After a 17-year feud, French rights societies Adami and Spedidam agreed June 10 to form a joint society to administer, collect and distribute royalties on behalf of their members. The alliance, which

PARIS -- After a 17-year feud, French rights societies Adami and Spedidam agreed June 10 to form a joint society to administer, collect and distribute royalties on behalf of their members.

The alliance, which has been in the works since 2002, does not go so far as to merge the two societies, which remain separate entities. For the time being, Adami and Spedidam will continue to manage their own legal, international and artistic affairs. However, it is thought that the societies could merge completely in the future.

According to the agreement, the organizations will consolidate their collection, processing and payment operations by 2006. They have also agreed on a new split of royalties.

Since 1987, the societies have argued about their respective roles. Adami has about 20,000 members, comprising musicians (generally solo artists) and professionals from theater, television and film. Spedidam's 25,000 members are solely from the music sector, and are generally musicians in groups such as orchestras.

The bulk of the revenues from both societies come from the blank-tape levy and from broadcasting rights charged to radio and TV stations and nightclubs for playing music. Both fees were introduced as part of France's 1984 copyright bill.

Adami had complained that Spedidam was collecting royalties that should have gone to Adami members. Adami has estimated that it is owed 67 million euros ($80.7 million) by Spedidam. As a gesture of goodwill, Adami now says it will settle for 7.5 million euros ($9 million).

Jean-Francois Dutertre, managing director of Adami, says the matter is insignificant compared with the benefits of the two societies "having reached an agreement on how rights should be distributed.

This means that, in music for example, we'll be able to pay according to the number of artists involved in a given track. It makes things much more simple."

Adami president Pierre Santini says that from now on artists and performers "will rediscover the unity they should never have lost. They can now together face the difficult coming battles over the defense of their rights in the digital age."