Authors’ Organisations Joint Statement on COVID-19 Crisis

    As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages our societies, including the cultural and creative sectors, authors’ organizations stand in solidarity with all those affected by the virus and we support measures taken to contain it.

    Our members – writers of all kinds, composers, songwriters, directors and
    cinematographers – have seen their industries come to a standstill and their livelihoods
    vanish in a matter of days. We urge decision-makers to include specific measures to help
    self-employed and freelance authors as they devise emergency measures in support of the
    Cultural and Creative industries heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
    As governments and public agencies are starting to announce much-needed support measures
    for businesses at risk, we urge decision-makers to avoid creating a worrying inequality
    between the employed and self-employed workers and freelance community.
    Authors are not businesses nor employees and already face precarious working conditions
    and unstable income. They work, whichever sector they are in, from contract to contract, and
    those contracts are now being suspended or cancelled. We also believe that few working
    professional artists / authors have any resources – savings, investments, pensions – that they
    can rely on in difficult times.

    As such, several essential issues need to be considered in devising specific support to help
    mitigate the impact of the ongoing crisis on the creative community:
    - Loss of work (postponed/cancelled ongoing work, or work that was due to start).
    - Limited ability to work due to illness, self-isolation or caring responsibilities (children,
    vulnerable persons).
    - Limited ability to work due to specificities of the craft (e.g. access to required equipment,
    crew, ability to travel).
    - Financial impact of work loss e.g. uncertainty on ongoing contracts’ payments, reduced
    rates, compensation for contract termination, insurance.
    - Managing living costs (rent, utilities, mortgage, loans, etc).
    - Freelance authors’ access to unemployment schemes or welfare benefits aimed at people
    without any income who do not have rights to unemployment benefits.
    - Securing future work, including alternative employment in or outside the sector.

    As a result, emergency measures should include:
    Ø Immediate access to full sick pay including isolation periods for freelance workers,
    Ø Possibility for authors to be covered by public health insurance during the crisis and the
    Ø Adjustment of unemployment schemes where available to ensure continued access,
    Ø Immediate access to guaranteed basic income such as welfare benefits aimed at people
    without any income who do not have rights to unemployment benefits,
    Ø Options for replacement income for the crisis period,
    Ø Deferment/support for living costs (e.g. rent, mortgage, loans),
    Ø Tax relief.

    We call on the European institutions and all public authorities across Europe to ensure that
    such measures aimed at supporting freelancers, including authors, are encouraged and
    financially supported, with temporary amendments or exceptions of existing rules where
    necessary. We also encourage the EU to swiftly assess the devastating impact of this crisis on
    authors and provide recommendations to overcome their specific challenges.
    As the current situation will also severely impact authors’ royalties payments, we welcome
    the announcements of emergency social funds from collective management organisations
    (CMOs) and encourage the use of non-distributable funds, private copying levies or cultural
    deductions to support authors during this unprecedented crisis.
    While use of our work diminishes in public spaces it increases dramatically online. Arts and
    entertainment, the result of our work as creators, turns out to have a hugely important role
    in helping society to manage in times of crisis.
    In this context, sustained royalties’ payment will play a key stabilizing role for European
    authors’ income: it has never been more necessary for authors to share in the economic
    success of their works and therefore to implement the principle of appropriate and
    proportionate remuneration a mandatory rule preventing the widespread malpractice of buyout
    contracts in Europe.
    Last but not least, we encourage all EU institutions to ensure that emergency funds provided
    by the EU are available to authors and to finally agree on a future EU budget (Multiannual
    financial framework 2021-2027) that can match Europe’s cultural needs and ambitions.
    As we stand in solidarity with those directly affected by the virus and on the frontlines, this
    unprecedented global crisis puts us all, individually and collectively, to the test. With fit-forpurpose
    support from EU and national authorities, we want to believe in the ability of our
    sectors to recover from this unprecedented crisis. As authors, our desire to create vibrant and
    diverse works for audiences across Europe and beyond will certainly drive us to find the
    necessary means to do so.

    The European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) represents over 30,000 professional
    composers and songwriters in 27 European countries. With over 60-member organizations
    across Europe, the Alliance speaks for the interests of music creators of art & classical music
    (contemporary), film & audiovisual music, as well as popular music. composeralliance.org/
    EWC, founded in 1977 in Germany and newly constituted in 2006 in Brussels as an
    international non-profit organisation, the European Writers’ Council is the federation of 45
    European national organisations of professional writers and literary translators in all genres in
    34 countries. EWC’s members represent more than 160,000 authors in the book sector.
    The Federation of European Film Directors (FERA), founded in 1980, represents film and TV
    directors at European level, with 47 directors’ associations as members from 35 countries. We
    speak for more than 20,000 European screen directors, representing their cultural, creative
    and economic interests. www.filmdirectors.eu/
    The Federation of Screenwriters Europe (FSE) is a network of national and regional
    associations, guilds and unions of writers for the screen in Europe, created in June 2001. It
    comprises 25 organisations from 19 countries, representing more than 7,000 screenwriters in
    Europe. federationscreenwriters.eu/
    IMAGO is a global umbrella Federation for cinematographers supporting our members and
    their art through affiliation, participation and advocacy. www.imago.org