IMPALA Press Release, 23rd April 2010, Brussels

IMPALA participates in European Commission Hearing on Collective Licensing

IMPALA contributed to the public hearing on the governance of collective rights management in the EU held by the European Commission today. The aim of the hearing was to discuss standards of governance and transparency.

At the hearing, Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA said: “Independent music companies account for 20% of the market share. In repertoire terms we represent 80% of the recorded music released and registered with neighbouring societies in Europe today. Collective licensing income is vital and we have been surveying members to produce a suggested code of conduct for collecting societies.

The code covers various issues and we would like today to highlight 3 specific suggestions:
•    the principle of non discrimination between members is vital and the need to work out how it should be applied in practice right across the board, from voting rules to management fees. We need a real level playing field. Collecting society practices should promote competition between members and not comfort traditional power structures in the market.
•    where monies are used for purposes such as anti-piracy actions, any profits should benefit all members.
•    diversity and competition should be encouraged by allocating a percentage of revenues among all members on a "solidarity” or “diversity” basis. This is standard practice in other sectors to reduce the anti-competitive impact of joint licensing and the dominance of very big players, by improving the competitivity of the smaller actors.

Our code has a host of other recommendations from ISRC codes, to track based accounting, to dispute resolution, to how unclaimed monies are dealt with, to membership rules, to distribution policies and other key concerns.

We would also ask the Commission to include in its review of standards, provisions ensuring that when services pay the major content owners for using their repertoire, they also pay the independents/SMEs. Diversity depends on it.”

IMPALA continues to work on its collecting societies code, which will be released in the near future.