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Pyramide Europe is the organization representing groups of photographers, graphic designers, illustrators and other visual artists in the European Union. Pyramide’s name comes from the site of its first meeting in 1989, the Pyramide of the Louvre in Paris, where the founding members signed a declaration of ten items of fundamental legislative importance to photographers and artists – the Manifesto of the Pyramide. This manifesto binds Pyramide and encompasses the rights of creators with regard to their copyright and moral rights.
As a European Economic Interest Group, Pyramide Europe represents most of the 15 member states and is establishing contacts with the new group of nations. The organization is voluntary both in its membership and workers and has no paid staff, relying on the power of argument rather than the might of the euro to get its message across.
The organization structure could also be described as a pyramid. Pyramide Europe is at the sharp end as a lobbying and debating vehicle on a EU wide basis as well as developing ideas and strategy whilst dealing with organizations with similar interests. Registered in the UK as a not for profit company, Pyramide Europe is run from a London office and hosted by the Association of Photographers. From this central point spread the national Pyramides, each is comprised of various organizations in their own country some only representing photographers and others a mixture of photographers and artists of other mediums. These national organizations work internally to lobby, educate, inform and organize.
Pyramide Europe has long provided one of the few voices speaking on behalf of, and in favor of, photographers’ rights in debates that have led to unified laws in the EU such as the term directive, and enforcement directive. We have played a full part in presenting evidence in all relevant enquires from the European Commission since 1992 and have been involved in the wider debates taking place in conferences, meetings, television and radio programs putting forward the views and needs of practicing photographers and artists.
Our campaigning extends beyond responding to initiatives as we have been pushing for much needed legislation to curb the practice of unfair contracts being forced upon artists with a ‘don’t sign, don’t work’ threat. As media companies become increasingly larger in size and smaller in numbers, the pressure on individual artists to sign these onerous contracts increases, with many artists who refuse to sign being stopped from working.
Our aim is to create an environment where artists of all mediums can continue to create in a market that is open and fair – an aim which should be consensus driven to the benefit of all parties. Unfortunately, in the face of greed, ignorance and globalization this is not the case and Pyramide faces a great battle on behalf of its members. At stake is the creative future of much of Europe.
The 10 Articles of the Pyramide Manifesto
The Photographer is invested, by reason of the creation of his work, with unassailable moral rights and its copyright.
The moral rights are rights personal to the Author and relate to his name, work and his status as a creator and to the manner in which his work is reproduced and to his right to withhold any rights of reproduction.
The ‘Patrimonial Right’ is the exclusive right of the Photographer during his life to exploit his work in such a manner as he wishes and to receive profit from this.
a) The Photographer is paid for the work he carries out and is also paid for the right to use.
b) Fees paid relate to the creation and production of the photograph.
c) Any use of the photograph requires the prior written agreement of the Photographer on the use of the photograph and a payment for the right to use from the client.
d) Permission for the use of the photograph and the validity of the written agreement from the Photographer concerning the transfer of usage rights depends on the precise terms of the agreement and related specified fees for each usage based on the geographical area, the term, the importance of the image and the type and context of use.
e) Any use of the photograph, total or partial, without the written consent of the Photographer or which exceeds the agreed scope of use is an infringement.
Each user of the photograph must, even in the absence of a contract, declare usage of the photograph to the Photographer. Each user of the photograph must send, free of charge, two evidential copies of the photograph to the Photographer at least one of which must be a complete copy. If these copies are not sent, two evidential copies of usage must be put aside for the use of the Photographer without him having to claim them.
The Photographer retains ownership of the photographic work and any supporting material delivered to the client. When the agreed usage period expires all the photographic materials entrusted for this period must be returned to the Photographer in the condition in which they were delivered originally.
Any reproduction or use of the photograph, in the absence of a waiver of moral rights, must give a credit of the name and status of the Photographer beneath or next to the photograph.
It is the Photographer alone who is responsible for the selection and choice of his image given for usage. Any change or modification to the photograph (e.g. montage, changing of the image, photographic distortion, colouring or digital storing of the image) is not permitted except with the consent of the Photographer.
In the event that any photograph, transparency or duplicate is lost, damaged or is not returned the client must compensate the Photographer for the loss he has suffered or for the agreed value if this had been specified in the contract.
Any input, manipulation or transmission of the photographic image by any digital or electronic system requires the prior consent of the Photographer in writing concerning the terms under which the photograph may be inputted, used or transmitted.
The Unfair Contract Book Project
Despite the harmonization of many aspects of copyright legislation there is still the opportunity for authors’ rights to be overturned by contract. For example, the UK Unfair Terms of Contract Act 1977 specifically excludes copyright works. Commissioning contracts, particularly in the publishing fields, are generally presented with a ‘don’t sign don’t work proviso’ which many individual authors are unable to resist due to economic pressures. We believe that this power structure is wrong and goes against the spirit of trade practice and legislation.
Germany and Rumania have already established legislation which addresses many of the unfair contract issues we oppose. The German legislation provides for contracts to include fair usage payments by mutual agreement and industry arbitration should agreement not be reached, together with a provision for renegotiation should the value of the work be significantly higher than originally allowed for. We believe that all EU authors should be afforded the same right, a level playing field which allows for equitable remuneration across the borders. We further believe that as this legislation exists in one EU country then European wide licenses, without due recompense to the authors, are already distorting trade.
We have made numerous interventions at EU conferences and met with various Commission staff. The recent acqui noticeably omitted mention to this important area and we have been told that to bring contract legislation back onto the agenda we must continue lobbying.
In order to bring unfair contracts to the fore we must prove cross border distortion of trade. We are producing a book to provide evidence of unfair contracts from various countries with a statement by each of the Pyramide’s as to the problems their authors face from the unfair contracts they are forced to sign. The book is launched in 2009 and distributed to Commission staff, politicians and legislators within the EU.