Published on: 10 April 2024 in Industry

Step forward for directors as CMS Committee Report is published

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This week, the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee published a report setting out recommendations to change to the way creators are remunerated, to improve working conditions and to “future-proof” creators’ rights. 

This report follows a September CMS Select Committee hearing on the same topic, where our Chief Executive Andy Harrower represented directors alongside other organisations who collect and manage royalties on behalf of creators. 

During that session, Andy shared member testimonies reflecting the realities of being a freelance director in the UK today, making sure that directors’ income is protected and that you are paid fairly for your work. 

The report affirms what we have been fighting for, and it emphatically takes on board the points Andy made during that session. This is a significant step — it is not often that cross-party committees or policymakers so wholeheartedly support what we are trying to achieve.

The recommendations set out include:  

• appointing a Freelancers’ Commissioner to advocate for freelance workers across Government

• implementing the Smart Fund, a private copying scheme to compensate creators and protect reciprocal income payments from overseas, within 12 months

• ensuring that creators are provided with real tools to enforce their consent and receive fair compensation for use of their work by AI generators. 

We believe that there can be no excuses for these recommendations not to become reality, something Andy echoed in a statement on social media

Andy has also written directly to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer MP, calling for her to implement its recommendations as a matter of urgency. Here is Andy’s letter:  

Dear Rt Hon. Lucy Frazer MP,  

As I am sure you are aware, the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee published yesterday its inquiry report on Creator Remuneration

The report’s findings echo my email to you in February which reported that the UK’s creative freelance workforce remains in crisis after more than a year. As you may remember, Bectu reported in February 2024 that 68% of production crew were unemployed whilst a Directors UK survey in late 2023 found that 62% of film and television directors were out of work.  

Across the creative sector, freelancer pay and working conditions continue to decline and many cannot access even basic rights such as parental leave or indeed contribute to a pension. For many creative sector freelancers, their pension rests on their ability to control their IP and thus secure residual rights. However, many are forced to sign away these rights in grossly unfair employment contracts or see AI developers flout the law by scraping their copyrighted material without permission or payment.  

The impact on freelancers and their diversity is profound. In previous crises such as Covid, 50% of women creative freelancers alone quit the sector. Action must be taken now or the Government’s Creative Sector Vision of adding £50 billion more in Gross Value Added (GVA) and an extra one million more jobs by 2030 will simply not be feasible.   

We urge the Government to listen to the Committee and follow its recommendations. This would mean:   

• Establishment of a Freelancer Commissioner to make sure that the interests of the UK’s 4.4 million freelancers across all sectors are heeded by Whitehall

• Introduction of a statutory private copying scheme, the Smart Fund, within the next 12 months to pay creators for the consumption of their copyright content on digital devices

• Introduction of ‘proper mechanisms’ ( i.e. legislation) for creators to enforce their consent and receive fair compensation for the use of their work by AI developers.  

The Government must make creative freelancing a viable career option if they want the UK’s creative industries to flourish. The introduction of these recommendations will accomplish that goal and enable the creators to share more in the success of the UK’s creative and digital industries’ whose wealth and growth depends on these individuals’ creative talent. 

We look forward to working with you and other stakeholders in order to resolve this dire situation for our members and the wider creative freelancer community. 

Yours sincerley,

Andy Harrower
Chief Executive, Directors UK

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