2012 – AER’S KEY POINTS FOR A FRAMEWORK ON AUTHORS’ AND RELATED RIGHTS
Copyrights – Collective management
Radio is a constitutive element of the “creative content sector” – Radios are both rights holders and important rights users. Radio broadcasters across Europe pay over €2.6 billion per year for content, mostly music rights, and payment for these rights is negotiated on a regular basis. Radio is sound-only and its business model is not retail: Radio broadcasters need a sectoral approach to tackle issues related to management of right-protected works for sound-only usage.
Radio is online as much as offline: any framework should be technologically neutral and ensure blanket licences for all platforms – Commercially funded radios’ business-model is still mainly based on free-to-air FM radio broadcasting. However, with the development of new technology, radio must increasingly integrate new platforms and develop new offers to reach its traditional audience: programmes are being broadcast, streamed, webcast and offered on demand. For each new technology, an additional layer of fee tends to appear, with additional administrative cost even if dealt with by the same body. Furthermore, collecting societies for related rights do not seem to be in a position to provide radios with legal certainty for their online activities. This adds to the complexity of the rights payments radios dutifully abide by every year. To ensure clarity and fairness, online and offline fees should be carried out under a single blanket license fee, in a transparent manner.
Radio needs country-of-origin principle-based solutions for online distribution – For radios, easy-to-handle licensing is seen as a very positive step towards a true EU internal market, via fair competition amongst collecting societies and legal certainty for radios in their online activities. Even in an online environment, commercially funded radios are targeted at local, regional or national audience. They would consequently make use only of one license valid in all territories where their target audience can pick up the programmes (country-of-origin-principle). This could be facilitated via a review of the Cable and Satellite Directive (Directive 93/38/EEC), or a dedicated new regulatory instrument. Such a solution will foster better conditions for both rights holders and users. Compulsory multi-territorial licenses do not reflect radio business models and would lead to additional unsustainable costs.
Radio needs collective management of rights – An important element for radio’s development on the internet is the ability to provide listeners with time-shifted / on-demand programmes and programme extracts. The music contained in programmes made available on-demand entails obtainment and clearance of exclusive related rights. The multiple rightholders have to be identified, asked for permission, and remunerated. This is a task that cannot practically be undertaken by radios. Collecting societies have the expertise to fulfill this task – they already do so in the offline and online world for linear uses. At least the licensing of such rights for on-demand programmes with only accessory parts of protected music (e.g. reports or interviews with some background music) should be enabled through mandatory collective management of rights.
Radio needs access to the global repertoire – For online uses, important parts of the global repertoire are being divided per publishers, and withdrawn from collecting societies’ offer across Europe, due to market movements. With this development, commercially funded radios are bound to address different entities in order to provide their audiences with a full range of music styles. This entails higher costs, more complexity and, eventually, inability to play certain music. For radio, it is essential to ensure that all collecting societies are able to license access to the global repertoire, to ensure easy access for radios and fair competition amongst collecting societies.
Management of all collecting societies should be streamlined, more efficient and more transparent, enabling fair competition – Their tariffs should fulfill similar transparency requirements; any organisation providing access to music rights, on a domestic or multi-territorial basis, should publish their tariffs (including split costs of both, rights usage and administration fees), the licensing conditions, administrative requirements and the destination of the monies received. Furthermore, radios should be able to choose the proper offer from any collecting society, via fair competition on administrative fees. Dispute resolution mechanisms should be enabled as appropriate in every Member State in order to prevent abuse of a dominant position by any organisation providing access to music rights.
A rights user should be able to purchase whatever rights he requires for whatever purpose wherever he wishes to exercise them from any collective rights management organisation in the EU against clear, published, comparable tariffs.
Created in 1992, the Association of European Radios (AER) is a trade-association representing the interests of over 4500 private and commercial radio broadcasters across Europe to the EU institutions. It is the only organization representing only radio to the EU Institutions.
Vincent Sneed, AER Manager
vincent.sneed @ aereurope.org