COPYRIGHT
Internet, music publishing, record labels
ARTICLE
By Tom Frederikse, Solicitor, Clintons

A new licence for “podcasting” has been launched by the MCPS-PRS Alliance. The scheme is intended to help legitimise the use of musical compositions in podcasts, which, until last week, had to be cleared in each instance by the relevant publisher. The licence has only just been made available (though it may be backdated to 1 January 2006) and this version can run only until 31 March 2007. The licence covers use of Alliance-controlled works in a “podcast” (defined as a digital programme offered “on-demand” in which individual musical tracks cannot be extracted from the podcast as a whole) and fills one of the existing holes in the Joint Online Licence.

The licence itself extends to 48 pages and is notable for the many provisions explaining exactly what it is not. Among the exclusions, it does not cover music used in connection with advertising, public performance, karaoke, or any graphic or physical copies such as CDs. It does not even cover podcasts unless each track within the podcast has the first and last 10 seconds obscured (with speech or a station ID), the music amounts to less than 80% of the total time, the podcast is longer than 15 minutes and uses no more than 3 tracks from one album and no more than 4 by one artist, no track markers are inserted and the podcast is made available only in its entirety.

The royalty rate is the greater of 12% of gross revenue or a minimum fee of 1.5 pence per full-track and 0.75 pence per half-track (less than 50% by duration), and a quarterly advance is required. An annual minimum threshold of £400 also applies so services that generate less than £400 each year should use the “Limited Online Exploitation Licence” which is significantly cheaper. It should be noted that, whilst this scheme covers use of musical compositions controlled by the MCPS-PRS Alliance, podcasters may also need licences from the relevant record companies (and/or from AIM, which also recently launched its own podcast licence) for the use of the sound recordings in their podcasts. PPL currently offers no podcast licence.

Further information on the Alliance podcast licence can also be found at: http://www.mcps-prs-alliance.co.uk/aboutUs/. Further information on the AIM podcast licence can be found at:http://www.musicindie.org/news_show.asp?id=46.

The MCPS-PRS Alliance has also signed a global (excluding North America) licensing deal with Skype for ringtone and messaging services. Composer and publisher rights can now be cleared (on a song-by-song basis) through a one-stop shop. This is the first MCPS-PRS licence in line with the European Commission’s recommendations on collective licensing. See www.mcps-prs-alliance.co.uk

And a number of labels, technology companies and publishers have joined forces to form the Digital Data Exchange(DDEX or “dee-dex”) to standardise digital music data. The initiative is designed to tackle the increasingly complex and costly back-office systems of all parties involved in the digital retail supply chain. The aim is to improve efficiency and consistency in areas such as sales data, royalties and copyright information. Companies involved include all the major labels, Apple, RealNetworks, Microsoft, MCPS-PRS, ASCAP and the Harry Fox Agency.

www.digitaldataexchange.com and http://www.mcps-prs-alliance.co.uk/link/main.asp?pid=4812&sid=112

Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters. Where reference is made to Court decisions facts referred to are. The Clintons website can be found at www.clintons.co.uk. The article by Tom Frederikse is for general guidance only and is © 2006 Clintons.