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Westminster Transparency Debate

On 28 Feb, Westminster hall held a Houses of Parliament debate on the importance of intellectual property to the British economy, where MPs discussed a wide-range of copyright issues.

Five music industry groups representing music creatives and their managers, BASCA, the FAC, the MMF, the MPG and the MU, put out a  joint statement welcoming the Government’s intervention after 18 months of attempting to reach a voluntary code of conduct on transparency between artists, songwriters and producers failed, “due to intransigence on the part of the major music corporations.”

“According to data from UK Music, it is this country’s creative talent that underpins our global success story in music. The direct economic contribution of those who compose, perform and produce music represents over 50% of our entire industry’s GVA – more than £2.1 billion. Without these individuals there would be no music business.”

“These facts are worth bearing in mind in the continued debates around streaming services, and the fight by creators to see greater transparency in how their music is licensed and how the resulting revenues are distributed.”

Their voice was acknowledged in the parliament debate. Northern Irish MP Ian Paisley raised an imperative need for a more transparent music industry. In light of Brexit, he urged the government “to make the United Kingdom the gold standard for protection of performers’ IP”, and “to grab this generational opportunity to make the UK the best and the safest place for IP to be placed, contracted and protected.”

The recent anti-piracy agreement reached between search engines and creative industries was also highly praised and the role played by the intellectual Property Office (IPO) was welcomed. Nigel Adams MP, who had instigated this IP discussion, suggested a similar role could potentially benefit and facilitate negotiation between artists, songwriters, producers, and major music corporations on the matters of transparency.

This subject was also mentioned in previous parliament debate on Digital Economy Bill, when a transparency amendment was proposed by Liberal Democrat lord Tim Clement-Jones in the House of Lords debate, however didn’t make its way to the final stage.

On EU’s level, the latest Copyright directive made an attempt to address this issue in article 14, where a “transparency obligation” was invented, granting authors and performers the right to receive on a regular basis, timely, adequate and sufficient information on the exploitation of their works. Although the exact terms and practical enforcement of this article was heavily questioned, it is unarguably a positive attempt from the government’s end.

 

One of BASCA’s key campaigns, “the Day the Music Dies”, also targets the lack of transparency in music industry, urging more transparency around digital deals, to achieve a fairer share of digital royalty income and advertising revenues linked to our members’ works

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