French Prime Minister and high-profile officials join CISAC Vice President Ousmane Sow to defend creator's rights


CISAC Vice President and Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow joined high-profile officials in Cannes yesterday, defending authors' rights for a fairer creative future.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion at the conference in southeastern France, amid the prestigious annual Cannes Film Festival, Mr Sow said creators are now facing their biggest challenge in a century: fighting for fair rights and remuneration in the digital world.

The conference titled 'The Future of Authors Rights in Europe: Culture and the Single Digital Market' attracted notable government officials, including French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and French Minister for Culture and Communication Fleur Pellerin, who each gave an address expressing the importance of the protection of authors rights.

"Culture and artists need to be at the heart of the European project," Mr Valls tweeted at the conference, in French.

Mr Sow stressed the importance of the Visual Artists' Resale Right, also known as the 'Droit de Suite,' which guarantees every living artists or their descendants a fair share for the resale of their works. 

“The artist's resale right is a simple law: if one of my works is resold as part of a sale involving a professional of the art market (auction house, art gallery), this gives me the right to remuneration, which is a (small) percentage of the sale amount, “ Mr Sow said, in French.

“We, the creators, we need the Resale Right now, not only in Europe but around the world,” Mr Sow said.

“We, the creators, are at the origin of an entire economy around our works, and it would still be wrong, unfair, that we do not reap the rewards”. 

A Directive of the European Union passed in 2001 required all EU countries to implement the resale right.

However, due to the reciprocal nature of the right in the Berne Convention, it has not been implemented in some countries, including the United States and China.

Mr Sow comments were echoed by fellow panelists, who joined to discuss the issues of digital services and cultural diversity in Europe. Some of the key issues explored centered on copyright in the digital age, including ways Europe can build on its cultural assets in the digital era, as well as the importance of copyright for cultural diversity.

The panel included European Parliament Culture and Education Committee Chairwoman and MEP Silvia Costa, director and producer Dariusz Jablonski, composer Max Richter, director Lynne Ramsay, writer Douglas Kennedy, FFA CEO and EFAD Chairman Peter Dinges, and Arte France President Véronique Cayla.

A speech by European Commissioner for Economic and Digital Companies Günther Oettinger followed discussions.

A second roundtable discussion was also held and explored ways to improve access and circulation of works in Europe. Some of the key issues discussed included what role could the European Union could play to modernize licensing and solutions to allow access to online works, to all audiences, while securing the remuneration of creators.

Read more about the Visual Artists' Resale Right here.