Welsh music dispute heads to Tribunal

March 2013

Music publishing, broadcasting


The BBC is taking new Welsh language music collection society Eos to the Copyright Tribunal in a row about BBC radio royalties which began back in 2007 when the Welsh songwriters and music publishers were still members of PRS for Music. A three-way discussion between the BBC, PRS and the affected Welsh language music creators ensued and continued for a quite few years without resolution, until eventually over 300 Welsh-language creators and rights owners left the PRS and set up their own collecting society, Eos. There remains a ‘significant gap’ between what the musicians and publishers want, and what the BBC is prepared to pay, and currently BBC Welsh language programming is denied the use of the 30,000 songs is Eos’s database – previously core to BBC Welsh services – making it hard for the national broadcaster to meet Welsh language targets – and of course Welsh music isn’t being played on the BBC radio in Wales, meaning Eos songwriters and publishers are not getting paid.

Eos claimed they were being short-changed and the group has accused the BBC of conducting “sham” negotiations. The director of BBC Cymru Wales, Rhodri Talfan Davies, says the corporation is not trying to threaten Welsh language musicians in the dispute over royalties and the BBC now wants the Copyright Tribunal to resolve it’s row with Eos, and has even offered to contribute to the group’s legal costs to “ensure that Eos is able to put its arguments to the independent copyright tribunal which is the established legal process to resolve commercial disputes of this nature in a fair and binding manner”.

Eos chief executive, Dafydd Roberts, said the latest development was “disappointing” saying “We’ve taken legal advice …. so we’ll be considering our position in terms of a Copyright Tribunal. But what’s disappointing is that whilst we thought we were negotiating with the BBC on various terms, in fact all they were doing was preparing ground for the Copyright Tribunal”. Roberts said that Eos will consider allowing BBC Radio Cymru to play its members’ music pending any decision and it emerged that this was indeed the situation as negotiations continued, albeit with the Tribunal hearing looming on the horizon.



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