France's union system differs greatly from the US. While there are lobby groups and associations, there are no guilds per se which resemble the Hollywood heavies such as the WGA, DGA and SAG. The closest thing to those organisations is the Societe des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (Sacd) which represents all of France's writers - who are often directors as well.
Neither is the issue of digital revenues causing sleepless nights. Rules surrounding ancillary payments and residuals have already been legislated at the state level. The groups that are the most active lobbyists, the Sacd, the association of writers, directors and producers (ARP) and others work as collectives which generally band together to lobby the culture minister. In short, protest and outrage may be common but a general writers' strike would be almost unheard of in a country that reveres rights holders.
On the digital question Pascal Rogard, head of the Sacd, explains that an agreement was reached with internet service providers about six months ago, with regard to video on demand, for the whole of his outfit's membership. "For the moment, the evolution of digital is being followed, but writers benefit from a system of remuneration which they get directly from the ISPs," says Rogard.
That deal was fostered through talks between the Sacd and the service providers who are now required, by law, to put a percentage of their revenues into local and European film production - much as is the case with, for example, cable television powerhouse Canal Plus.
Michel Gomez of writers-directors-producers lobby group ARP, says that one "preoccupation that is shared on both sides of the Atlantic is authors' rights but in the context of a different logic. In the US, it's economic; in France, the principles are in the law and then it becomes a collective issue."
AT A GLANCE
- The Societe des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (Sacd) has the biggest membership of any representative group in France, with 40,000 subscribers.
- Other major unions include arp (an association of writers, directors and producers) and Bureau de Liaison des Industries Cinematographiques (Blic), a group of independent producers.
- The Association of Cinema Producers was created in April to advise producers on legal or fiscal issues and rights.