Music publishing, recorded music
The UK has introduced new legislation that gives formal legal backing to the ‘minimum standards’ for collecting societies that were originally published by the Intellectual Property Office back in 2012 on the back of the government-commissioned Hargreaves Review of copyright laws.
The IPO minimum standards document sets out certain rules for UK collecting societies – including those that represent music rights owners where collective licensing applies – with regards transparency and complaints procedures, mainly with a view to protecting the interests of licensees, and trying to make the collective licensing process a little easier to understand. The IPO’s press relase says that new regulations for collecting societies will offer greater clarity for people using copyright works in their business: Pubs, bars and shops that require a licence to play music or schools who photocopy copyright material will find to find their legal rights easier to understand as changes to the law came into force on 6 April 2014: Last year UK collecting societies collected a total of £1 billion in licence fees for their members. Following discussions with Government, many collecting societies have already put in place their own Codes of Practice which set out minimum standards of transparency and behaviour, as well as establishing a formal complaints procedure.
The music industry’s two collecting societies – the music publishing sector’s PRS For Music and the record industry’s PPL – both reviewed their codes of conduct in 2012, ensuring they were in line with the minimum standards, so this week’s new law is unlikely to have any resl impact, at least in the short term, though it does mean the IPO now has legal powers to enforce its collective licensing standards.
Commenting on the new law, IP Minister James Younger said: “Any efforts that support self-regulation should be welcomed and I am pleased to see the progress that collecting societies have made in agreeing minimum standards and setting their own codes of practice. The additional backstop power that has come into force today is there to make sure those standards are met and to give businesses the certainty and clarity that they need”.
Meanwhile Kevin Fitzgerald of the British Copyright Council, which has been involved in identifying standards for the collective licensing domain, both pre and post Hargreaves, added: “I warmly welcome the announcement that the government’s regulations on codes of practice for collecting societies have now become law. I am sure that the positive and collaborative approach taken by the industry has helped to bring about this smooth conclusion to the legislative process. The minimum standards already adopted by collecting societies and now underpinned by law, are an important step that will strengthen our industry. Good governance is good news for collecting societies and for the economy as a whole”.