The dispute between Germany's IFPI affiliate and authors rights society GEMA is escalating. The chairman of the IFPI group, Gerd Gebhardt, today (March 19) canceled a roundtable discussion that had be

The dispute between Germany's IFPI affiliate and authors rights society GEMA is escalating. The chairman of the IFPI group, Gerd Gebhardt, today (March 19) canceled a roundtable discussion that had been planned for Monday in Berlin with GEMA chairman Reinhold Kreile and key music publishers. According to Gerbhardt, the IFPI is no longer convinced that Kreile represents the interests of all GEMA members.

The IFPI says it canceled the meeting in response to a letter Kreile recently wrote to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, complaining that the German industry's new digital music platform Phonoline has not signed a royalties agreement with authors and publishers. Schröder attended the launch of Phonoline on Thursday at the CeBIT computer exhibition in Hanover.

"I had sent out invitations to a roundtable for Monday in an attempt to solve the problems on a mutually acceptable basis," Gebhardt says in a memo obtained by Billboard.biz. "Following GEMA's unprecedented letter to the German chancellor, the board of the phonographic associations feels that it has no alternative but to cancel this planned meeting."

The IFPI says GEMA is attempting to undermine the Phonoline project. "The members of the phonographic associations were not willing to accept a situation in which investments in the future of the music market, particularly for the benefit of the lyricists, composers and publishers, were disrupted by such public ploys," Gebhardt says.

IFPI Germany and GEMA are locked in battle over online tariffs. According to Gebhardt, GEMA is making "entirely unrealistic demands" for royalties from the new-media segment. Its proposals, says Gebhardt "are jeopardizing the music business of the future."

As previously reported, GEMA is also contesting the IFPI's proposal to have the royalty rate on sound recordings slashed to 5.6% from 9.009% of PPD (published price to dealers).