Rights issues were at the top of the agenda at the first day of Popkomm in Berlin.

A total of 15,000 exhibitors and trade visitors are expected, according to managing director Ralf Kleinhenz, although the opening day was a fairly relaxed start to the event.

Popkomm comprises an international music and entertainment business trade fair, conference and live music festival. Organizers say they are expecting 843 exhibitors from 50 countries, while the festival will feature 400 artists from 30 countries.

As reported earlier on Billboard.biz, Bee Gee Robin Gibb's keynote speech - as president of the collecting societies' umbrella group CISAC - was largely an attack on the European Commission's ruling that societies were restricting competition. The decision in July has created uncertainty for rights holders across Europe; CISAC confirmed today that it has lodged an appeal with the EU's Court of First Instance.

During the day's other keynote address, Petri Lunden - chairman of the International Music Managers Forum, the umbrella organization bringing together 15 managers' forums from across the world - warned record labels not to dabble in 360-degree deals unless they are fully committed to exploiting all rights.

Citing one of his acts whose deal with a major included a slice of live and merchandise rights, Lunden said "the band is earning a good living from touring, but the label has yet to see one penny from that side of the business" as the contract favored the artist.

"Don't get involved with these deals unless you know as much as the experts," he said. "I can't see anybody out there who can provide the perfect deal on all fronts."

In the address, moderated by Billboard International Bureau Chief Mark Sutherland, Lunden - who manages several acts as CEO of Sweden-based law, media and management company Hagenburg - also warned that new deals between artists and labels must reflect "trust and transparency" between the two parties.

"If the industry still wants to be part of the equation between artist and audience, we need to get our shit together," he said. "Because the artists and the audience are engaging in new ways every day, and they aren't afraid."

The session on collecting societies followed Gibb's remarks and brought out further questions on the emerging competition between societies across Europe. Some argued for a market-led solution, while others preferred EU legislation to act as a framework.

Cees van Rij, director legal affairs and business development Buma/Stemra in the Netherlands, rebuffed Gibb's claim that there would be a "race to the bottom on royalty value" among societies. The Dutch society has been involved in a legal battle with the U.K.'s PRS on jurisdiction for licences.

"You would see a competition among societies on services and not on the level of royalties," he said. "There is no race to the bottom. Let's do away with that myth, it does not exist." Others were more critical or ambivalent about the EC ruling, but accepted the need for change.

"Where I think it could work better is looking at the membership agreements of the societies," said Jane Dyball, international legal and business affairs at Warner/Chappell Music in the U.K.

The 'Secondary Ticketing - Curse or Blessing?' session often featured Daniel Nathrath on the defensive, in his role as country manager GAS for ticket exchange site Viagogo in Germany. The question of rights was again central, as the panel debated what rights a ticket gave a fan and whether that included selling it on.

There were calls for a cut of the secondary ticket market for promoters and artists. But Nathrath gave a robust defence of Viagogo's business. "It's a basic principle of any legal environment, unless you're in Zimbabwe, that if you've paid the full price, you can do with the ticket what you want," he said.