We are campaigning for a review of laws applicable to creator contracts and introduction of legislation to address unfair contract terms.
As legally binding agreements, contracts represent a valuable tool for authors, allowing them to legally assign copyright licences and to negotiate and defend their rights. But over recent years terms have significantly worsened.
Authors tend to work alone and have to negotiate with multinationals, monopolies or dominant players in highly specialised markets. Individual creators are therefore at an inherent disadvantage when negotiating the terms of their contracts. Many contracts are offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.
As well as supporting members through clause-by-clause vetting of any contract, the SoA is campaigning to address the imbalance of the situation through negotiations with publishers and by pushing for legislation along with other creator organisations.
What are we asking for?
Our aims to improve contracts are summarised in the C.R.E.A.T.O.R. acronym:
C - Clearer contracts, including written contracts which set out the exact scope of the rights granted.
R - fair Remuneration. Equitable and unwaivable remuneration for all forms of exploitation, to include bestseller clauses so if a work does far better than expected the creator shares in its success, even if copyright was assigned.
E - an obligation of Exploitation for each mode of exploitation. Also known as the ‘use it or lose it’ clause. This is the French model.
A - fair, understandable and proper Accounting terms.
T - Term. Reasonable and limited contract terms and regular reviews to take into account new forms of exploitation.
O - Ownership. Authors, including illustrators and translators, should be appropriately credited for all uses of their work and moral rights should be unwaivable.
R - All other clauses be subject to a general test of Reasonableness including a list of defined clauses which are automatically deemed to be void and a general safeguarding provision that
any contract provision which, contrary to the requirement of good faith, causes a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations arising under the contract to the detriment of the author, shall be regarded as unfair.
One example would be Indemnity clauses which put all the risk on the author.
These laws are not radical. They already exist throughout many European countries. These changes are easy and timely and we urge that they should be effected.
What are we doing?
The SoA launched the C.R.E.A.T.O.R campaign at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group on 7 July 2015.
The Creators' Rights Alliance have adopted our campaign and we are working in tandem with partner organisations who represent the interests of other creators.
We are meeting with the Publishers Association, the Independent Publishers Guild and many individual publishers to discuss their contract terms.
We are lobbying key individuals in Government and pushing the issue on the agenda.