Russia Punts Major Changes to Its Royalty Collecting Orgs
Russia has chosen to avoid drastic changes to the country's collecting industry, making just minor amendments to the existing legislation as opposed to previously considered plans.
The State Duma, the lower chamber of Russian Parliament, has adopted in the first reading amendments to the Civil Code, which deal with organizations operating in the royalty collecting industry sector.
Under the amendments, all organizations involved in collecting copyright fees will mandatorily have to disclose their accounting and audit data on their web sites and every rights holder will be entitled to have access to all information related to their fees online.
While the measures are expected to answer rights holders' calls for more transparency in the industry, actively voiced over the last few years, they still fall short of more drastic scenarios that some government agencies considered for the sector.
Under one abandoned proposal, all rights holders would have to sign direct agreements with collecting societies, and under another, the existing collecting societies would be replaced with a single, state-run collecting agency.
Meanwhile, Russian collecting society welcomed the adoption of the amendments.
"We fully support the amendments proposed by the culture ministry," Andrei Krichavsky, general director of collecting societies RSP and VOIS, told Billboard. "On the one hand, this is an opportunity to improve transparency and efficiency of the entire collecting industry," he went on to say. "On the other hand, this is another step towards the modernization of the industry."
The need for reform in Russia's collecting segment became acute a year ago, when the previous management of RAO, the state-approved authors' rights collecting society, was accused of funneling large amounts of money out of the organization.
As the probe is still in progress and RAO's former general director Sergei Fedotov remains in jail, the new management has announced steps aimed at cleaning up the organization's reputation.