ALCS gives evidence at government committee on creator remuneration

Yesterday, ALCS Deputy CEO Richard Combes gave evidence at the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee on creator remuneration.

The Committee Chair, Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, asked for evidence to examine working practices in the creative industries, including the precariousness nature of creators’ work and the sustained fall in their incomes. We recommended measures to support authors including a Freelancer Commissioner and Smart Fund, issues we have long campaigned for.

ALCS were joined by representatives from three other collective management organisations, British Equity Collecting Society (BECS), the Design & Artist Copyright Society (DACS) and Directors UK.

The committee heard that creators’ incomes have been consistently falling for a number of years, risking a loss of talent and diversity in the sector. This is in part caused by technological advances and the shift away from traditional platforms and towards digital platforms, which often don’t provide adequate measures for rewarding creators.

The committee also heard that just under a half of creatives are freelancers, and as such, face unique challenges relating to their working conditions, pay and rights that are failing to be addressed.

The development of AI was also raised as a significant risk to creators’ livelihoods, due to the potential for copyright infringement on a massive scale. It was emphasised technological innovation and fair treatment of creatives doesn’t need to be a zero sum game and that it is possible to both. It was also stressed that effective regulation in this area will require international coordination.

ALCS, along with our partner organisations, made the following recommendations to the committee to better support and remunerate creators:

The appointment of a Freelancer Commissioner to government, a measure that we have campaigned for since May. The Freelancer Commissioner would represent all UK freelancers, act as an intermediary between industry and government, and provide a stronger knowledge base for more effective policy.

Establishing the Smart Fund, a private copying scheme, that will pay creators when their work is accessed, stored or distributed on digital devices, by including a small charge on the sale of those devices. Such schemes are already common throughout the world – operating in 45 countries – and provide much need supplementary income for authors and other creators.

We also urged against introducing further copyright exceptions for text and data mining, and other commercial uses of AI, that would lead to technology companies exploiting authors’ works without permission or remuneration. Such a move was proposed in 2022 and later withdrawn due to heavy criticism from ALCS and our partner organisations.

Reema Selhi, Head of Policy, DACS said: “Leave copyright exceptions alone. Meddling with this policy leaves the door open for Big Tech companies to push for deregulation. We need to look at what other countries are doing and how they are pushing for creator remuneration.”

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You can also find out more about our call for a Freelance Commissioner in the below video: