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New rules governing U.K. collection societies -- including the right of artists to be able to choose which society or licensing body manages their works -- have been published by the British government and will dictate how organizations such as PRS for Music and PPL are allowed to operate.

The regulations come into force on April 10 of this year and follow a European Union (EU) directive on “the collective management of copyright and multi-territorial licensing of online music" passed in 2014. That policy was one of a set of EU measures designed to improve the licensing of digital rights in Europe, make it easier for digital music businesses to operate across borders and ultimately looks to ensure rights holders ensure are properly remunerated for the use of their work.  

Key points of the directive include:  

-- Artists, song writers and rights holders can authorize a collecting society to manage their rights for the territory of their choice, irrespective of where they or the licensing body are based in the EU.

-- Regular, diligent and accurate payment to rights holders, that take place no later than nine months from the end of the financial year when rights revenue was collected.

-- Tighter financial and management monitoring for collecting societies, including providing rights holders with a full breakdown of any deductions and management fees from rights revenue.

-- Rights holders may grant licenses for any non-commercial use they choose.

-- A collective management organization must not make deductions - other than in respect to management fees.   

“This Directive is a cornerstone of the Digital Single Market. It will facilitate the entry of smaller innovative suppliers on the European market. It will also contribute to wider availability and better choice of offers of online music in Europe,” declared Commissioner Michel Barnier at the time of the Directive’s passing in 2014.  

In the U.K. the new regulations, produced in collaboration with licensing bodies and stake holders such as trade associations, supersedes a 2014 policy regarding collective licensing and follows a lengthy two-year consultation process. To aid collecting societies, the U.K. Intellectual Property Office has produced fresh guidance on implementing the “Collective Rights Management Directive.”

“AIM worked closely with IMPALA during the consultation preceding the implementation of the Collective Rights Management Directive,” said AIM (Association of Independent Music) CEO Alison Wenham in a statement to Billboard.

She continued: “We are satisfied that the regulations will ensure that best practice is at the heart of the CRM's across Europe, ensuring that rights holders are paid accurately and on time.”