Taking a part of the money generated by the commercial exploitation of works in the public domain: a solution proposed to the National Assembly

19/04/2021

A bill establishing a common public domain in order to fight against the precariousness of arts and culture professionals was submitted on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at the National Assembly. If adopted, this bill will modify the Intellectual Property Code.

In the current state of the French law[1], the economic rights which have not already been transferred to third parties by the author are assigned at the death of the latter to his heirs or legatees like any other property constituting his inheritance, whether it is the right of representation, the right of reproduction or the right of resale (for plastic works), except if there is a testamentary provision to the contrary. In particular, they are passed on to the heirs reserving them, the children of the author.

The latter have an exclusive right to these economic rights for 70 years from the date of the author’s death[2].

After these 70 years, the work falls into the public domain and can be exploited without authorization by anyone.

The bill submitted to the National Assembly proposes to introduce “a royalty” for the benefit of a new “common public domain” which will have to be paid either by the rights holders themselves or by the collective management organizations.

This royalty would be levied on “the economic rights of authors, performers, producers of phonograms and videograms and audiovisual communication companies from the time of their death until the works fall into the public domain“.

At the end of this 70-year period, the works would continue to fall into the public domain under the current conditions “.

This royalty could be of an amount of “50 % of the considered rights and (…) deducted by each of the organizations of collective management” and would allow to contribute “to finance the social protection and the creation of the creative professions” and thus to fight, according to the text, against the precariousness of the professionals of the cultural sector.

This bill will be examined by the National Assembly’s Committee on Cultural Affairs and Education on April 14.

Our firm UGGC and its team of lawyers specialized in intellectual property law are at your disposal to assist you in the protection of your legal and economic interests.

By the IP/IT team of UGGC

Source : National Assembly


[1] Articles L121-2 paragraph 2 of the Intellectual Property Code

[2] Article L123-1 paragraph 2 of the Intellectual Property Code

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