Harald Heker has been appointed to succeed Reinhold Kreile as chairman of German authors' rights society GEMA.

Harald Heker has been appointed to succeed Reinhold Kreile as chairman of German authors' rights society GEMA, effective Jan. 1, 2006.

Heker will join GEMA as the third member of its management board, alongside deputy chairman/chief legal officer Jürgen Becker and financial chief Rainer Hilpert. The trio will jointly oversee GEMA for 12 months, after which Heker will assume sole responsibility for the society.

"GEMA must of course adapt to the growing pace of these changing times. It faces major challenges," Heker tells Billboard.biz. "Indeed, the future of collection societies in the single European market is a matter of major proportions."

Until recently, Heker was managing director of the German Federal Book Industry Assn. in Frankfurt. An expert in copyright law, Heker began his career as an attorney in 1988. He held the post of managing director of the Institute of Copyright and Media Law in Munich until 1991, after which he joined the German Federal Book Industry Assn. as chief legal officer. There he replaced Becker, who moved on to take up a position at GEMA.

At the end of this year, Kreile will retire from GEMA after 15 years. The 75-year-old executive is also president of BIEM, the trade body representing European societies collecting mechanical rights, and is on the board of directors of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers.

Founded in Jan. 14, 1903, GEMA was the first authors' rights society in Germany to be formed as a legal and financial entity. In 2003, the Berlin-based society collected income of more than €800 million ($1 billion) and distributed €700 million ($900 million) to its 60,000 members.

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