“Copyright” can be an off-putting word to many people because it often brings to mind lawyers, lawsuits and advocates fighting over rights. For those in the industry who just want to create, produce or distribute that form of art called music, listening to the often confusing conversations about complex ‘copyright’ issues can be frustrating.

But a Copyright Summit (to be held at Midem 2016, June 5) does not have to be confusing or frustrating. In fact, forget the word ‘copyright’ for a moment.

Instead think of building something… building a song with verses, chorus, bridge, lyrics, arrangements… building a recorded performance with drums, bass, guitars, vocals… building a business with ideas, plans, money, people… building a home by first laying the foundation.

Copyright is the foundation, the melody, the hook, the beat — the creator of the source of money meant to flow to each and every one of us who does business in music.

Over the past few years, new business models for licensing music and for processing data related to songs to meet digital demands are bearing fruit. They are meant to speed up the licensing process, ensure that billions of streams and downloads get accurately identified and then royalties get paid to the right people.

Last year the European Commission approved under competition laws for two of Europe’s largest authors’ rights societies — Germany’s GEMA and the U.K.’s PRS for Music — and the society in one of the most digitally-advanced countries, Sweden’s STIM, to:

  • Work together through a joint venture (JV) co-owned by these societies;
  • Combine their separate databases of information about the world’s songs into one database;
  • Provide through the JV four categories of services for themselves and for other collective rights organisations and certain publishers; and
  • Most significantly, set up shop to offer and negotiate licenses for digital uses, in multiple European countries, of all of the songs represented by the three societies plus the songs of other societies or certain publishers that want the benefits of these services.

This last part means that one entity will be offering multi-territorial European licenses that would cover somewhere between 60% and 80% of the songs used in Europe, which includes songs from outside Europe (like North America, Australia and Latin America).

Thus the International Copyright Enterprise (ICE), through separate entities, offers one-stop licensing (front office), invoicing and dispute resolution services (middle office) and data processing through which rights holders in songs are matched with recordings of those songs used by DSPs and others (back office).

Armonia, formed by several societies some years ago including France’s SACEM, Italy’s SIAE and Spain’s SGAE, continues to evolve. This evolution will be discussed during the Copyright Summit.

In Latin America, several music publishers and 15 LatAm societies came together to offer a one-stop process for digital service providers to license  rights in every Latin American territory excluding only Brazil and Mexico, with an independent third-party handling the processing. This unique arrangement will also be discussed during the Copyright Summit.

Meanwhile, new changes and potential changes made by governments can and will impact the flow of money. This year European Union countries were required to adopt laws to comply with the Collective Rights Management Directive, which outlines the ways that collecting societies representing songs, performance rights in recordings and other copyrighted works must operate to ensure transparency and fairness.

Yet to come is the European Commission’s expected proposal this fall addressing certain laws that protect internet service providers and other operators from liability for hosting or transmitting unlicensed copyrighted material under certain conditions — providing them with a “Safe Harbor.” Many people in the recording industry claim that this law gives unfair advantage to services hosting User-Generated Content, creating a “Value Gap.” Executives will discuss this concept at the Copyright Summit.

Of course, an update on activities under way in the US related to copyright laws will be part of the summit as well.

To kick off the summit, I hope to help you get a grasp for how these issues might affect your business operations whether you are creator, producer, distributor or service provider. I will give you tips on the kinds of questions you may want to ask not only during and after the Copyright Summit but during and after Midem.

Because the most successful entrepreneur and executive is the one who asks questions in the search of truth, who understands we must keep learning to perfect our art and our craft in a commercial world.


The Copyright Summit is a full day of conferences, in Midem’s main room (top photo), focused on the above topics, and more besides. Susan Butler will introduce the sessions, and moderate throughout the day. Check out the full programme here; and see you there!

About Author

Susan Butler is a business journalist and publisher, entertainment and tech attorney and published author. Through Butler Business & Media LLC, she writes and publishes Music Confidential.

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