and / or as a musician whose musical performances are used in audiovisual works:

The distributions that PlayRight has just realised come from the private copying and lending rights. The total amount for this distribution is 752.000€, the remaining rights will be closed and distributed to the artists in 2021.

If you have specific questions about this distribution, do not hesitate to contact your Account Manager (his details appear in the left pane, once connected to your online portal).

Next distribution: music rights for the reference year 2017.

A neighbouring right for streaming?

On Monday 10th of September, the European Parliament will resume its activities. One of the points on its agenda during the first week is the much-debated Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. What can be expected?

Before a directive can be considered as European law, it needs the approval of all the European institutions: the Commission, the Council and the Parliament. Only when all three have taken a clear stand the so-called ‘trilogues’ can be initiated. The proposal itself came from the Commission, therefore we have known their position since September 2016. The Council has come to an agreement at the end of May 2018. Which only left the Parliament.

Within the Parliament the proposal was discussed in several ‘working groups’, each with their particular specialisation. It was the committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) that presented a compromise proposal to the plenary Parliament, asking for approval to start negotiations with the Council and the Commission.

This approval, however, was denied. The German Axel Voss, responsible for the preparation of the compromise proposal, did not obtain a majority from the Parliament and was sent into summer recess with some serious homework.

The Parliament mostly rejected the compromise proposal because they feared it would limit freedom on the internet, a concern instilled in many members of Parliament by the lobby of several tech giants. However, the compromise went far beyond that and also contains several articles impacting directly performers (both musicians and actors) and more specifically their position within the ever expanding online market of video-on-demand and music streaming. In this respect, the compromise was an improvement on the Commission’s proposal. Even if it did not guarantee the level of protection we hoped for as yet, it makes a fine base for a better protection on the internet and was as such supported by PlayRight, its sister collecting societies within in Europe, as well as the European federations and guilds of musicians and actors. Even if they do not guarantee the level of protection we hoped for as yet, they make a fine base for a better protection on the internet.

During the summer, Axel Voss has continued his work on a compromise text, which he submitted to the Parliament on the 5th of September. Together with our European partners we managed to avoid that further adjustments to the articles that directly concern the future of our musicians and actors. Tomorrow the Parliament will get a second chance to approve this compromise and we hope – together with all of you – that it will take that chance.

JOHAN HOOGEWIJS, SCREEN COMPOSER & MUSICIAN ON DEMAND

The term ‘performing artists’ is a very large umbrella, it does not stop at session musicians or  screen actors. Who are the members of PlayRight? Johan Hoogewijs is as a screen composer. His assignments allow him to alternate all kinds of projects and as he often records his compositions himself he is entitled to neighbouring rights. How did this come about?

Most of my works are film and TV assignments, theatre and dance not as much. After six or seven years of making jingles for radio icon Jan Hautekiet at Studio Brussel, I started composing for fiction series, such as Langs de kade, Niet voor publicatie, Heterdaad… In the Netherlands I was worked on a number of series, but also on seven films, such as Bloedbroeders (Blood Brothers) by Arno Dierickx (2008) and Het leven uit een dag by Mark De Cloe (2008). The tax shelter introduced me to a number of foreign productions, such as Heute bin ich blond (The Girl with Nine Wigs) by Marc Rothemund in Germany (2013) and recently Le collier rouge (The Red Collar) by Jean Becker in France (2018).

What does a screen composer and musician do?

Anyone can ask for my services. I hardly ever compose without a specific purpose in mind, I like to sail where my assignments take me. The result can vary tremendously, from piano or synthesizer to more classical repertoire. I am not marked by a clear signature, like Wim Mertens for instance, but that‘s to my advantage: I can handle all kinds of palettes. The result is always new music, created in consultation with the director and the producer.

How do directors find you?

A director does not always get to choose his team himself. Often, they put up a fight with the producer for a cameraman or an editor, but as far as the likes of composers or set builders go…

In that respect the tax shelter is both a curse and a blessing. Sometimes a co-production is left with some budget, but specifically for people of a certain nationality.  This can either work for you or against you. There are even specialized firms these days, whose only job it is to collect tax shelter funding. Then they go on the lookout for composers, through studios or the recently founded Belgian Screen Composers Guild.

Competitions are common place as well these days. There are houses who will pay you a small amount for a demo, but often this means working without any guarantee of getting paid. If you compete with a hundred other people for new children’s television song you can hardly expect that everyone will get paid. But meanwhile this means investing time on your side, whereas bidders get to reduce the risk of not finding a song they like to almost nothing.

When did you first hear about neighbouring rights as a possible source of income?

Somewhere in the mid-nineties Microcam suggested I become a member. Later this organization merged with Uradex, which was then transformed into PlayRight. Toots Thielemans had already told me he got money every now and again off commercials he had once recorded in Sweden. So I was already aware I could claim neighbouring rights, since I recorded my own music.

For quite some years now PlayRight has handled my files. Compared to music the audio-visual sector always drops somewhat behind and not all countries collect for both. As I gather collecting reliable information is more complex as well. But I know you are working on that and the people at PlayRight make a tremendous effort. Better yet, I can see it as the amounts I am paid rise every year.

There is a genuinely personalised approach. That is why I try to motivate others to join as well. I can’t stand those musicians who scoff at ‘another five euro from PlayRight’. PlayRight and SABAM could have come a lot further by now if their artists where really behind them.

Can you live off your music?

I have been very lucky. The jobs I have done have always come to me with little effort on my side. The phone has just kept ringing at the right moments. I thoroughly enjoyed doing Witse and at the same time it was really successful as a series, with quite some reruns. This financial security has allowed me to take on less obvious projects as well. In this way I have been living off nothing but my music, for thirty years now.

Things come less easy to the new generation. This holds for session musicians and song writers as well. What they get online from Spotify and the likes is peanuts, when compared to what artists used to make.

Do streaming services have an impact on your life in any way?

You have to go through production companies to get to them. You need a network for that, contacts in the right places and preferably representation. Someone at Milan Records, a renowned film music record label, is checking out new opportunities for me on the French market after Le collier rouge.

None of my existing series have been picked up by streaming services either. Of course most of them were VRT productions. They never put much effort into selling their series elsewhere. These days series like Tabula Rasa are made outside the TV network, by external production companies. That’s a different story.

What project would you like to add to your track record someday?

My own ambitions are not so high that I dream of ending up in Hollywood. Nor would that system become me. But I’m always in for a good art-house film, or a well-made Scandinavian series. Or a grand costume piece, in which I can go quite large. With music that matters, and a theme that has a career apart from the film. That would be something. An old idea of mine for a live project, with four jazz musicians and images by Hans Op de Beeck, has just popped back up as well.