Better technology, better rights!

December 3 2018

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?

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.

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