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Dan Moore

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UK MUSIC CALLS ON BRITISH EURO MPS TO ENSURE FAIR REWARDS FOR MUSIC CREATORS AND INVESTORS

UK Music is urging British Euro MPs to protect the music industry by backing crucial changes to copyright law.

CEO Michael Dugher called on the UK’s Euro MPs to back the proposed Copyright Directive following its approval by the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee today (Weds June 20).

The draft Directive contains welcome provisions for tackling the transfer of value from the music industry to online platforms.

The UK music industry has long campaigned to close the value gap which has resulted in platforms such as YouTube offering music without being fully licensed for the use of content, depriving creators and investors of music of revenue.

One of the key elements of the proposed Directive is Article 13 which creates a new legal framework to ensure that large online services pay creators and respect the content they use.

It was passed today and will help address the issue of transfer of value which has hit the ability of rightsholders’ to earn income from their work published on digital platforms.

The European Parliament as a whole will now vote on the proposals in early July.  UK Music said it was crucial that Euro MPs recognised the importance of backing these copyright changes.

Commenting, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said:

“Companies like YouTube pay only a fraction of the royalties of other music services. Not only does this badly distort the development of the digital economy, but it also fundamentally denies music creators, and those that invest in them, fair financial rewards.

“Google’s YouTube have made a fortune from music content that has been created by others. This is one of the great scandals of the internet age and it has to stop now.

“UK MEPs must now seize this opportunity to put this right. They should do the decent thing. We need to address the transfer of value and close the value gap once and for all.”

 

End Pay To Play Now – A statement from BASCA and its Media Committee

 

Composers own the works they create: this is the essence of copyright.  The copyright legal framework gives songwriters and composers economic and moral rights of ownership over their musical works and allows them to earn their living.  This copyright in their music, manifested in the  ‘performing right’ and the ‘mechanical right’, remains the intellectual property of the composer until such time as they assign it to a publisher or other entity.

Fortunately in the UK and the EU composers have 50% of their performing right protected as it is subject to an ‘exclusive assignment’ to PRS for Music (or other Performing Right Society) that protects writers from anyone else taking or bargaining over this portion.  Unfortunately this means the other 50%, sometimes assigned to an existing publisher but sometimes not, is considered up for grabs. It is becoming an increasingly common practice, and in our view bad practice, for commissioners of TV programs, including production companies, to insist that they take ‘all of the publishing’.

BASCA strongly disapproves of this forced 50% performance royalty assignment (and frequently 100% mechanical royalties too) as a condition of a composer accepting a job, but we have evidence there is now an increasingly common practice of asking TV composers to work with no upfront commissioning fee either.

We think it worth making clear that when they take publishing rights, any production company is already getting original music written, produced and delivered effectively free of charge, in that any commissioning fee paid to the composer will eventually be recouped by the appropriation of their performing and mechanical royalties; in effect, any fee is merely an advance.  To expect a writer not only to part with a great portion of their potential royalty earnings but in addition supply bespoke, finished music for no fee places undue pressure on the working composer.

This commissioning policy puts the composer in the invidious position of working for nothing and receiving no back end compensation if the production happens not to be successful. Any working composer will inevitably have costs to cover, not only for their own time, but also for studios, session musicians, equipment, mixing, production and so on.  Effectively one is creating a ‘pay-to-play’ scenario for such a ‘composer-investor’, one that could well lead to such practitioners getting into financial difficulties. It is unsustainable.

Any production company pursuing such practices is guilty of abuse of contractual negotiating power and is representative of inequality in the bargaining relationship between individual composers and more powerful production companies.  We call for an immediate end to such practices.

 

Vick Bain CEO BASCA and The Media Committee of BASCA

 

Extracts from this statement were also published in Broadcast magazine

Entries are now open for the 2018 British Composer Awards.

Anyone, including the composer, can enter eligible works, and entries across all twelve award categories are judged anonymously.

Works that received a UK première performance, either live or broadcast, between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018 are eligible across the following categories:

Amateur or Young Performers
Chamber Ensemble
Choral
Community or Educational Project
Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble
Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble
Orchestral
Small Chamber
Solo or Duo
Sonic Art
Stage Works
Wind Band or Brass Band

Entries are made via our Entry Site, where you can also find our full Rules and Guidelines and Eligibility Criteria.
Visit https://basca.secure-platform.com to enter works. The closing date for entries is Monday 9 July 2018.

The British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage.

The British Composer Awards will take place on Tuesday 4 December in the BP Lecture Theatre and East Foyer of the British Museum, London.

@ComposerAwards
www.britishcomposerawards.com

BASCA Chair Crispin Hunt, Matthew Irons, singer, songwriter and guitarist of the Belgian band Puggy, Polish author, composer, performer and conductor Piotr Rubik,, electronic composer Jean-Michel Jarre, singer and producer; Astrid North and Cora Novoa, Spanish electronic and experimental pop music composer and DJ

BASCA Chair Crispin Hunt delivered an address to the EU in Brussels this week on the subject of the growing ‘Value Gap’.

Hunt was helping to re-launch the #MakeInternetFair petition, which includes the signatures of over 15,000 creators from across Europe – alongside representatives from GESAC, CISAC, and PRS.

The EU are currently debating the first major copyright overhaul for over 17 years.

The process aims to create a number of significant new reforms and a radically different copyright framework. A vote will take place later this year.

A delegation of European musicians, songwriters and their representatives met with the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel to press home their case on Tuesday (6th March).

The #MakeInternetFair petition, which asks the EU to change the balance of value between from creators towards online platforms and tech conglomerates such as YouTube and Facebook, also makes demands for so-called ‘safe harbour’ non-liability provisions not to be abused and used as an excuse to knowingly infringe copyrighted works.

Hunt said,

“I hereby sign and launch this petition of over 15 thousand creator signatures in the name of protecting the future of European creativity. 

Not only protecting the future for professional creators but to protect each and every citizen creator and their children’s children, the value of whose creativity is being sucked out of Europe and into the offshore accounts of unaccountable tech giants.

These technology companies claim to be the guardians of freedom of speech, but if you truly believe in freedom of speech then protect creativity;  protect authors, poets, musicians, filmmakers and playwrights who speak a truth that algorithms will never understand.

Because when you take the human out of the process, you can also remove the humanity.

Europe, was built upon an ideology — a social contract to care for all its citizens and the civilization they enjoy.

Putting one’s faith solely in the magic of the market will only substitute one kind of naivety for another.

The market, the consumer and the future needs culture. And culture – from the paintings on the wall of a cave in Almeria to the truth printed by the press- defines European civilization and its identity.

Remember, it wasn’t the printing press that changed the world it was the words printed on it.

A yawning chasm has emerged between the richest 1% and the unlucky 99%. Solving this value gap will go some way to address that imbalance for future generations.

Setting up the internet so that it once again runs on effective competition as opposed to monopoly is the goal the European authorities must achieve.”

Following Hunt’s speech BASCA CEO Vick Bain said, “For 3 years now BASCA has been campaigning publically for the removal of safe harbour provisions for certain online platforms such Facebook and YouTube; these intermediaries benefit from others creativity and knowingly hold infringing copyright works.

“We have the opportunity to sort this out within our reach and this petition, backed up by thousands of BASCA members, should demonstrate to the EU Commission how important an issue for creators this is.”

BASCA to help pay out photocopying royalties to UK writers

 

Copydan Writing (Copydan) https://copydanwriting.dk is a non-profit Danish collective management organisation based in Copenhagen. Copydan distributes remuneration to rightsholders individually.  Copydan enters into agreements with educational institutions and public and private businesses enabling such institutions to photocopy and use others’ text and sheet music material for the purpose of educational activities or internal use.  The agreements collected by Copydan are based on extended collective license provisions in the Danish Copyright Act.  There is no such photocopying levy in the UK so no mechanism for distribution of such monies currently exists here.

Copydan contacted BASCA, as the leading UK composers’ trade body, in accordance with provisions set out in the CRM Directive (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/518555/Guidance_on_CRM_Directive_implementing_regulations.pdf ), requesting BASCA assist in paying out these photocopying royalties to UK writers where identified. In previous years, because the UK has no reciprocal deals regarding such levies, Copydan may have used the monies for internal issues such as Danish cultural or social deductions. However, because of the Collective Right Management Directive they are now required to make proper efforts to pay out to the correct rights-holders and have contacted BASCA accordingly.

Copydan have provided BASCA with adequate data and details of the monies owed to individual identified UK Composers. BASCA will distribute Copydan Royalties accordingly and in a timely fashion. PRS for Music are also helping us trace a number of writers and are kindly contacting people on BASCA’s behalf asking them to contact us to arrange payment.

The Music Publishers Association have also agreed to pay out Copydan royalties to the associated publishers on the same works.

This is a service BASCA has decided to take on, on behalf of UK composers and songwriters. Not only for our members but for anyone with Copydan monies owing – though we sincerely hope and anticipate many will want to join BASCA to help expedite future Copydan payments.  This will be an ongoing arrangement and we hope to approach other European photocopying levy collecting societies to see if we can help repatriate more monies back to British writers.  Many other trade bodies have such arrangements on behalf of their members and we felt it would be remiss of us not to assist Copydan in this important initiative.  We are here to help writers and we believe this service will benefit UK songwriters and composers.

To clarify, BASCA is not the collection society. We are not taking commission, but we are in accordance with the CRM Directive taking a 10% management fee (8% to members) to cover set up, financial, administrative and distribution costs. This percentage is in line with appropriate CRM management charges.

This money has not been distributed to UK writers in the past. It is new money that UK writers would not otherwise have received.

BASCA is pleased to be able to offer this service to UK composers going forward but continues to actively campaign and call for private and educational copying levies to be introduced in the UK as in much of Europe.

BASCA is in the process of contacting those writers that have been identified as having royalties owed to them to arrange direct payment. If you have received a notice regarding Copydan remuneration and require any assistance please contact Jenny Spiers on 0207 636 2929 or royalties@basca.org.uk.

The Music Modernisation Act is a proposed new piece of legislation in the US that aims to reform copyright law. The two Congressmen behind it – Doug Collins and Hakeem Jeffries – say that their proposals, if passed, would “bring music licensing its first meaningful update in almost 20 years”.

Unlike most other countries, In the US there is no collecting society offering a blanket licence covering the ‘mechanical rights’ in songs, which are exploited whenever a song is copied. This means users of music must identify the owners of every song they copy, and make sure those owners receive the licensing paperwork and fixed royalty rate set out in American copyright law.

For streaming platforms such as Spotify, who exploit both the performing right and mechanical right elements of the song copyright, this has proven to be very problematic. They distribute performing right royalties to collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP, but in order to pay the mechanicals, the platforms must do that themselves. With no central database documenting music rights ownership, that’s proven to be a very difficult.

This all means that many copyright owners haven’t received the royalties that they are due which constitutes copyright infringement on the part of the streaming platforms. Spotify are currently being sued by publishing company Wixen for $1.6 billion.

This new act would create a blanket mechanical licensing system that would replace the current decentralised system.  Administered by a new ‘super-PRO,’ all artist and publishers would register their tracks; and platforms like Spotify, that want to use the music, would licence it there.

It would be easy to believe that support for the new act is universal but this is not the case. BASCA Chair Crispin Hunt says: “BASCA potentially approves of the MMA as it should benefit British and EU Writers significantly but feels there are a number of details that need to be clarified before we can give our full support. The following video highlights a number of these concerns. BASCA is meeting with UK Publishers to discuss  mutually beneficial resolutions to our issues with the MMA in coming weeks”. 

 

 

‘BASCA has been made aware of some comments on social media regarding an internal, confidential Human Resources ( HR) matter at BASCA and in response has chosen to issue the following statement of clarification:

A formal grievance alleging accusations of bullying and harassment  was raised by an employee in September 2016. This included serious allegations against five BASCA Members.

A full investigation into the grievance was undertaken, due  to the nature of the allegations this investigation was conducted by an impartial, independent external Human Resources specialist in line with BASCA policy.

In November 2016, a second grievance was raised by the same staff member. This included new allegations of victimisation and retaliation, naming the same 5 Members who were under investigation in grievance one.

After a full and thorough investigation into both grievances, in March 2017 the board of BASCA convened to hear the independent conclusions. The Board upheld the findings of the investigation which concluded a number of the allegations of bullying and harassment were proven.

BASCA considered the seriousness of the findings and the Board made a decision to terminate the membership of four of the five members that were named in both grievances. The termination was for unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour, which had been described as bullying and harassment.

The fifth member was issued with a conditional formal warning but declined the conditions and chose to resign.

In line with BASCA policy those Members whose membership was terminated had the right to appeal the decision.

At the appellants request, an independent barrister was appointed as Appeal Officer and following a full and thorough appeal process three appeals are complete. The findings relating to three of the appeals recommended that the board should uphold the decision to terminate membership.

The fourth appeal was since withdrawn.

BASCA wants to assure all Members that when faced with such serious allegations BASCA undertook a fair and thorough process prior to making any decision.

There were multiple allegations contained within 2 serious grievances , some of these allegations were upheld and some were not, however overall the Board felt the findings articulated behaviour that was unacceptable and warranted the action the Board has taken.

To protect the privacy and dignity of all involved BASCA is confident it has done everything it can to conduct this grievance investigation and process in a professional and confidential way. However, we regret that some individuals have chosen to engage in social media gossip.

Crispin Hunt , BASCA Chair, makes the following comment:  ‘Whilst it is deeply regretful that such a complex, upsetting and challenging situation has occurred at our hugely respected membership organisation.  I’m proud that BASCA has conducted itself in a professional and fair way throughout. Our Members , staff and all stakeholders have a right to a safe and respectful environment. BASCA will not tolerate bullying or harassment in any form.’

BASCA considers the matter closed and is now focused on the challenges ahead.

Crispin Hunt – Chair, BASCA

 

Nitin Sawhney and Mira Calix join BASCA representatives at the Bulgarian Embassy

BASCA delivers letter to the Bulgarian Ambassador to ask for support in the protection of copyright.

On January 1, 2018, a decade after its accession to the EU, Bulgaria took over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU For six months. Bulgaria is now the main driving force for the tasks on the agenda of the Union, performing the functions of an objective mediator and political leader.  Yesterday (13/02/18) BASCA Chair Crispin Hunt, BASCA CEO Vick Bain and members Nitin Sawhney and Mira Calix visited the Bulgarian Embassy in West London to personally deliver a letter to the Ambassador and ask for his country’s support for future creativity and culture in Europe.

One of the key priorities on the agenda of the Bulgarian Presidency is the Digital Single Market; in particular copyright legislation which aims to harmonise the essential rights of authors and of performers, publishers and broadcasters.  The EU needs modern copyright rules fit for the digital age. The Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market is the first update of copyright legislation for 20 years.  The European Commission has presented legislative proposals to make sure that consumers and creators can make the most of the digital world and ensure a fairer market place for online content.  BASCA has campaigned consistently for the past few years to ensure that the wording of this legislation will best protect and support songwriters and composers.

BASCA CEO Vick Bain says “The Copyright Directive is in now its final stages and so it is vitally important the voice of the music creators and performers are heard at the highest level.   That is why BASCA organised a meeting with the Bulgarian Ambassador in order to ensure our points of concern over the future of music and culture in the EU are delivered directly to the Bulgarian Presidency”.

BASCA member Nitin Sawhney comments “Campaigning to ensure songwriters and composers are protected and can earn a liveable income from digital platforms such as YouTube and Spotify is an essential aspect of the BASCA mandate. In that regard, it was an honour yesterday to meet with the Bulgarian Ambassador and ensure the voice of songwriters and composers was heard in this important debate”.

The letter reads:

Dear Ambassador Dimitrov,

We are writing to you today on behalf of 2,200 of the United Kingdom’s top songwriters and composers to ask for your support in securing the best possible legal framework for the protection of future creativity and culture in Europe. We acknowledge the rich and wonderful musical heritage of the Bulgarian people and know you will share a common interest in wishing to protect it.

Music is an essential expression of European cultural identity and a robust copyright regime, coupled with strong accountability across all Creator Rights, is essential if the EU is to protect musicians and composers. Europe’s creative industries have flourished because we have had sensible laws in place to allow a fair and competitive market for content; but the growing domination of the digital environment means those laws are now in urgent need of modernising. One of your stated priorities for the presidency is the Digital Single Market. The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market is that opportunity for modernisation.

In 2015, YouTube accounted for 40% of overall online music consumption but only 4% of revenue. They claim to have paid out $1billion to music industry last year, but that only equates to $1 per user per year. Compare that to the $17 per user per annum returned from streaming services like Spotify and you begin to see the inequity in the market. After a 20% cut from Google Ads YouTube takes another 45% of all advertising income on its platform. The owners of the video and the sound recording share the remainder with finally, songwriters and composers, getting a fraction of the revenue their work generates. And that is only if the works attract advertising; where there is no direct advertising then the creator gets nothing. YouTube is arguably the biggest and probably the best streaming service on the planet, yet it avoids paying properly for the content it serves by exploiting an outdated legal loophole that fails to reflect contemporary consumption habits; Safe Harbour. That is why YouTube is valued at over $70bn yet EU composers and songwriters have to share a fraction of $0.0007 per stream.

Likewise, with Facebook. Last year Forbes valued Facebook at over $400 billion, the 6th most valuable company in the world. Last year they declared over $35 billion in advertising revenue and over 2 billion monthly users of the service. Facebook are only now concluding licensing deals with the major record labels and publishers; yet music has been a key driver of their platform offer for years. We are not privy to the terms of the deal for the majors because of non-disclosure agreements but independent publishers have suggested the licenses are being constructed in such a way to avoid liability or ultimately to pay royalties.

In the Copyright Directive we have a chance to make these platforms secure proper licensing deals for all music used on their service through Article 13. This is a once in a generation opportunity to correct the ‘value gap’; the gap between how much value the platforms take from music and the value returned to the creators for the use of their works.. The Bulgarian Presidency is working on a compromise for Article 13; creators prefer the option that clarifies that the platforms, or online content sharing service providers, such as YouTube and Facebook ‘communicate to the public’ and for the Safe Harbour limitation to be more focused. This will bring them into the music value chain and will correct the drain of the value of European cultural talent and return any benefit to Europe.

There are also other measures in place in the Directive in Articles 14, 15 and 16 that are essential for the future protection of creators and citizen creators and to strengthen their negotiating power to achieve a fairer and more balanced marketplace for their work. The Directive has acknowledged the often-insurmountable difference in power between an individual composer and an international broadcast company in contractual negotiations for their works. These will go some way to correcting this power imbalance and include further obligations towards transparency, a contract adjustment mechanism (in case of a failure to exploit or proportionately share the rewards of success) and a dispute resolution system.

Now Bulgaria is leading the Council’s work; your support for the sensible and timely creator friendly reforms included in this Directive is crucial to maintaining a healthy and sustainable environment for the entire European musical community. As your chosen motto states ‘United We Stand Strong’, we at BASCA certainly hope that Bulgaria will unite with the Creators of Europe to ensure that we can indeed continue to stand strong in the Global Creative Market.

 

Spotify has confirmed that it is finally adding songwriter and producer credits to its platform.

This will start on the desktop version first but will then be rolled out to mobile version application in the future.

The data is being provided by record labels which Spotify admits may not be completely accurate and says ‘The feature will continually evolve to become more efficient, provide better functionality, and incorporate more information from industry partners over time.’

 

BASCA CEO, Vick Bain comments

“What an absolutely fantastic way to end the week; to see something we have been calling for years come to fruition.  Songwriter credits on streaming services is something we have been strongly and repeatedly insisting on.  Our campaigning on this issue certainly helped push the platforms to work on a solution.  We have had numerous meetings with digital platforms, collective management organisations and publishers and there was a will….we knew there would be a way.  Proper credits on these services is not only good for songwriters, composers and producers it is good for fans…how much more a richer experience they will have learning about the people behind their favourite tracks and developing an appreciation for the fact it is often not the performer who creates that music.   Tidal launched a similar service a few months ago, but Spotify are the largest platform by far so this is excellent news and I hope all of the rest will follow soon.  We understand the data is coming from the record labels not publishers and therefore may not be 100% accurate or complete, but let’s see what they have and we can all work on correcting that data together.  Songwriters and composers are the very reason the music industry exists…it is only right that that they should be properly credited!”.

Following a landmark ruling, royalty rates paid to songwriters in the US from on-demand subscription streaming will rise by 44% over the next five years.

As a result of a trial that took place between March and June of 2017 with the National Music Publishers Association and the Nashville Songwriters Association (NSAI), with the likes of Google,  Apple, Spotify, and Amazon lobbying for the tech community,  the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) confirmed its decision on 27th June concerning the compulsory mechanical rates which will be distributed to writers for 2018 – 2022.

The ruling includes a significant increase in the overall percentage of revenue paid to songwriters from 10.5% to 15.1% over the next five years, the largest rate increase in CRB history.

BASCA CEO, Vick Bain commented

“We are delighted that the US Copyright Royalty Board has seen fit to start addressing the great imbalance in streaming payments for songwriters and composers.  The current rate of payments for mechanical royalties set at 10.5% has been too low for too long.  Most writers struggle to make anywhere near a decent living on the actual money this actually means; especially once the money is split between co-writers and publishers.  In our own digital royalties campaign we have long called for a greater parity between the songwriter/publisher payments and that of artist/label.  We still believe a fair share is more than this; but an increase up to 15.1% of gross revenue is a firm step in that direction.  The US is a particularly large market for many UK writers and this will have a direct impact on their income streams”.

Here you can read more about the ruling

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