OPEN LETTER TO THE MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN
FREE ACCESS TO WORKS IS NOT ACCESS FOR FREE
Whereas the proposal for a directive on "the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the Information Society" is in the process of being adopted by the European Parliament, the undersigned organisations, representing authors, performers, books publishers and music publishers and producers of audiovisual and cinematographic works, are very worried about the orientation put forward on 23 September by the Commission for the Environment and Consumer Protection.
In essence, this vote calls seriously into question the "acquis communautaire", international law and the fundamental principles of the protection of copyright and related rights .
In sanctioning the practice of "fair use", a specific concept which is totally unsuited to our continental legal systems, the Commission for Consumer Protection destroys the necessary balance between the interests of citizens and those of the partners in literary and artistic creation. Under the cover of free access to cultural goods and services, the opinion put forward deprives authors, performers, publishers and producers of the possibility of benefiting from the remunerations from the various means of exploitation, which are the fair counterpart of creation. And that is without taking into account the fact that certain users wish to take advantage of the new technology to acquire rights or freedoms that they never previously had. In the long run, it is the citizens themselves who will suffer, since creation will become poorer at the same time as the creators.
It is strange to admit that the distributors, services providers and other libraries will be able to derive profit from the use of works by expropriating those who are its source. Nevertheless, while less than 10% of authors in Europe have an income that is above the average minimum wage, the Commission for Consumer Protection is giving a signal the result of which will be that these revenues will be reduced even more. The undersigned organisations are worried that such a concept could prevail in the European Parliament, whereas Europe, at an international level, should be leading an offensive that is both economic and cultural.
Furthermore, it is a spurious debate to set the public interest against that of authors and other partners in creation when one knows that copyright can be applied in the most equitable manner by means of freely negotiated contractual agreements. It is necessary to put a term to the unacceptable confusion between free access to works, that authors, performers, publishers and producers support, and access for free, which results in the expropriation of rightholders, as it deprives them of the remuneration which is their due.
The undersigned organisations are launching an appeal to European Members of Parliament so that, in future voting, they take a stance that is in line with the resolution that they themselves, adopted in October 1997 concerning the follow up of the Green Paper on copyright and related rights in the Information Society.
Brussels, 1 October 1998
AEPO : Association des Organisations Européennes des Artistes-interprètes
AIDAA : Association Internationale des Auteurs de l'Audiovisuel
ARTIS GEIE : Groupement Européen représentant les Organismes de Gestion Collective des Droits des Artistes-Interprètes ou Exécutants
CICCE : Comité des Industries Cinématographiques des Communautés Européennes
ICMP/CIEM : International Confederation of Music Publishers / Confédération Internationale des Editeurs de Musique
EUROCINEMA : Association de Producteurs
EVA : European Visual Artists
EWC : European Writers Congress
FEP : Federation of European Publishers
FERA : Fédération Européenne des Réalisateurs de l'Audiovisuel
FIA : Fédération Internationale des Acteurs
FIJ : Fédération Internationale des Journalistes
FIM : Fédération Internationale des Musiciens
GESAC : Groupement Européen des Sociétés d'Auteurs et Compositeurs