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Music Creators call for EU-wide Rights Reversion Mechanism

From left to right, MEP Axel Voss, MEP Helga Trüpel, Phil Manzanera, Alfons Karabuda, Patrick Ager Photo © Gilda Romero / SKAP


British and EU music creators united in calling for an  EU-wide rights reversion mechanism

Musician and Roxy Music member Phil Manzanera joined MEP Helga Trüpel (Greens) and ECSA President Alfons Karabuda in a call to close the value gap and make sure that user generated content platforms are held liable in terms of copyright. The necessity to include a rights reversion mechanism in EU law was also stressed several times. Axel Voss (EPP), Rapporteur on the directive on copyright in the digital single market was among the participants.

During the two-hour meeting with the MEPs, Council and Commission representatives, Mr. Manzanera underlined the necessity of allowing artists to terminate their contracts if their works are not promoted or the shares are obviously unfair. Mr. Manzanera highlighted that copyright must work for creators in order for musicians to further create music. “The value gap must be closed and transparency and money must flow to the creators from the exploitation of music on all digital platforms”, pointed out legendary guitarist Phil Manzanera.

“Digital capitalism must be regulated in a smart way. As a simple general principle, new digital monopolies must always acquire licenses for copyright protected material. Then we don’t need general filtering”, said MEP Helga Trüpel, who hosted the ECSA seminar.

“The meeting today gave fuel to those trying to modernize the copyright in the way it was first intended, that is safe guarding the authors enabling their future creativity. It also provided strong arguments against those seeing fair remuneration for creators as a threat to their own profit. With the help of Mr. Manzanera giving concrete examples from his own career, no one was left uncertain,” pointed out Alfons Karabuda, President of ECSA.

Open letter to the European Parliament

We represent songwriters, composers, musicians and featured artists at both EU and UK level. Together we call upon EU policy makers to complement articles 14-16 in the copyright directive with a rights reversion mechanism. The latter would allow our members to regain their rights under certain conditions.

Authors and performers are at the very heart of copyright and the creative industries. Without our members, labels and publishers would have no works to market and no music to license. Without music creators, Europe would be silenced. Still, music creators face difficulties in making a living. Rights are transferred or assigned for a very long time, in many instances for the entire duration of the copyright term. When rights are transferred or assigned, the true value of rights is not known and the remuneration received in return is not proportionate. Therefore, several copyright laws throughout the world have a rights reversion mechanism in order to protect authors and performers who have assigned rights before the true commercial value was known. Most notably the United States, Germany and Denmark to name a few. It is therefore essential that policy makers act and follow the recommendations of EU studies[1] for a rights reversion mechanism.

The copyright review is unique and a once in a generation opportunity to establish a system of greater fairness in the contractual relationship that authors and performers have with publishers and producers. We count on you to act in the interest of European music creators.

Best regards,

European Composer & Songwriter Alliance (ECSA)
British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA)
Musicians’ Union (MU)
Featured Artists’ Coalition (FAC)
Music Managers Forum (MMF)
Music Producers’ Guild (MPG)

[1] Contractual arrangements applicable to creators: law and practice of selected Member States; Study of the Legal Committee of the European Parliament. 2014