Tuesday 3 June 2014

PRS for Music basically happy with independent code review

"PRS for Music welcomes Independent Code Review music licensing recommendations" is the very positive headline response, issued yesterday, to the publication of the Independent Code Review by Walter Merricks, CBE [for some background see earlier 1709 Blogpost here]. That's not to say, however, that the review has been accepted in its entirety: PRS for Music doesn't like being called a "quasi public body".  According to PRS for Music:
Walter Merricks was appointed last year as part of a self-regulatory process put in place by the UK's Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) to ensure Codes of Conduct were fit for purpose. Walter Merricks launched a consultation programme in November to collect evidence from the Ombudsman, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the BCC, collective rights management organisations (CMOs), PRS for Music members, copyright users and their representative bodies.

The report [49 pages: you can read it in full here; the review also has its own code review website here] finds that PRS for Music was compliant with its own Code of Conduct and with government standards for CMOs. The report also makes a number of recommendations that PRS for Music welcomes as part of its ambition to set best practice across all areas of its membership and domestic licensing activity:

  • PRS for Music and PPL to include a commitment to cooperate in their codes of conduct;
  • PRS, MCPS and PPL to establish a small business users’ panel;
  • PRS, MCPS and PPL to establish a broadcast music licensing consultative panel.

The report, however, makes the claim that collecting societies are "quasi public bodies". As a private organisation, owned by its membership, PRS for Music is not a beneficiary of government funding, and does not have privileged status afforded by law. PRS for Music therefore, deems the follow-on recommendations, including publishing commercial plans, as inappropriate.

Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive of PRS for Music said: "We are generally pleased with Walter Merricks’ Code Review and welcome the opportunity to work with our stakeholders in the coming months to implement his recommendations across the business.

PRS for Music was the first British collecting society to put in place a Code of Conduct. We strive to listen to and build strong relationships with licensees and fairly represent our members through our commitment to transparency in all operations. Although the report shows a lack of understanding about the commercial nature of our business, it serves as an important checkpoint to ensure that we are on course to provide the highest possible service to members and licensees alike."

The recommendations within this report will also be considered in light of the implementation of the Collective Rights Management Directive [on which, click here]. The CRM Directive sets out ensure all collective rights management organisations operating in Europe meet minimum standards of transparency and governance.
This blogger's impression is that PRS for Music is far better placed than most to align itself with the provisions of the Directive, the contents of which are not subjected to analysis in the Code Review.

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