France has displaced the United States as the international territory generating most rights for Spanish songwriters, says Madrid-based national authors' body SGAE.

According to figures released simultaneously in Madrid and at the MIDEM trade fair in Cannes, last year SGAE collected just over €4 million ($5.9 million) from France, up 6.7% on 2006. The increase was due to a widespread "greater use of repertoire by SGAE authors in France," says SGAE corporate affairs director Paco Galindo. SGAE claims to represent nearly 80,000 members.

The U.S. had been the main source of overseas rights income for the SGAE in the two previous years, but the combination of a weak dollar against the euro and a falling physical music sales market saw U.S. rights income for SGAE members drop to just below €4 million ($5.9 million).

SGAE's total authors' rights collected outside Spain came to €24.7 million ($36.3 million), an increase of 0.44% over 2006. Galindo says that the upward trend continues, following a 1.95% rise in 2006 and a 7.6% increase in 2005.

The improving economy in saw that market to climb one place to third on the list. The €2.6 million ($3.8 million) collected by SGAE in Argentina was €468,000 ($689,300) more than in 2006 -- the biggest increase by any single country.

There was also a notable increase in collected rights from Belgium, Portugal and Poland. Galindo says that "is especially due to an improvement in the tracking and control of authors' rights by SGAE's International Department."

Mexico was the fourth highest source of overseas rights income at €2.1 million ($3.1 million), followed by Italy, Germany, Portugal, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.