Europe Looks To Get Rid Of Monopoly On Royalty Collection Societies

from the one-step-in-the-right-direction dept

There are all sorts of problems with copyright “collection” groups who are in charge of collecting royalties and distributing them out to content creators. However, at least in the US we have competition among a few different such collection agencies, with ASCAP and BMI being the big two, and SESAC being the new up and comer. However, over in Europe, they’ve set up monopolies with only a single collection agency in each country — meaning that if the collection society has ridiculous artist-damaging ideas, you’re stuck with them.

However, it looks like that may be about to change. A few people have sent in the news that Europe is looking to get rid of monopolies on copyright collection groups, meaning that there can be some competition among different groups to see who can serve an artist better. Of course, it’s still not clear that these groups are needed at all — as they mainly prop up an unnecessary and increasingly obsolete business model (compulsory licensing), but at least having some competition is better than none.

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Comments on “Europe Looks To Get Rid Of Monopoly On Royalty Collection Societies”

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Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Opt Out

As long as artists can opt out, collection societies shouldn’t hinder the future of unencumbered cultural works, which have the advantage that they can be performed without royalty.

There’s nothing worse than a radio station, disco, diner, or pub being sued or prosecuted by collection societies for broadcasting, streaming or performing the works of artists who aren’t its members.

Collection societies are obviously unhappy about artists who would bypass their expensive services, but if they believe they provide an indispensable service with a glorious future, then musicians, songwriters, performers and those who promote them through public performance of recordings shouldn’t be compelled to utilise their services.

Thus collection societies should compete with free, i.e. those artists who feel they’d do better without them.

nick says:

what competition?

Isn’t royalty collection one of those areas naturally suited to monopolies? Groups like ASCAP are only profitable and powerful enough to actually help artists if they are large enough to dictate terms on the market. What terms they are dictating is another story, but the monopoly is probably better than having to deal with hundreds of different groups representing different songwriters and composers. Any business can go to ASCAP and get a blanket license (meaning they can play any and all music of ASCAP members) for a fee. While we can quibble about the price of that fee, I’d seriously doubt that having to work out deals with multiple societies (to have access to the same amount of music) would save a licensee any money.

I’d also remind you Mike that although 2 groups are better than 1, ASCAP was sued under antitrust back in the 1950s and has been operating under a consent decree ever since, meaning they need to submit to judicial review for plenty of things (see the blanket license decision with Yahoo and AOL from a few weeks back). Plus, I’ve never heard of SESAC being the “up and comer.” ASCAP and BMI have about 95% of the market and have for years.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Re: what competition?

I think you might be missing part of the idea of competition between collection societies. What about competition between what collection societies are offering artists? That, to me, seems to be the most important issue, and the question of the ease and price of licensing is en extension of that (because, ultimately, that process should be helping artists).

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Many of us use ‘artist’ in the general sense to mean any producer of art, whether that art is in the composition of music, the writing of lyrics, the use of a musical instrument, vocal performance, or any other creative activity – however nuanced.

Even the author of an original blog post is an artist.

However, I must admit ignorance of the term ‘singwriter’. I deduce that it is a contraction of singer/songwriter?

For such a general audience as Techdirt it is probably best to expect more general interpretations of terms than those distorted meanings peculiar to specialist fields such as music licensing (which should be explained if you prefer them).

We’re common people discussing the impact of music licensing on common people. We’re not specialists discussing a specialist field from the specialist’s perspective using specialist jargon.

Given this, do you still believe Mike is ignorant?

Anonymous Coward says:

Monopoly is not the main problem.

The problem are:
a. licensees do not know what music they can perform. b. Also hardly any of the money collected go to the creators. c. Also the mechanics allegedly used to divide the money is not understood by anyone. d.The affiliated societies ares simply mutual admiration societies. No one society audits or claims anything, as if everything is rosy peach.

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