From The IPKat:
Readers may have followed the IPKat reports on the UK Music Streaming Inquiry, which focused on musicians and performers’ remuneration from streaming, or lack thereof, amongst other things. However, this conversation is not solely a national matter. It is clear that these issues are global and that there is a need for change at an international level in the music industry.
In May 2021, the French government gave organisations representing performers and phonographic producers 12 months to negotiate an agreement guaranteeing “an appropriate and proportional minimum remuneration for artists” whose works are broadcast by streaming services. The deadline came after a 2015 initiative that sought an industry-led solution for a fair online music industry. The negotiations were mediated and no doubt the EU Digital Single Market Copyright Directive – which requires “appropriate and proportionate” remuneration for performers – also impacted on those ongoing talks.
Now, in May 2022, – much like most of us these days who only meet our deadlines in the eleventh hour– a historic agreement was reached between France’s main organisations representing record labels and performers/musicians. The agreement ensures that all performers will receive a minimum remuneration for the exploitation of their recordings by streaming services and provide a minimum royalty rate. It also embraces the principle of a minimum advance for featured artists, as well as, for non-featured musicians, a specific package for streaming with automatic additional remuneration when listening thresholds are reached.
In particular, the agreement includes the following,:
• A minimum rate of royalties due to featured performers for the broadcast of their work via streaming;
• A guaranteed minimum advance of €1,000;
• A profit-sharing mechanism for the benefit of musicians when musical works reach a certain level of success;
• A fixed remuneration for the benefit of all musicians;
• A strengthening of FONPEPS – a private/public fund supporting employment
• Increasing minimum fees for session musicians
• Additional remuneration for artists, paid for by their record label, for every 7.5 million plays their song receives
Currently, revenue from streaming for featured artists depends on their recording or distribution contract. Non-featured performers – i.e., session musicians – are usually paid a one-off fee for their time and so do not usually receive anything more when the song is streamed. Therefore, these agreed changes will change the remuneration framework for both featured and non-featured artists from streaming.
Link to the rest at The IPKat and thanks to C. for the tip.
PG notes that both authors and musicians have a long history of being badly treated
by the entities that have traditionally published their work. Despite the
differences between US and French intellectual property laws, unsurprisingly,
the same historic pattern appears to have been established in France.
While PG instinctively comes down on the side of the
author/performer/artist/musician, etc., in matters such as are discussed in the
OP, he wonders whether music producers might dodge this agreement by putting
all the performers onto an airplane and flying them to a destination outside of
France for recording sessions paid for by a non-French (or even non-EU)
In PG’s hazy memory, he thinks this may have happened with California-based
production companies flying everyone to Mexico for performance and recording
purposes. But, as always, PG could be wrong about that.
One of the fundamental problems in these sorts of situations is that there
are always far more starving artists/authors/musicians, etc., than there are
The established stars of any field of creative endeavor have the clout to
negotiate favorable agreements and payments – think author James Patterson in
the US – but those creators farther down the food and power chain are often
faced with take-it-or-leave-it choices due to the substantial power differences
that limit negotiation opportunities.
PG has no idea of how many negotiations he has been involved in for clients,
and although power differences between the negotiating parties are always in
play, competent negotiators can almost always improve the contract provisions
in favor of the parties they represent.
A long time ago, PG was appointed to represent various indigent defendants
who had been charged with a comprehensive and colorful variety of crimes. Here,
the power differences were substantial – the state with a group of salaried law
enforcement officers with access to many other resources the state and federal
governments could provide on one side and PG with a semi-literate impoverished
client on the other. (With a small handful of exceptions, crime does not pay
very well in the real world.)
The only alternative to a negotiated settlement – a plea bargain – was a
criminal trial either in front of a judge (whose predilections were either
known to PG or could be ascertained by a few calls to attorney friends) or a
jury trial in front of twelve randomly-selected adults who happened to live in
the county where the crime had been committed and the criminal charges were
filed. (PG will skip change of venue possibilities in this discussion because,
in 99% of the cases, jurors from one county were, for practical purposes,
indistinguishable from jurors from any nearby county.)
After a jury verdict, PG attempted to chat with as many jurors as possible
to determine what elements had influenced their decision. It was a very
interesting experience because the jurors had sometimes intuited some
additional elements to the case that could not be included in the evidence they
had received for one reason or another. They were also quite good at
identifying a witness who was lying, even if that witness was a law enforcement
officer (a rare occurrence in PG’s experience, but not out of the question).
Juries are relevant to copyright issues because, although almost all
copyright cases are tried without a jury, the Supreme Court has held that the
parties have a right to a jury trial if a defendant in a copyright lawsuit for
statutory damages demands a jury trial. See Feltner v. Columbia
Pictures, 523 US 340 (1998). Click
here for a summary of that opinion.
1 thought on “Music Streaming and The EU Digital Single Market Copyright Directive”
PG’s memory is not hazy on what has (and continues to) happen(ed), but it’s related to union contracting and not copyright law.
Under various interlocking agreements negotiated by various unions with various collective-producer entities and related entities† any film “produced” in the US that contains any soundtrack that did not preexist the film must have that soundtrack performed in the US. Other nations have similar agreements, with varying definitions and interpretations. It’s about localizing the jobs for session players, not about copyright or creativity beyond that of the conductor in interpreting a score (and isn’t that an oil-barrel-sized can of worms that neither the music community nor commercial glassblowers want recognized, let alone opened). In the US, it’s about the proper scope of the Labor-Management Relations Act… and grievances, rights to residuals based on the recordings (which are not royalties — just ask either the IRS or the Social Security Administration, because they arise “solely” from “labor”).
† Leaving aside the potential antitrust issues here — and they’re only potential, because they depend on so many factors concerning whether this is a “real” labor agreement or Something Else that anybody who says they know the answer is either ignorant or lying — these entities include both “the studios” (and related, affiliate-but-not-partner-or-joint-venture, production companies) and award entities. For example, an “original score” produced in violation of these agreements is not qualify to be nominated for the Oscars, because one of the obscure interpretations of AMPAS’s Oscar bylaws requires compliance with all labor agreements as a condition of eligibility.
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