The members of the petitions committee of the German Lower House of Parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin have called for greater transparency and an improved information culture in GEMA's relations with its more than 60,000 members.

The committee invited the initiators of a petition with 106,000 online signatures to present their demands for a review of the legal principles underlying GEMA and comprehensive reform of the collection society.

According to petition initiator, Monika Bestle, managing director of the Kulturwerkstatt cultural center in Sonthofen (Bavaria), GEMA applies an unjust remuneration and accounting model which places "small members" with low GEMA income at an unfair disadvantage."

Bestle has campaigned against the rates small venues must pay to GEMA, as well as the distribution share of that money to lower income GEMA members, so her support has come from across the live business as well as performers.

"There is a 'black hole' [effect on] €300 ($370) to €750 ($925) in royalties for concerts, meaning that 90% of the takings remain with GEMA and only 10% are distributed to the members," she said in the meeting. With its present structure, she continued, 2,000 members with high incomes have more rights than the other 60,000 members with lower GEMA income.

Members of the petition committee criticized the German parliament for failing to act on a ruling by the highest court in the land, the Federal Constitutional Court, in 2005, imposing on GEMA the duty to implement greater transparency. Political parties SPD and Die Linke also criticized the government supervision, which they said was not performing its functions properly.

Max Stadler (FDP), parliamentary state secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Justice, confirmed at the meeting that there were "fundamental problems" in GEMA's accounting and remuneration model, which affected small and non-profit concert organizers in particular. Stadler called on GEMA to optimize its transparency and information policies.

"What we want to achieve is a radical restructuring of GEMA," said Bestle. "We have woken up the politicians on the petition committee and they now understand that a lot of things have to be changed at GEMA."

The petitions committee considers public responses and assesses whether legislation is working or needs to be re-examined.

"The disadvantages arising from GEMA's payouts particularly affect up-and-coming young composers and lyricists," said Ole Seelenmeyer, chairman of the German Rock & Pop Musicians Association (DRMV) in Lüneburg.

For the past 25 years DRMV in Lüneburg has represented 1,685 music groups, 195 labels, agencies and recording studios as well as 120 associations and 1,800 individual musicians.

"We have already initiated many reforms," said Dr. Harald Heker, the CEO of GEMA, in a statement after the meeting. "GEMA's supervisory board and its board of directors have already prepared a proposal for the next general meeting in June in Berlin to rise the number of delegates from 34 to 42."

The delegates represent and vote on issues affecting 'extraordinary' members - those with low incomes and only a short period of membership.