More Money for Creators and More Support for Copyright in Society—Fair Remuneration Rights in Germany and the Netherlands

Senftlebenm, Martin

The current copyright system is intended to provide an incentive for authors to invest more time and effort in the creation of literary and artistic works (utilitarian argument), recognize the acquisition of a property right as a result of creative labour (natural law argument) and enhance authors’ freedom of expression by offering a source of income that is independent of patronage and sponsorship (free expression argument). These arguments may be combined with considerations of industry policy, such as the growth of the creative and telecommunication industries, and the creation of jobs in these industries. The basis of all these lines of reasoning, however, is the individual creator. Without the constant efforts of creators, there would be no new literature and art to fuel the publication and dissemination machinery of the industry. A focus on the income situation of the individual creator also ensures the acceptance of copyright law in society. It adds social legitimacy. Who would be against remunerating authors for the time and effort spent on the creation of a new work?

There is thus substantial reason to explore legislative measures seeking to ensure that copyright law generates not only a sufficient return on investment for the creative industries but also a decent income for individual creators. With specific copyright contract rules that guarantee a right to fair remuneration, the legislation in Germany and the Netherlands is particularly advanced in this respect. Hence, the question arises: what lessons can be learned from German and Dutch experiences? After a short introduction that refers to recent E.U. initiatives in this area, the following analysis will show that the issue of a fair remuneration for creators has a worldwide dimension. In light of the rationales of copyright protection in continental-European and Anglo-American copyright systems, it becomes clear that the high level of protection that has been reached in both legal traditions and at the international level only appears legitimate if individual creators receive an adequate remuneration for their work. Fair remuneration is a universal, worldwide concern (Section I). Against this background, the analysis sheds light on the practical effects of the legislation in Germany and the Netherlands (Section II) and leads to general guidelines for the improvement of the income situation of creators (Section III).


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Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts

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November 12, 2018