Artists’ Lobby Attacks New EU Music Copyright Directive

TThe director of a prominent artists’ lobby has attacked the European Commission’s new proposal for collective management of copyright of rights in musical works for online uses in the European Union.

Kelvin Smits, the Director of Younison, a pressure platform designed to influence European policy, said, “[T]he Directive as it stands now institutionalizes a system of governance that plays into the hand of CS , editors and record labels, and neglects for the lager part that all these parties owe their existence to the individual authors, and that therefor [sic]  the Directive falls totally short of protecting those it is intended to protect.”

The European Commission says that it hopes to put in place a better legal framework for the collective management of rights that are administered by collecting societies on behalf of rightholders such as authors, performers and producers. By improving the standards of “governance, transparency and financial management” of collecting societies,  the European Commission wants to ensure better management of revenues collected on behalf of the rightholders (creators).

However, Smits criticised the the proposed EU directive on Collective Rights Management (CRM) for ignoring all of Younison’s demands, while ensuring that “the archaic and opaque redistributions systems” become institutionalised, even in the digital era.

Transparency has become an increasingly trying area for policy makers, with critics of collecting societies describing their handling of revenues as akin to “black box collections”.

Smits argues that artists without financial or legal backing are then left out of pocket, as collecting societies are able to claim that they do not have enough data in order to redistribute revenues to creators.

However, Reuters has reported that the directive “would force companies that manage music rights to pay artists their royalties more speedily”.

According to Reuters, collecting societies would have 12 months after the financial year in which a track was played to redistribute revenues to content creators.

But Smits was less than optimistic on this front: “Except for the exploitation of on-line music – which for the moment represents about 5% of the total amount of revenue for CS [collecting societies] (and for authors) throughout the EU- the directive ignores all our demands.

“[T]he Directive gives the CS  the right to hold on to all collected money (except online) for 24 months after it is collected, without taking into account the frequency of which it has been collected in our name.”

The directive, which is not yet public, has been the subject of much speculation, but industry experts and laymen alike are awaiting further details on the period of time given to collecting societies to redistribute revenues.

According to the European Commission, the directive will ideally result in “faster and increased remuneration for creators”.

Samuel Agini is the Editor of Andrew Apanov’s Dotted Music.