Published on: 31 January 2018 in Directors UK

The future of your rights: ECL information

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Directors UK is applying to the government to operate an Extended Collective Licensing – or ECL – scheme. We want to do this in order to better manage and protect directors’ rights and royalties in our changing digital world, and to protect and serve all UK-based directors and their rights – regardless of whether or not they’re already a member of Directors UK.

To go ahead with our application we need our members to take part in a very important poll indicating whether they support our application. If youre a member and youd like to find out more about this, visit our dedicated page.

We’ve prepared some frequently asked questions to explain exactly what an ECL is, why we think Directors UK needs to operate one, and how the ECL scheme will affect directors and their rights. If you’d like to find out more about our application, please read on and use the links below to navigate to the different sections of this page. If you’re a Directors UK member and you’d like to vote, please click here.


What is Extended Collective Licensing (ECL)?

Extended Collective Licensing (ECL) authorises a qualifying licensing body (such as Directors UK) to licence users of copyrighted works not just on behalf of member right holders, but also on behalf of non-member right holders who they do not directly represent but who are also affected by the scheme. This means that the rights of non-members are assumed to be a part of the scheme unless they have specifically opted out.

In our case that would mean that Directors UK could licence others such as broadcasters, platforms and producers to make use of a television or film work, whether or not the director is a registered member of Directors UK.

ECL has been used very successfully in Nordic countries, such as Sweden and Finland, for about 50 years and is recognised in European law.

In 2011 the Hargreaves report, Digital Opportunity: A Review of IP and Growth, recommended that the ECL model be adopted in the UK too. The government agreed and in 2014 introduced The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Extended Collective Licensing) Regulations which now enables Collective Management Organisations like Directors UK to operate an ECL in the UK.

Why are we proposing to operate an ECL scheme?

The royalties directors currently receive through the Directors UK Rights Agreement are for the secondary uses of their work, e.g. repeats on the same channel or on other channels, programme sales and DVD sales.

At the moment directors sign their rights to the broadcaster or production company so that they can exploit a directors work. Rather than having to negotiate with each broadcaster or production company directly for royalty payments, Directors UK has negotiated a Rights Agreement on behalf of directors with the main UK broadcasters who pay a lump sum to us which we then distribute back to our members. More information about Directors UK’s current distribution scheme.

Operating an ECL scheme will significantly improve our ability to represent all directors and their rights when dealing with broadcasters, producers and platforms in the rapidly-changing digital world in which we now operate. Some of these companies are new to us and are not currently covered by any agreement with Directors UK; some are very large global companies who want to licence high volumes of works. We need to ensure that your works can reach audiences wherever they are, but we need to guarantee that this is done only on terms that allow directors to receive fair reward for that use.

We also want to protect individual directors who may not be aware of Directors UK yet and the way we protect the value of their rights, so that they can still receive a fair value for the use of their works even if they are not a registered member of Directors UK.

ECL licensing allows us to offer companies the use of a full range of works, but at the same time gives us the bargaining power to get a fair value for directors for that use. Current broadcasters and producers will still be able to use and show the works as they have done before.

How will Directors UK’s application to run an ECL affect me?

If you are already a member of Directors UK we will continue to work on your behalf to collect and distribute your royalties from our current broadcaster and producer partners. However, by operating as an ECL it will be easier for us to enter into new licensing deals with other broadcasters, producers and operators such as Discovery and Netflix, which should mean more royalties for you.

In order to do this we will be making some adjustments to the way we currently mandate and manage rights on behalf of directors. Under our proposed new licensing scheme directors will assign their rights to their future works to Directors UK, instead of to the broadcaster or production company. This will be done as part of updating our member agreement for the new scheme. This, together with applying to run an ECL scheme, will enable us to better manage and protect your rights and royalties and negotiate more licenses for use. Those members who are no longer creating new works will still continue to benefit from our existing distribution schemes for all past work.

If Directors UK is not able to update and extend its licensing in this way and is therefore not able to offer the right to show a comprehensive repertoire of works in the UK, there is a risk that future negotiations and potential revenues could be reduced. This would in turn reduce the money that Directors UK is able to distribute to directors through our UK royalty distribution scheme. This is why it is now so essential for us to apply to operate an ECL scheme.

How would the ECL operate?

Directors UK will negotiate, collect and redistribute the fee collected for the licenses to use the works to the correct individual right holders. We remain committed to identifying the correct director of all works used, and to find and pay that director, whether or not they are a member.

If a non-member director is due a payment under the ECL scheme then we will invite them to register their details with us so that we can make payments to them.

What types of uses of our works does it cover?

Much like the current Directors UK scheme we anticipate the ECL will initially allow us to cover television works commissioned by a UK broadcaster, unless explicitly excluded by an individual director deciding to opt out.

In the longer term it offers us the potential to widen our scope to include more content forms and allow more flexibility over the types of works and uses we can cover, now and in the future.

Why is my consent needed for the application to become an ECL?

The Copyright and Rights in Performances Regulations (2014) sets out the criteria that must be met by organisations making an ECL application. This includes a requirement that members of the licensing body applying must agree to it. As such we are required to consult our members and conduct a poll asking if they consent to the application.

In any case, we would always want to consult our members before making a major change to the way we operate, so as to make sure we are acting according to your wishes and in your best interests.

Can I opt out of the ECL?

Yes. Once the ECL scheme has been set up a right holder is able to opt out of the scheme if they wish.

However, if you chose to opt out you would no longer be eligible to receive future royalties from us under any ECL licensing scheme.

If our application to run an ECL scheme is successful then Directors UK will be required to provide clear guidance about how you can opt out, and make this available in a form that is easy to access and activate. We will make this guidance available on our website and publicise it to right holders.

What if I don’t agree with Directors UK becoming an ECL?

At this stage, if you are a member and don’t agree with our application to operate an ECL, you have the opportunity via the poll to let us know that you do not agree and to share with us your reasons for that decision. We would be happy to hear and discuss any concerns you may have at any stage of the process.

If our application is successful you will have the right to opt out of the scheme as outlined in more detail above.

If you are a non-member and don't agree or have any questions about our application please contact us on communications@directors.uk.com.

What happens if Directors UK’s ECL application is unsuccessful?

If our application is unsuccessful Directors UK will continue to collect and distribute royalties for secondary use of works under the existing Rights Agreement with UK broadcasters, and for directors who are members of Directors UK. We would still intend to seek agreements with new broadcasters and operators and to renew our UK Rights Agreement on the best possible terms, but for the reasons given above we believe that our ability to reach the best deal for you will be reduced if we are unable to operate an ECL scheme as well.

What protections are there for me?

All collective management organisations (CMOs), like Directors UK, are obliged to have a codes of conduct. These are intended to add extra security for all right holders even if they have not formally registered with Directors UK. See the Directors UK Code of Conduct.

In addition, the Collective Rights Management Regulations 2016 ensure the transparency and accountability of CMOs by placing strict statutory obligations on our operations and how we service members and non-members. Directors UK adheres to these regulations and publishes the relevant transparency information on our website.

The ECL scheme will be regulated by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. They will be responsible for ensuring that Directors UK complies with relevant regulations including making the process open and transparent to members and non-members.

Should anyone have a complaint we also have a complaints procedure, details of which can be found on our website.

What do Directors UK members need to do?

Visit our dedicated page to find out more and cast your vote.