The SCPP, the French society in charge of royalty collections for music labels - including the four majors - saw a nearly 10 percent growth in income in 2011, up to €71.2 million from its 2010 level. This growth can largely be attributed to the rise of neighboring rights rates paid by privately-held and state-owned French radios stations as well as public places playing recorded music, as negotiated in the past year.
Rights holders received €57.9 million in 2011, down 10 percent from the previous year, a drop SCPP explains is due to an exceptional distribution of rights following the settlement of a four-year litigation with some TV channels in 2010. The end of the litigation resulted in four years worth of royalties being released at once last year, a number that reverted to normal in 2011.
Neighboring rights now represent around 15 percent of the French recording industry income, estimated Pascal Nègre, CEO of Universal France and president of SCPP, in a press gathering last week.
The percentage of income from digital downloads is also expected to increase, with SCPP having recently signed agreements to podcast shows by state-owned radio group Radio France, a deal which SCPP intends to pursue with other radio channels in 2012, including Internet radio stations. Digital downloads already represent around 10 percent of SCPP's income, said SCPP director general Marc Guez.
SCPP reiterated its support of the three-strike scheme adopted by independent body HADOPI, which is charged with encouraging compliance with copyright law over the Internet, in France in 2009. "It works!" said Pascal Nègre, referring to a Nielsen study claiming that the number of P2P users decreased by 2 million between 2009 and 2010 in France, while legal streaming services and legal download services attracted 800,000 and 1.2 million additional users respectively.
Guez revealed that copyright holders now had more difficulties in finding the 25,000 online infringements the law allows them to report daily to HADOPI, suggesting that the practice has decreased.
The debate on HADOPI has become a hot political topic with the French presidential elections approaching in April. In a conference last Thursday, President Sarkozy's principal rival François Hollande said that, if elected President, he would replace the HADOPI law, although he remained vague when discussing what he would do instead.