Meeting of the EuroFIA Group, Ljubljana, Slovenia June 2024

EuroFIA Event Reports Actualités

The annual in-person meeting of the EuroFIA Group took place in June 2024 in the beautiful and historic setting of central Ljubljana, hosted by three of our Slovenian affiliates: SAGS, ZDUS and SVIZ. Slovenian Collective Management Organisation AIPA also extended a warm welcome to the group and hosted the annual meeting of the EuroFIA Group with the European Collective Management Organisations in the Audiovisual sector. This meeting was co-organised by Aepo Artis. The meetings were very well attended, with delegates from over 30 countries in attendance.

Day 1 brought the CMOs and member unions of the EuroFIA group together for a series of panel discussions touching on shared concerns and priorities. The opening panel, comparing the outcomes of the varying approaches to transposition of the Digital Single Market directive, brought together experience from different EU countries, namely Slovenia, Spain, Poland and Belgium. While these experiences tended to show the real potential of the directive as a driver for a fairer framework, they have not been reproduced across all EU countries. A positive impact for performers in terms of more meaningful return from their IP rights and the use of their work has unfortunately not materialised in all countries, meaning that this discussion remains an active and important one. The current Commission study on contractual conditions of authors and performers will certainly drive this discussion forward as the new Parliament and Commission begin their mandates.

Naturally the question of generative AI and its impact on performers and the creative ecosystem more generally, was a key topic of the meeting. A first panel focused the potential for collective bargaining to set terms and conditions on the use of AI in the industry, building on the vital principle of informed consent. It also touched on some of the emerging legislative measures to tackle the specific issue of deepfakes, which obviously have a particular resonance for performers. The second panel turned to the issues arising from the problematic framework created by  the AI Act, due to its specific reference to generative AI falling under the Text and Data Mining Exception set out in article 4 of the Digital Single Market directive (through its reference to the need to recognise and respect opt-outs). This is a major issue – FIA takes exception to this approach which is too broad and provides for no compensation: only a theoretical possibility to protect rights. Discussions explored the national steps taken to ‘opt-out’ and the many problems thrown up by this unworkable mechanism. In the case of performers, they generally do not hold the rights that would need to reserved, especially where the basis is the right of reproduction, as this is clearly bundled with the producer. Furthermore, the burden of proof lies with the rightsholders, many of whom are quite unable to even contemplate such a vast task. Unions and CMOs will have to continue to forcefully make these arguments to protect performers as the use of generative AI continues to expand.

Days 2 and 3 of the meeting in Ljubljana were dedicated to a meeting of the EuroFIA group unions. The meeting opened with words of welcome from the host unions and then an address from FIA President Gabrielle Carteris, who joined the EuroFIA meetings on his occasion. The group was also happy to welcome Ms Kim Komljanec, advisor to the Slovenian Minister for Culture who welcomed the EuroFIA group to Ljubljana. She detailed the work underway in Slovenia to address the employment issues facing freelance workers in the cultural sector and planned legislation to ensure their rights.  The secretariat was pleased to able to report to the group on recent policy developments at European level and to share the work done in the framework of the European social dialogue and the many excellent European projects that arise from it. There were also updates from the various FIA working groups globally and information on upcoming FIA activities, including the Executive Committee later this year and the 2025 World Congress in Birmingham UK. Equity UK was also elected to take over the role of EuroFIA coordinator, as the Ljubljana meeting brought to close the coordination by AUT and SFA who jointly held this role over the past two years.

There were also three very rich discussion panels in the course of the EuroFIA meeting, which constituted both an informative exchange of opinion and experience, as well as an opportunity to ask questions. The first of these panels was on the topic of Intimacy Coordination. The panellists examined the context in which this practice has developed, as well as the role unions have played in advocating for it, addressing it in collective bargaining and ensuring a robust training and credential system are central to its expansion. The second discussion panel looked at the progress made on advancing collective bargaining for self-employed members and looked at union experience in the wake of the 2022 Commission Guidelines which removed the competition law obstacle to such bargaining. The panel took stock of what has been achieved in Slovenia and in the Netherlands to date, as well as the context that has facilitated such bargaining in the UK and the reflection underway in Denmark. This topic is a key one in the Atypical Work projects, led by FIA and involving FIM, UNI MEI and EFJ. Peer learning on such bargaining is one of the key aims of the project and a series of events will take place over the coming two years. The final discussion panel of the meeting was on the topic of the status of the artist and the group heard from affiliates in Spain, Ireland and Belgium on the far-reaching and impactful measures put in place in those countries since the Covid crisis in order to improve the living and working conditions of artists and cultural workers.

The next meeting of the EuroFIA group will be online towards the end of 2024. We hope that 2025 will bring two opportunities for the group to meet in person: firstly in the Spring, including the annual meeting with the CMOs and secondly in the run up to the FIA World Congress in Birmingham, in the Autmn of 2025.

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