Both BASCA as an organisation and its members submit responses to many consultations which will have a direct impact on the income streams and working conditions of all music writers. Here is an overview of the consultations we have responded to this past year:
BBC White Paper
The Government’s BBC White Paper has finally been published after 9 months’ of consultation with BASCA supportive of the majority of its recommendations. Full report here
CEO Vick Bain states “Overall the vast majority of the recommendations coming out of this white paper are positive, constructive and to be welcomed by composers and songwriters of all genres. We were one of approximately 300 expert organisations feeding into this consultation and are pleased to see many of our wishes supported and our concerns addressed. There appears to be a strong acknowledgement of how valuable this great institution is and protecting what it is good at whilst bringing in governance changes which should hopefully mean greater value for taxpayers. However the devil is always in the detail and we will remain vigilant as to the actual consequences of these changes particularly with regard to composers and songwriters”. Highlight points from the white paper include: transparency, governance, distinctiveness and purpose, as well as partnership and diversity. Read more
Collective Right Management Directive
Music creators will benefit from the Collective Management of Copyright (EU Directive) Regulations 2016 that came into effect in the UK on Sunday April 10th. BASCA joins PRS for Music in welcoming the new Regulations which will improve the way songwriters and composers in Europe, who use Collective Management Organisations (CMOs), have their works managed. BASCA submitted responses to the development of these Regulations over a number of years and we welcome the protection and standards they enshrine. BASCA recognises that PRS for Music already hold the gold standard for collective management processes and welcome this European wide legislation.
Vick Bain BASCA CEO commented: “This is a great achievement for songwriters and composers across Europe. This legislation ensures the exclusive assignment of the performing right remains with the writer, never anyone else, and that a greater degree of accuracy, transparency and control is stipulated for writers through their CMOs.” Read more
IPO on Copyright in Europe
In light of the European copyright reform agenda, the UK’s Intellectual Property Office made a Call for Views from stakeholders regarding Copyright in Europe. BASCA was pleased for this opportunity to stress the importance of a strong copyright framework in an integrated digital single market, where such a market seek to maximise safe exploitation and protection of songwriter rights.
BASCA called for more clarity of key legislative provisions of the European Directives which are not understood in the same way in different Member States; the safe harbour provisions in the E-Commerce Directive being a prime example. Such discrepancies render difficult the homogeneous enforcement of copyright internationally. Read more
EU Online Platforms
In December 2015, the European Commission launched a consultation on the regulatory environment for platforms, online intermediaries, data and cloud computing and the collaborative economy. BASCA welcomed this opportunity to highlight the social and economic impact of online platforms and services, and how they affect the online market and the businesses underpinning them.
Indeed, the recent technological changes have caused a transfer of value where digital service providers are exploiting the work of creators where revenue generated by the availability of creative content exclusively benefits the digital service providers and deprives the creators of fair remuneration for their work. This also creates an unbalanced situation within the online marketplace itself, where unlicensed platforms unfairly compete with those platforms that do comply with their legal obligations.
BASCA believes there is an urgent need to clarify the application of the hosting defence, leading to clearer delineations in the definitions, roles and activities of online players so that it is clear which parties fall under the scope of the safe harbour legislation, removing the availability to exploit ambiguities in terminology such as ‘mere host’. These clarifications also need to be accompanied by a higher threshold and duty of care for online platforms since enforcement still remains a heavy burden and wack-a-mole exercise for creators and their representatives. Read more
Collective Rights Management – UK Implementation
In March 2015, following the adoption of the Collective Rights Management (CRM) Directive in Europe, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) sought views on how the UK should implement the Directive. See here
The CRM Directive aims to modernise and improve the functioning of collective management organisations, and encourage the multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online use. We submitted an organisational response and are hopeful that this process will lead to more clarity throughout Europe on collective rights management.
BASCA supports the revocation of existing legislation to ‘copy out’ the text of the Directive into UK Law. However, due to the nature of CMOs and their inability to absorb costs, some concerns were expressed over the sanctions regime since any sanctions on the CMO will be a financial burden to their members; any sanctions should therefore be appropriate and proportionate. Read more
House of Lords – Online Platforms
In October 2015, in light of the European legislative focus on portability, the House of Lords’ Select Committee on the European Union placed a Call for Evidence on behalf of the Internal Market Sub-Committee. The call addressed platforms and the EU digital single market strategy.
BASCA took this opportunity to call for more clarity on the scope of the definitions and obligations under the safe harbour provisions in the E-Commerce Directive. Indeed, BASCA believes there has been scope-creep by content platforms relying on these provisions to avoid any licensing obligations and liability for infringement. This creates an uneven situation where legally compliant services compete for audiences with illegal, unlicensed services who do not meet their legal obligations.
This is why BASCA is calling for better enforcement and monitoring of the online market, and for an effective take down and stay down system. This also needs to be accompanied by more clarity and data transparency regarding origin, usage and revenue generation. Read more
BBC Charter Renewal Consultations
BASCA was pleased to join in the UK Music effort co-ordinating with the industry for a BBC-supportive campaign: ‘Let it Beeb‘.
After an initial consultation by the BBC Trust in October 2014 regarding the Music Radio Services, a string of consultations were launched over the summer of 2016 formally initiating the BBC Charter Renewal process. Through these various submissions, BASCA was able to express its support for a strong and independent BBC, welcoming the BBC’s ability to take risks in commissioning distinctive and highly innovative content.
However, because of this unique role, the BBC needs to lead by example, providing more clarity over its systems, and maintaining fair trading principles are upheld internally and externally; this includes ensuring an ethical supply chain for content provision is safeguarded and protects every creator or professional within this production line. Read more
IPO Harmonising Offences Consultation
In August 2015, BASCA responded to the IPO consultation on changes to the penalties for offences under Sections 107(2A) and 198(1A) of the CDPA. Consultation on harmonising sanctions for online and physical IP crimes to a maximum of 10 years. BASCA took this opportunity to support the proposal to increase the maximum custodial sentence available under Sections 107(2A) and 198(1A) of the CDPA for commercial scale online copyright infringement from two to ten years’ imprisonment. BASCA believes that this harmonisation will reflect the equal seriousness of the offences, and align the available penalties across copyright offences with other IP rights such as registered designs and trademarks. This is an important step for the valuation of online copyright works and the perception of both offences with the same seriousness. Read more
Julia Reda Call for Evidence
Early 2015, German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda was tasked by the European Parliament to draft a report for the Legal Affairs Committee to evaluate current copyright rules. This report will ultimately feed into the European Copyright Reform proposals. In February 2015, Reda called upon creatives for their opinion as she felt that their voices were not being heard over those of the industry.
In its response, BASCA therefore emphasised the importance of respecting authors’ rights, especially in terms of remuneration of authors and guaranteeing the legitimacy of content sources in the online market. Strong copyright are vital for creators to maintain control over their works and is the mechanism which allows them to earn their livelihood from their work.
After submitting its response, BASCA was pleased to see amendments brought to Reda’s final draft report. Read more
On the PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA Joint Venture
In March 2015, the European Commission personally sought BASCA’s input on the proposed joint venture between GEMA, PRS for Music Limited and STIM.
The proposed joint venture would be a centralised licensing and processing hub which at granting and administering multi-territorial and multi-repertoire licences of mechanical and performing rights in musical works for online and mobile exploitation to multi-territorial online services.
BASCA expressed its support of this JV as it believes this would enhance the organisations’ role in ensuring the best interest of songwriters and composers by creating a fair level of collective bargaining power which will enable the parties to the JV to negotiate licences with digital service providers. Read more
Safe Harbours and Mike Weatherley MP
In January 2015, Mike Weatherley MP, Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, sought views on the role of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in IP protection and the safe harbour provisions of the E-Commerce Directive. BASCA responded and was given the opportunity to input into the draft report. This was a valuable opportunity to call for fair remuneration from ISPs for the work of songwriters and composers, as this is essential to their ability to sustain their professional careers. Moreover, BASCA called for the continuing need for clarity in terms of the scope of the safe harbour provisions. BASCA maintains that content platforms should not be able to benefit from the safe harbour provisions, indeed they benefit from others’ creativity and knowingly link to and host infringing copyright works. Crucially, BASCA reminded the vital need for the creation of a quick and effective process to help permanently remove infringing content from these platforms, not just specific links. Read the reports here.
BBC Music Radio Services Consultation
The aim of the consultation was to collect individual’s views on the radio services and programming offered by Radio 1, Radio 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 3, 6 Music and Asian Network services. The findings, published early 2015, will feed into wider discussions during the BBC charter renewal negotiations later this year.
BASCA took this opportunity to express its support of the BBC, commending the range of music services and genre focused programmes, and the opportunities it offers to its members and musicians worldwide. However, BASCSA did express some concern over the trend in staff and budgetary reductions suffered by the BBC and their impact on the current commissioning abilities of the BBC. Read More
UN Cultural Right’s Group – The Impact of Intellectual Property Regimes on the Enjoyment of Right to Science and Culture
In June 2014, UN Cultural Right’s Group launched a consultation into the impact of Intellectual Property regimes on the enjoyment of the right to science and culture. This consultation sought to assess the right of people to enjoy and access cultural heritage and the benefits of science and its applications without discrimination. The Special Rapporteur Farida Shaheed wished to collect information on the challenges regarding the implementation of the right of everyone to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which they are the author.
In its response, BASCA stressed the importance of fair remuneration for authors, both in the analogue and digital markets, highlighting the cost of access to and of sustaining a musical career. Strong copyright protection is therefore essential to maintaining the livelihood of songwriters and composers, safeguarding their rights and revenue against any abuse or piracy. Read more
In March 2014, the UK Department for Education launched a consultation on Savings to the education services grant for 2015, 2016.
BASCA emphasized the need for a continuation of funding for music education hubs which rely on local authority funding, highlighting that any further reduction in funding may jeopardise the successfully delivery of the National Plan for Music Education. Read more
EU Consultation on Copyright Rules
The objective of the consultation was to gather input from all stakeholders on the review of the EU copyright rules in March 2014, to inform the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy and any regulatory proposals.
BASCA welcomed this opportunity to support a harmonised, digital European market that offers cross border licensing to paying users. In this respect, the support CMOs offer to individual songwriters in entering negotiations on their behalf is essential, this guarantees the creators’ role in the music value chain is guaranteed and remunerated through fair and accessible licensing schemes. Finally, BASCA emphasised the importance of guaranteeing moral rights are respected, this includes an author’s right to give permission for the work to be used, to protect the integrity and ownership of their works. Read more
DCMS enquiry into Arts Council Funding
In its consultation response, BASCA observed that Arts Council England plays a crucial role in supporting the development and realisation of new music; its funding helps to make the music industry a success for UK plc and receives more in return than it gives out; that the impact of their funding criteria has substantial impact on composers and that their involvement in music education is vital. Results can be found here
HMRC – consultation on National Insurance and self-employed entertainers
In August 20113, HMRC was seeking views on the National Insurance regime for self-employed entertainers. BASCA was eager to emphasise the need for more clarity in this area, calling for a fairer regime for musicians who are akin to freelance agents and should not have the same financial liability as employers when commissioning session musicians or orchestras for example.
BASCA agreed that such a system would not require the creation of a more complex NI system, and that musicians should receive a self-employed status, treating freelance music professionals like other self-employed individuals. Read more
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