Sunday

30th Apr 2017

EU targets €6-bn-a-year artists' royalties business

  • Barnier: 'We want these agencies to be properly managed, to be trusted, to offer proper guarantees to authors' (Photo: Thomas Hawk)

The EU has taken a swipe at organisations responsible for collecting up to €6 billion a year in artists' royalties.

Single market commissioner Michael Barnier in Brussels on Wednesday (11 July) unveiled draft new laws for the sector, designed to give artists more control over their money and to make it easier to sell online music across the EU.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said several times he is "not pointing the finger" of blame at anybody.

But he noted that the 250-or-so "collecting societies" - which scoop up micro-payments from the Internet or radio and TV stations on behalf of artists in Europe - need "modernisation."

He said many of them refuse to tell artists how much money they have collected, withhold payments for over a year at a time, do not give artists a say in the way they are managed, lack "respect" for artists in general and refuse to issue multi-country licences.

"We want these agencies to be properly managed, to be trusted, to offer proper guarantees to authors, who have the right to get their money on time and to be properly represented in these entities," Barnier said.

He added that the current set-up fosters online piracy.

"It is not surprising that young consumers look elswhere than the legal supply [for online music]," due to the confusing and fragmented nature of the market, the commissioner said.

The draft new law - which now goes to EU countries and MEPs for approval - says the societies must publish normal accounts and pass on royalties within 12 months or less.

They must give artists a role in management decisions and the right to choose which agency represents them in any given country.

They also call for selected societies, which have the IT capability to do it, to issue multi-country licences for online music, worth €4.5 billion a year out of the €6 billion total.

The bill avoids calling for pan-EU licences for songs because this would require a centralised EU rights agency, creating a "de facto monopoly" in violation of EU competition law.

The collecting societies' Brussels-based lobby group, Gesac, welcomed the initiative despite Barnier's harsh words.

Gesac secretary general Veronique Desbrosses told EUobserver on Wednesday she is still analysing details of the bill, but that she also wants to create more trust in the sector and to establish a clear legal framework for cross-border music sales.

"We are not all the same," she added, when asked whether Barnier's bleak description of Gesac members is accurate.

For its part, Younison - an artists' group also based in the EU capital - said the commission's law will "institutionalise" problems in the sector.

It complained in an open letter on 8 July that non-online-related royalties can still be withheld for up to 24 months and kept out of annual accounts.

It also noted that societies will be able to keep hold of what they call "hard to distribute" fees - royalties for artists whom they cannot easily contact (a pot worth €5 billion as things stand) - and to deduct as much as they like for promoting cultural activities in their home countries.

"The directive falls totally short of protecting those it is intended to protect," it said.

MEPs in call for euro-passport for artists

EU culture commissioner Jan Figel supports a proposal to grant working artists in Europe a special social status enabling them to travel and practise their art throughout the union without missing out on social rights.

Focus

Musicians fear 'chaos' as Brussels gets set to regulate royalties

The European Commission is looking to regulate author's collecting societies this spring - the bodies that collect royalties on behalf of musicians - a senior civil servant has revealed, but the artists themselves are apprehensive, saying that the last intervention of Brussels in the sector has produced "chaos".

Eurogroup makes 'progress' on Greek deal

Eurozone ministers endorsed an agreement in principle between the Greek government and its creditors over a new package of reforms. But talks on fiscal targets and debt could still block a final agreement.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Commission stops German-British stock merger

The decision to block the merger of the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse was expected, as negotiations between the parties broke down a few weeks ago.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Investigation

MEPs oppose EU agency to prevent Dieselgate II

The European Parliament said on Tuesday that there should be more EU oversight on how cars are approved, but stopped short of calling for an independent EU agency.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual