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The Music Modernization Act has been unanimously passed by the United States Senate, meaning an overhaul of music licensing legislation is soon to occur.

The Modernization act includes the CLASSICS Act, which guarantees artists and labels who recorded music before 1972 a federal right to be paid for those recordings when played by digital radio outlets.

Mitch Glazier, President, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said: “As legendary band the Grateful Dead once said in an iconic pre-1972 song, ‘what a long strange trip it’s been.’ It’s been an epic odyssey, and we’re thrilled to almost be at our destination.

“For the modern U.S. Senate to unanimously pass a 185-page bill is a herculean feat, only achievable because of the grit, determination and mobilization of thousands of music creators across the nation.

“The result is a bill that moves us toward a modern music licensing landscape better founded on fair market rates and fair pay for all. At long last, a brighter tomorrow for both past and future generations of music creators is nearly upon us. We are indebted to the leadership of Senators Hatch, Grassley, Feinstein, Alexander, Coons, Kennedy and Whitehouse for helping get us there.”

Click here for some further reading.


The European Parliament has voted to support the Copyright Directive, with a landslide victory of 438 votes in favour, 226 against and 39 abstentions. BASCA has been instrumental in making this happen. We have campaigned to bring about a fair copyright environment that stops big tech hiding behind ‘safe harbours’ to avoid taking out a licence and ensure that creators get more transparent and equitable payments.

Ahead of the vote, BASCA and the UK music industry launched major campaign ‘#LoveMusic’ to help fight for the best possible future for everyone who works in the industry and who relies on music to make a living.

Commenting on the success, Chair of BASCA Crispin Hunt said:

“This is a significant victory for music, for journalism, for photography; indeed for art of any kind. The Directive will help re-balance the digital market for music, providing an online framework to ensure the internet once again runs on competition as opposed to oligopoly.

Active platforms like YouTube are now obliged to properly license our work and at a competitive, negotiable, market rate. YouTube is the biggest and arguably the best streaming service on the planet, now it should have to pay like one.

The fight is not over by a long shot, but this victory is a milestone in our movement’s goals. BASCA led the way in this endeavour and was hugely instrumental in the global campaign to re-assert creativity’s sovereignty over those platforms that exploit our work without paying creators fairly. This is a demonstration of the power of our collective voice – join us to strengthen our voice. Congratulations one and all.”

Graham Davies, Interim CEO of BASCA, has commented:

“Creators are powerful when they come together. BASCA mobilised the music creative community and their voice has been listened to. Working with our industry partners we have brought about significant victory. This is the start. We ask more creators to join our movement and strengthen our voice asking for positive change.” 



Use of protected content by information society service providers storing and giving access to large amounts of works and other subject-matter uploaded by their users:

  1. Information society service providers that store and provide to the public access to large amounts of works or other subject-matter uploaded by their users shall, in cooperation with rightholders, take measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rightholders for the use of their works or other subject-matter or to prevent the availability on their services of works or other subject-matter identified by rightholders through the cooperation with the service providers. Those measures, such as the use of effective content recognition technologies, shall be appropriate and proportionate. The service providers shall provide rightholders with adequate information on the functioning and the deployment of the measures, as well as, when relevant, adequate reporting on the recognition and use of the works and other subject-matter.
  2. Member States shall ensure that the service providers referred to in paragraph 1 put in place complaints and redress mechanisms that are available to users in case of disputes over the application of the measures referred to in paragraph 1.
  3. Member States shall facilitate, where appropriate, the cooperation between the information society service providers and rightholders through stakeholder dialogues to define best practices, such as appropriate and proportionate content recognition technologies, taking into account, among others, the nature of the services, the availability of the technologies and their effectiveness in light of technological developments.

The UK Music industry has united to call on EU members of parliament to secure music’s future. 

Ahead of a crucial vote at the European Parliament on 12 September on the Copyright Directive, which aims to boost the tiny amounts that some tech firms pay out of their enormous profits for music played online, UK Music has launched the #LoveMusic

UK Music is fighting for the best possible future for everyone who works in the music industry and who relies on music to make a living. There are some people and tech firms out there trying every trick in the book to block a change that would mean a fairer deal for pretty much everyone in the UK music business.

We need your help to stop that happening and to ensure musicians, creators and everyone in our world-beating music industry are not denied a fair reward for their work. We ask you to sign the petition to support music creators and make the internet fair.

You can read more about the campaign and watch the video below.

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.”

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”. 



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.


In response to the proposed Music Modernisation bill by Representative Doug Collins, BASCA Chairman, Crispin Hunt has stated the following:

“As you may know, Representative Doug Collins has recently proposed an act that is currently going through congress and the senate called the US Music Modernisation Act.
Though the premise of this act is warmly welcomed by BASCA, the practice presents songwriters with reason for concern. BASCA initiated a conversation with ECSA (the European Composer & Songwriter Alliance), and have jointly written to Representative Collins to express our concerns and offer our engagement in addressing some of the issues presented by the bill.
As the US is possibly the UK’s largest market, this bill will affect UK (and sadly, EU) writers’ and composers’ income streams in the future – and so it is essential that our voice is heard and appropriate amendments are made to the bill to fine tune it, so that it doesn’t disadvantage non-US composers.”


ECSA and BASCA’s letter to Representative Collins was leaked online and can be read below:

Dear Representative Collins,

We write you from the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance, Europe’s largest songwriter’s organisation representing creators from 27 European countries. Our British member BASCA, copied to this letter, who represents songwriters such as Sir Paul McCartney, Coldplay or Annie Lennox encouraged us to contact you in a matter of mutual concern.

We learnt that you proposed a new bill – the Music Modernization Act – which shall, in essence, establish a new collective licensing entity providing a blanket license for the mechanical right for online streaming services operating in the US. We are advised that whilst your bill does not expressly authorize the new collective from also licensing the performing nght, it also does not expressly prohibit the collective from doing so

As you may know, European repertoire accounts for up to 25% of the Top 100 songs played on US radio stations.1 We therefore follow with great attention copyright legislation in the US, being one of the biggest markets for European songwriters and we understand that the new collective licensing entity will also govern all foreign repertoires, including the European one

We join our US colleagues in believing that the reform of the music licensing process is and must continue to be an exceptionally high legislative priority – especially the need to raise music royalty rates to equitable levels to sustain the songwriter community.

Whilst there are many good points about 1he draft bill, we also join the views voiced by the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA) in an open letter to you dated 21 December 2017: there are a number of very serious problems set forth in the bill and in general we believe, that the bill rather favours the interests of the multi-national publishers, rather than those of individual, hardworking songwriters. Please allow me to respectfully remind you that the latter are the very justification of copyright law to exist as legal institution. In tum, publishers mainly represent their own interests, which are not necessarily congruent • with those of contracted songwriters.

Just by way of example, in Europe, collective management entities are governed by songwriters, who hold a 70% majority on boards of those entities. We cannot accept a concept that sets out that a board of directors of a new collective rights management entity, providing blanket licenses of mechanical rights for the entire US territory, which is governed by eight publishers versus only two songwriters who must be “self-published” at that. How can such an arbitrary governance structure ensure that the legitimate and vital interests of individual creators are well represented by vis-a-vis multi-billion publishing companies, particularly when there is no other oversight?

Respectfully, there are many other problems with the essential lack of fairness in the bill, which are too numerous to detail in a short letter. By example. one other obvious flaw is the distributing of unidentified monies on a market share basis. How can the market share, which in too many historical instances is acquired on dubious grounds in the first place, justify a blanket pay-out of un-matched royalties? Because the bill establishes a two-tiered system allowing major publishers to essentially opt-out of the collective with a direct license, the bill inexplicably distributes unidentified monies using the market

share of those publishers who will not otherwise be administered by the collective and will not likely be included in the pool of unidentified monies.

A few other questions that are of concern to songwriters: Where is the business plan for the collective? A century of practice is to be changed without even a business plan that the governed have a chance to review? And what justifies the denial of statutory damages? And how is the board of directors elected? Finally, why should companies directly licensing online music service providers be eligible for

membership on those boards? And how will cooperation with foreign CMO’s be handled, also in terms of data exchange? ·

We appreciate that the introduction of a bill is simply a first step. We trust that you will carefully review the bill andtake our views into account. We will do our best to provide you with a more detailed comment in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get back to us.

Thank you for your kind consideration.


The letter can be found on Artists Rights Watch, here.

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

McCartney follow ups

In the last Copyright Update, we covered Paul McCartney’s legal action with Sony/ATV, where Paul sued the publisher for the reversion of his rights over the Lennon & McCartney catalogue under American copyright law. Sony commented that this was “unnecessary and premature”.

As we were eagerly stretching our necks out for some courtroom drama/ground-breaking judgment, six months after Paul filed his suit, they quietly settled out of court.

Although the detail of the settlement remains confidential, we can speculate on a deal no less than the one Sony made with the John Lennon estate: Paul gets the rights back on his song catalogue, in return, Sony/ATV get to administer the rights and collect a fee.

As we previously reported, US copyright law grants songwriters the statutory right to terminate the assignment agreement 35 years after they sign away their rights, or 56 years for pre-1970s agreements. Since such right only came into effect in recent years, the details and technicalities remain under debate.

With this case being settled, many questions involving non-US contracts and songwriters remain unanswered: Can they reclaim such a right under the US law? Can non-US contracts interfere with the US statutory right?

To be fair, those answers really depend on the specific wording of the contract, so we may never find out (until the next case arises). Does it then mean that this US reversion right accounts for nothing to non-US songwriters? Take a look at the settlement — it certainly gives songwriters leverage in negotiation, and that’s something, right?

ISP liabilities

ISPs have been having a hard time and should be prepared for time will only get harder. By this I mean of course, only for the ones misbehaving and Google.

Pirate Bay

In our last coverage on the Filmspeler case, we learned that the European Court of Justice (CJEU) has loosened the definition of ‘indispensable intervention’ by ease on the notion of ‘indispensable’, as long as it falls within the scope of the Information Society (InfoSoc) Directive. This means the facilitating role of a service provider could also be deemed as an act of communication to the public.

This conclusion has once again been confirmed by a recent decision delivered by the CJEU.

Earlier this year, the Dutch Supreme Court had referred the Stichting Brein v Ziggo (also known as The Pirate Bay case) to the CJEU asking for its guidance on whether an indexing website like The Pirate Bay could commit a communication to the public? And whether the InfoSoc Directive allows the issuing of an injunction to block access to such a website? To both of the questions, CJEU answered in the affirmative.

In a press release issued in mid-June, it states that “the Court holds … the making available and management of an online sharing platform must be considered to be an act of communication for the purposes of the directive (InfoSoc Directive)”. Although no protected contents are available on The Pirate Bay website, there exists a system where metadata of copyrighted works is indexed and categorised for users for the purpose of downloading and uploading protected content. In this sense, the Pirate Bay operators are clearly committing a communication to the public and therefore an infringement of copyright.

With CJEU increasingly embracing a broader interpretation of what constitutes a Communication to the Public, we look forward to it to be extended to more future cases.

Google delisting

We’re on track for another piece of good news to further boost our morale. Canadian Supreme Court just issued a ruling in late June ordering Google to delist an entire website globally on the grounds of intellectual property infringement. The reason this decision was so broadly welcomed in the music industry is that, although right holders are able to issue take-down notices against links containing infringing content, it’s often the case that new webpages pop up shortly after. This is why we’ve been campaigning so hard for a “Notice and Stay Down” system instead of “Notice and Take Down”. This court decision for Google to delist a whole website on a global basis is, without doubt, a huge step forward for right holders around the world.


With all this recent good news flooding in, it is easier now to prove that hosting links to copyrighted works uploaded by third parties could lead to copyright infringement. The next big question is, how much damage was caused from online infringement activities?  How much are right-holders losing?

According to the latest decision (D.M. v APP, Microsoft, Sacem and others) from the Paris Court of Appeal, the answer is €2 per protected works. In case you are wondering the total loss, here’s a convenient formula invented by the court:

Number of Works Infringed    X    Total Views of Works    X   0.5    X    €2

And in this case, the total number added up to €13 million and a one-year prison sentence.

Combined with another decision (SFR and others v Association of cinema producers and others) French Supreme Court had made on 6 July 2017, where the court held that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Internet Browser Providers (IBPs) should cover the costs of blocking and filtering injunctions of infringing content, regardless of their lack of liability.

One of the reasons provided by the court is that, despite the lack of liabilities in some cases, ISPs and IBPs still make a profit by letting users access infringing sites and can afford to bear such costs, whereas right holders may not.

A clear signal is emanating from the above two cases: French court is taking a hard-line position in regards to ISP liabilities for online copyright infringement. It is in line with the new EU Copyright Proposal, which made a commendable attempt to address internet intermediaries’ liabilities and “Value Gap” in Article 13, and corresponding Recital 38.

EU Copyright Proposal

Speaking of the new EU Copyright Proposal, the CULT (Culture and Education) and ITRE (Industry, Research and Energy) Committees in the European Parliament have cast their votes on the tabled amendments in mid-July. A series of matters concerning author’s rights have reached a favourable yet compromised outcome. Articles regarding Value Gap were strengthened in both Committees, as well as the transparency obligation; the much controversial UGC exception was narrowed; an unwaivable remuneration right was introduced for authors and performers’ favour. What is worth noticing is that a rights reversion mechanism (very much resembling the US one) was adopted in the ITRE’s vote. Whether it can make its way to the final draft remains to be seen.

Mind you these are just advisory opinions to be taken into consideration for JURI (Legal Affairs) Committee’s final decision which will take place in October, unless further postponed.


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

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