The Opera Platform - Rights Manifesto

The Opera Platform has been created as a FREE, live and on demand service to promote a European Opera Season. Its purpose is to share the work of our opera companies with a wider audience.

The EC’s limited-term investment in the project is to promote those aims and also to support the creation of new production and financial models in an ever-evolving web environment, in order that they may be sustainable in the future. To that end, the 17 project partners (15 theatres plus ARTE and Opera Europa) are collaborating to establish practical models for acquiring rights from artists to enable material to be shared via the internet. The rationale for demanding such rights at no or limited cost is that it is in all the artists’ interest to promote, and thereby legitimise, performances sustained by public investment to a more inclusive audience.

1.    Singers and conductors
Negotiations began with the International Artist Managers’ Association (IAMA) in autumn 2014, leading to their constructive proposal for clauses to be inserted in contracts which would stipulate free rights for The Opera Platform, as set out in the guideline document below.

2.    Chorus and Orchestra
House agreements of some partner theatres already have buy-outs covering broadcast and/or streaming rights for chorus and orchestra. Others prefer to agree fixed payments ad hoc. All partners and contributors need agreements in place; and, where necessary, consider using part of the EC money to secure the long-term change.
3.    Production teams
Freelance directors, designers and choreographers have traditionally been more resistant to buy-outs for what they regard as an extension of their rights. Our advice is that 
such rights for the free service provided by TOP should be incorporated within the artist’s primary contract; but, when not, that a token additional payment should be agreed in recognition of this non-commercial activity.

4.    Author rights
The EC charter’s article 27 on cultural rights poses the question: ‘How can interests arising from authorship be fulfilled and protected in a digital world without impeding other rights to free participation in the cultural life and enjoyment of the arts?’
The best solution is for streaming rights to be incorporated within contracts for composers and librettists of commissioned works. For existing works, whose copyright is protected by royalty payments for grand rights or lesser rights for critical or scientific editions, we propose guidelines for a fixed sum payment in respect of free streaming for six months on TOP: a standard fee of 3.000€, adjustable down for non-grand-rights material, or up for agreed larger-scale works in large theatres but within a reasonable ‘corridor’ commensurate with total budget spend. Such payment should cover the use of extracts and the libretto for subtitles and associated promotional material.

IAMA guideline clause for inclusion in standard Opera Singers’ contracts
‘Not withstanding clauses elsewhere in this Agreement granting The Company the rights to broadcast or record and disseminate visual or audition recordings of The Production in return for a fee, the Artist agrees that The Company may arrange for any of his/her performances in the Production to be streamed on the Internet (either live or by deferred transmission) via The Opera Platform free of any obligation on the part of The Company to pay remuneration.
‘The Artist further consents to the recording made for The Opera Platform to remain accessible via the internet for a period of six months. This consent is given free of charge and no payment shall be due to The Artist in respect of this right.
‘The Artist further consents to participate in the making of promotional material to accompany the Production on the internet as required by The Company. This consent is given free of charge and no payment will be due for participation in the preparation of this material. 
‘The Company also guarantees that the initiative is non-commercial and no profit will result to itself or to any other participating organisation or Artist from this project.’