Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Creators' Rights Alliance


  Frequently government appears to be only interested in citizens as consumers. Creators are also citizens and in order to promote high quality diverse services, the relationship between there communication entity (broadcaster, website, ISP, or publisher) and the creator needs some form of mechanism to enable dialogue between the two parties. OFCOM needs a role in preventing the continuous erosion of the rights of the creative community. This must include not only economic rights of the creator but also a realistic framework for creators moral rights.


  The BBC is the keystone of current Public Service Broadcasting and the whilst and the needs of the consumer and citizen should be central to Public Service Broadcasting policy, the needs and rights of the creator need to be factored a into this equation. It is wholly untenable that a publicly funded organisation should ever behave in a fashion that can systematically undermine the value of its contributors. Whilst it is to be expected that the BBC should make every effort to augment its income outside the licence fee by the secondary exploitation of its products, it is wholly unacceptable that a significant element of this income should come from the pockets of contributors of content to BBC programming who are forced to sign all or a proportion of their rights away in order to work for the BBC at all. This argument also hold true for the commercial sector of the broadcast industry who flourish through a their licences to broadcast to the UK public and who also seek to raise their revenues not purely through the successful economic exploitation of their wares, but also by forcing contributors to have to pay what is virtually a back hander in order to work at all.


  Whilst we recognise that it can be important for a company to achieve an adequate size in today's communications environment, we are deeply concerned that adequate regulatory powers should be in place to safeguard both the quality and a diversity of the services to be provided.

  We are also certain that alliances between large media companies create unfair pressures which end up bearing down on their individual contributor who can be forced into an unfair contracting process because of an agreement with a third party. A particularly good example of this is where both of the BBC and at the ITV companies have deals with large multinational music publishers which force composers not only to have to sign away a proportion of their rights but moreover to do so on the basis of singularly unadvantageous contracts which are created by the large multinationals for their own benefit and which do not fit into any norm of a fair contract in any other sector of the music industry.


  Intellectual property rights are not solely an economic resource, but also a mainstay in protecting individual rights and freedoms. The current relationship between creators and the communications industries has grown organically over the last half of the 20th century. Recently however these relationships have been put under increasing duress as moves have been made to undermine and remove the rights of the creative community in order for the broadcaster or publisher to have unfettered control of any work they commission. There are serious implications for the UK if this trend is allowed to gather pace. Firstly there is a danger of the disappearance of a thriving freelance pool of contributors of excellence as their economic well-being is undermined by being paid lower and lower fees and also having no royalty or residual income as companies attempt to seize all rights in their contracting processes. This will inevitably lead to a point where the UK is no longer known as a producer of quality in the television field and where increasingly broadcasting will be dominated by non UK produced programming which will be both damaging to the UK economy and also lead to reduction in quality and diversity for the UK consumer.

  Equally it is important that "moral rights" are bolstered to protect this quality and diversity so that creators works are not altered or repackaged in endless differing formats where the creator has lost the right to prevent their brainchild being used in a way that was never intended in the first place.

6 December 2001

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