Recording artists demand transparency in online music sales

Music artists organization criticizes French government plan

Music recording artists have hit out at French government commitments to protect their rights online, saying they don't go far enough.

Just days before the this week's MIDEM event in Cannes, which brings together major record label representatives, the French Culture Ministry signed a pledge to undertake 13 measures that it believes will facilitate access to rights of publishers of online music services in a more stable, balanced and transparent way.

But some music copyright holders have branded the measures 'cosmetic'.

"The commitments demonstrate that in 2011 there is no transparency in how musical works are exploited online and that artists do not yet receive timely and accurate information regarding the commercialization of works via the Internet," said Kelvin Smits, director of Younison, in a statement. Younison represents more than 1,000 artists, composers and musicians.

"The French Minister of Culture and the signatories of the voluntary commitments fail to acknowledge that music distribution on the Internet is a European (and global) phenomenon, which does not stop at the borders of French territory," he continued. Younison wants harmonized European legislation to ensure transparent redistribution of revenues from the digital exploitation of copyright works across Europe.

The Culture Ministry's undertaking has also provoked comment at MIDEM this week. The major French music rights unions, SNEP, which represents major record labels, and UPFI, which includes independent producers, have found rare common ground in the battle against online piracy, both welcoming the '13 commitments' initiative.

Elsewhere, in the U.K., the music industry is adopting a more pragmatic approach by setting up a global database, which will include details on who has worked on creating a song along with who has licensing rights. It is being built by international consultancy Deloitte, with input from EMI Music Publishing, iTunes and Amazon. It is hoped the database will be up and running within two years.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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