Newly proposed draft legislation by the European Commission designed to enhance cross-border digital licensing, streamline societies' royalty collection and combat piracy has been criticized by artists' lobbying body Younison, which represents members of Radiohead and Pink Floyd, among others, according to a Reuters report.
The proposed EU framework directive on Collective Rights Management (CRM) -- scheduled to be presented in Brussels today (July 11) -- sets out guidelines for the speedier distribution of collecting societies' revenues on behalf of copyright holders.
According to an earlier Reuters story, measures contained in the draft legislation include:
· Collection societies must disperse revenue to rights holders within 12 months after the track was played, approximately half the time that companies currently have in many European countries.
· More clarity on the fees musicians must pay the societies collecting their dues from radio stations or websites streaming their work.
· If artists cannot get a collection society to license their work in multiple countries, they will be allowed to grant their own licenses, following the U.S. business model.
· New guidelines for collecting societies to separate royalty revenues from investments. Societies will also become subject to supervision by composers and other musicians who hold the intellectual property rights.
· Societies will be granted permission to keep royalties that have not found their rightful artists after five years. According to Younison, "hard to distribute" collections amount to more than €5 billion at present (approx $7.75 billion).
"Collecting societies should be required to invoice service providers and to distribute amounts due to rights-holders without delay," the draft is reported to say.
EU regulators are said to blame "poor financial management of collecting societies' revenues" for weakening copyright within the European Union and helping to make Europe prime ground for copyright infringing websites, thereby stifling legitimate growth in the digital music market, according to Reuters.
As Reuters noted, the proposed draft law has, nonetheless, been attacked by some artist bodies for falling short of protecting their interests, including in a letter sent by artists' lobby Younison sent by director Kelvin Smits and signed by Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, Radiohead's Ed O'Brien among others.
A statement on the Younison official website entitled "Draft CRM Directive fal ls short for artists," said the following: "Except for the exploitation of online music... the directive ignores all our demands and ensures that in the digital era, the archaic and opaque redistributions systems are institutionalized." Younison goes on to criticize the proposed EU directive for a lack of transparency and accountability, except for online collection, where collecting societies will be pressed to deliver annual, detailed information sheets on revenue streams. It also opposes the proposition of collecting societies being granted "the right to hold on to all collected money (except online) for 24 months after it is collected," as well as the omission of conditions or limitations on the amounts that societies can deduct for cultural and social purposes.
The EC bill was, however, welcomed by Robert Ashcroft, chief executive at PRS for Music, which represents the rights of 90,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the U.K. and distributed £557.2 million ($865.2 million ) in 2011 to its members (royalties are paid out quarterly and take an average of 6 months to reach members, according to PRS for Music).
"The Commission has outlined a new framework for consistent and high standards for transparency and accountability to the members that we welcome as the route to building further confidence in collective management," said Ashcroft in a statement.
"We also like the standards-based approach to data and processing capability to support multi-territory licensing, because it will provide the incentives for the market to develop and aggregate on a voluntary basis," Ashcroft went on to say.
The proposed EU framework directive requires approval from the European Parliament and the EU's 27 member countries before it is passed into law.