The Belgian society of performers welcomes the proposal for a new digital remuneration right

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By Chris Cooke | Posted on Monday, March 21, 2022

The collecting society that represents performers in Belgium has welcomed proposals from the country’s Council of Ministers to introduce a new digital remuneration right for performers as part of the implementation of the European Right copyright of 2019.

During the negotiation of this directive, a campaign was launched for European legislation to be amended in order to introduce a full fair remuneration right for performers linked to streaming, which would mean that at least part of the monies paid to the music industry by streaming services would go to artists through the collective licensing system.

Currently, frontline artists receive streaming royalties through their labels or distributors, subject to any agreement they have negotiated with that label or distributor, while session musicians are not cut off from streaming revenue at all. .

How ER works on streams has been the subject of much debate, but the larger principle of ER is of course well established – artists already receive royalties directly through their collecting societies when recordings on which they appear are broadcast or played in public.

This principle has not been used with streaming in most countries, with a few exceptions. ER is paid on custom radio services like Pandora and iHeartRadio in the US, and some streaming royalties already go through the collective licensing system for artists in Spain and Hungary.

In the end, the Copyright Directive did not introduce RO on streams across Europe, although Article Eighteen of the said Directive states that “Member States shall ensure that that when authors and performers grant a license or transfer their exclusive rights for the exploitation of their works or other protected subject matter, they are entitled to appropriate and proportionate remuneration”.

Most EU countries that have already implemented the directive have simply copied and pasted the essential parts of this article directly into their copyright laws, without actually changing anything, and thus assuming fundamentally that performers must already receive “appropriate and proportionate remuneration” under current legislation. system.

Although with this legal commitment, performers could now begin to lobby lawmakers at the national level that “appropriate and proportionate remuneration” is not achieved and that an RE system is the best way to s sure.

However, two countries – Germany and Croatia – have in fact introduced a new, more specific performer’s right into legislation by implementing the Directive.

In the case of Germany, this takes the form of a new right to remuneration for performers specifically linked to user-generated content platforms – the obligations of these platforms already being amended under Article Ten -seven of the directive. This means an additional revenue stream for performers administered through the collective licensing system.

And now Belgium can probably be added to the list of countries introducing a new performer’s right when implementing the directive, based on proposals approved last week by the country’s Council of Ministers, which will now be submitted to the Belgian parliament. These proposals also include a new remuneration right for performers. Details of this have yet to be confirmed, although some sources say the new law will be similar to that added to German law.

Either way, if passed by the country’s parliament, the new right will be managed by the collective management company PlayRight. He said on Friday: “In the preliminary draft law which was approved today by the Council of Ministers, a right to remuneration in collective management has been introduced. The text will now be submitted to the commission of the ‘economy of the Federal Parliament’.

The company later confirmed that it “welcomes this positive development”, adding: “We will also be taking a closer look at the mechanisms that [are needed] ensure that performers are remunerated for the use of their online performances”. He also noted that “the battle is not yet won, because now Parliament must be convinced”.

Although the EU Copyright Directive is not relevant to the UK’s post-Brexit, extending the principle of RE to streams has been a big part of the economics of the debate on the streaming here too, of course, with Parliament’s Culture Selection Committee backing such a system.

However, it’s a divisive issue within the music community, given that while artists get a share of the streaming money directly through their collecting societies, it’s obvious that other music stakeholders music streaming ecosystem would see their share of digital revenue decline.

With the way ER currently operates in the UK, it would be labels and distributors who would be affected, while in much of mainland Europe it could also affect the share of money going to streaming services. or even song rights.

However, regardless of the approach taken, not all artists necessarily benefit from an ER move, especially once you factor in system administration costs and session musicians get a cut. money. The debate is therefore more complicated than just artists versus labels.

With this in mind, the UK Intellectual Property Office has commissioned research into the potential impact of different manifestations of CR on flows.

LEARN MORE ABOUT: EU Copyright Directive

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