European Parliament moves to ban buy-out contracts
12 July 2012
The European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education has decided to propose a ban on buy-out contracts. The decision is the result of a vote on a report on the online distribution of audiovisual works in the European Union drafted by French Euro-MP Jean Marie Cavada.
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the largest organisation of journalists in Europe, has welcomed the decision. Arne König, president of the EFJ, said:
"This report is a signal that talks over authors' rights in the EU can no longer ignore the need to protect authors. Authors' rights must be reinforced if the EU wants to sustain its creative works and support those behind it.
"Freedom of contract cannot be the rule when it is obvious that parties do not negotiate on an equal footing. This is the case for freelance journalists, for instance."
The committee's report backs a series of provisions supporting authors, including the concept of an unwaivable right to remuneration for all forms of exploitation of their works. It also calls on EU Member States to ban buy-out contracts.
These contracts, widely used in the media industry, allow for journalists' authors' rights to be assigned to audiovisual producers with no possibility to negotiate further use of their work in other media or on different formats.
The EFJ has launched a campaign on fair trade for creators to denounce unfair contractual practices in the creative sector.
The report will now be put for the full endorsement of the European Parliament at a plenary sitting in September. While the report itself will not introduce new legislation, it will add to the pressure on the European Commission to act to protect the intellectual property rights of journalists and other authors.