Study: Contractual Arrangements Applicable to Creators

3 MARCH 2014

The Legal Committee of the European Parliament commissioned the study and placed authors at the very core of the research. The study looks at the provisions of national copyright and contract law that affects the bargaining power and the contracts that creators enter into to exploit their rights in the EU.

Contractual arrangements applicable to creators: law and practice of selected member statesThe study takes stock of existing practices and pays special attention to those provisions considered as unfair for the authors. To name but a few: all-encompassing contracts, excessive buy-outs, waiving of remuneration rights (even if this is forbidden by national laws), etc. “For the last 10 years, we have been talking about copyright in the European Parliament. This is the first time a study has put the finger on the pulse of copyright”. This was the first reaction of parliament member Eva Lichtenberg (Greens/EFA, AT) on the study that KEA and CRIDs presented on 10 February 2014.

After reviewing in detail the legal framework of eight European Member States and confirming that there are considerable discrepancies between countries, the study provides a set of recommendations including:

  • certain formalities (e.g. contracts in written form)
  • an obligation to exploit the rights for the transferee
  • a black list of terms that cannot be employed in contracts
  • monitoring and reporting obligations for the transferee,
  • introduction of a general principle of adequate remuneration in national copyright laws
  • the unwaivability of remuneration rights (e.g. the fair compensation for private copies) or the introduction of a right to remuneration for certain kinds of digital exploitation.

New contexts
The study also acknowledges that copyright contracts are established in an ever evolving and uncertain environment and that traditional clauses may not always fit in a new context. Possible means to introduce more flexibility without putting creators’ position at risk were highlighted such as provisions ensuring the validity of transfer rights for unknown forms of exploitation upon fair remuneration to author, limitations to the length of contracts or reversion rights.

Copyright contracts are at the very core of the copyright law, yet there is no European harmonisation of a number of important provisions to protect and the rights of authors, although some isolated provisions exist. The review process just initiated by the European Commission represents a good opportunity to take contractual protection of authors into account and to ensure a level playing field in the market of creative works.

The full study can be downloaded down below:
Contractual arrangements applicable to creators: law and practice of selected member states (pdf)