Smart Fund to Support UK Creators 

Press release 

Culture, Media and Sport Committee Recommends Implementation of Smart Fund to Support UK Creators  

Today, a pivotal new report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee has been released calling for better support and compensation for creators, through a statutory scheme to pay them for their copyright, and the establishment of new support mechanisms for freelancers.  

One of the standout recommendations from the report is the implementation of The Smart Fund, which is aimed at compensating creators for private copying of their content. This recommendation is a beacon of hope for creators – including actors, artists, authors and directors – who have long grappled with unpredictable earnings, particularly in the era of digital consumption. The committee has recommended that the UK government work with the creative industries to develop a statutory private coping scheme, to be produced in the next twelve months.   

The Smart Fund is a proposal by organisations from across the creative industries, that will ensure creators and performers are paid fairly for their work when it is accessed, distributed, and stored on digital devices. It does this using a small percentage from sales of electronic devices which enable copying and storing creative content.    

The Smart Fund would enable creators to be fairly compensated when their works are copied or moved across digital devices. This initiative not only addresses the immediate need for creators to receive proper remuneration but also aligns with similar successful schemes implemented in 45 other countries around the world, including Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Spain.  It is estimated that implementing such a scheme in the UK could generate between £250-300million a year for creators, without cost to the government or to consumers. In some countries where similar schemes exist, such as Germany and France, 10% to 15% of the residual payment goes into national arts and culture funding.  

BECS Member and Actor, John Hollingworth, who provided evidence at September’s CMS Committee session, highlighted the challenges and precarity faced by freelance creators, and the critical importance of future-proofing statutory payments: “There is an expectation that actors can live on thin air and can survive until the next job, instead of getting fair pay for the work that we do and receiving meaningful residuals for it. It is easy to assume that because I have been in lots of television shows and have stood next to lots of famous people that I never struggle for money. But it is important to admit that, even at my relatively successful level, it is challenging year on year. £2,000 or £3,000 per year is a huge amount of money. It covers mortgages. It puts food on the table. If you ask how our work could be made less precarious, then safeguarding the money that Collective Management Organisations collect on our behalf is vital. We absolutely cannot underestimate it.”    

Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, Chair of the CMS Committee, underscored the urgency of supporting creators in navigating the rapidly evolving landscape of the creative industries. “If creators are no longer to be the poor relations, the Government needs to play catch up by plugging the gaps in outdated copyright and intellectual property regulations and ensuring that there is a champion for the rights of freelancers, who make such a vital contribution to their industries.”   

The Chief Executives from ALCS (Authors and Writers), BECS (Actors and Performers) DACS (Visual Artists), Directors UK and PICSEL (Visual Artists) provided the following joint statement:    

The way we experience culture is constantly changing. Together, we are campaigning for a statutory mechanism that protects the rights of creators and performers, when their works are enjoyed, shared, and distributed, including across digital devices. The Smart Fund represents a pivotal opportunity to offer creators a sustainable income stream in an ever-expanding digital environment. We call on all political parties to commit to adopting the recommendations laid out in this report in their general election manifesto, particularly the urgent need to implement the Smart Fund to fairly remunerate, resource and recognise our creators.”   

The report is the outcome of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee session on Creator Remuneration on 19th September 2023. Representatives from Collective Management Organisations across the Creative industries provided evidence to the committee on the issues affecting creator remuneration in the UK. The extension of existing collective licensing schemes was tabled as a means to alleviate low remuneration for creators.   

End.  

Press Contact: 

Kate Rosser-Frost, Head of Communications and Engagement, DACS   kate.rosser-frost@dacs.org.uk 07908 711 945  

Alistair Small, Communications and Engagement Lead, DACS   alistair.small@dacs.org.uk 07502 214 434  

Further information on The Smart Fund can be found at: https://thesmartfund.co.uk/   

Once published, the full report will be available here.