Collecting societies, publishers to benefit, say performers' groups

BRUSSELS — European Commission plans for an overhaul of music copyright structures have drawn fire from writers and performers.

The proposals, revealed Wednesday by the European Commission, aim to improve the legal framework for the collective management of music copyright. Royalty collection and licensing in Europe can often be a byzantine process, with over 250 individual copyright management orgs operating across the Continent, a logjam that the EC claims has stiffled some digital music innovation.

The EC’s proposals aim to modernize practices and increase cross-border co-operation with pan-European licensing standards.

However, newly-formed artists’ lobby group Younison — which includes Robbie Williams and Pink Floyd among its members — attacked the proposals, saying they would play into the hands of collecting societies and music publishers, while doing nothing for the people who create music.

The group is particularly concerned that documentation and payment requirements are limited to online music sales, which account for only 5% of the revenue stream. “The opaque way the bulk of revenue is treated is exempt of any transparency and accountability,” it said in a statement.

Collecting society umbrella body Cisac welcomed the proposals, but indicated little would change as a result. “Cisac members have already voluntarily adopted standards and best practices that meet or exceed the Commission’s criteria,” said topper Olivier Hinnewinkel.

The proposed law now goes to the European Parliament and member states for consideration.

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