Russian Collection Societies Consolidate to Ease Royalty Process

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A set of three Russian babushka dolls

Russia’s three accredited collecting societies that deal with author and neighboring rights, have announced they are merging in a move that is set to simplify procedures for royalty collection. The new organization is to be called the culture professionals' union "Russia's Author Society."

A spokesperson for RAO (Russia's Author Society) tells Billboard that the new organization will be the successor to RAO, the state-approved authors’ rights collecting society, VOIS, which deals with neighboring rights, and RSP, which collects a one-percent tax on imports of electronic devices that can be used for copying content.

"Succession will be observed as far as responsibilities before rights holders and relations with licensees and users are concerned, and there will be no interruption of regular royalty collection operations," she said. "Distribution and paying out of royalties to rights holders will be done on time and in strict compliance with the law."

The merger is apparently going to make procedures easier for rights holders as they will no longer have separate agreements for author rights and performing rights royalties and will now deal with one collecting society rather than several. Similarly, rights holders registered with the new organizations will automatically collect their share of the copying equipment task.

In Russia, only state-approved collecting societies can legitimately operate. The appointment of VOIS as the country's sole collecting society for neighboring rights raised controversy back in 2009, and two other contenders, RFA and ROUPI, tried to question the decision in court, but the case went nowhere.