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CISAC expels rogue Spanish society SGAE

By | Published on Thursday 30 May 2019


CISAC, the global grouping of song right collective management organisations, has temporarily expelled from its membership Spanish society SGAE which, in a world full of shit collecting societies, has long been able to boast that it is the shittest of them all. However, despite the temporary expulsion, CISAC says that it is optimistic that SGAE is now finally moving in the right direction.

There have been plenty of controversies at the Spanish song rights organisation, with dramatic police raids, corruption allegations aplenty and a sneaky little scam dubbed ‘the wheel’ which involved the redirection of TV royalties to certain SGAE members.

Although the problems have been going on for years, the global publishers became much more vocal about it all last year after their Spanish reps were locked out of a SGAE board meeting. Those publishers subsequently started to look for other ways to license their catalogues – especially their Anglo-American catalogues – in the Spanish market, while putting pressure on CISAC to take action against its rogue member.

Responding to those calls, in April last year CISAC made a number of recommendations for reforms that should be made at SGAE. And then, after the Spanish society failed to start making said reforms, in December it announced it was initiating a sanctions procedure that could ultimately lead to SGAE being expelled from the organisation unless the required changes started to occur.

In a statement this morning, CISAC said that: “Today’s vote to proceed with the sanction of a one-year expulsion follows an in-depth analysis of recent reforms set in motion by SGAE’s new President, Ms Pilar Jurado. While a number of welcome changes have been proposed, they have not yet been approved by the SGAE General Assembly. Further important technical work and changes are needed and expected by CISAC to ensure SGAE’s compliance with the Confederation’s professional rules for member societies”.

Stating again that it welcomed the positive steps taken so far by Jurado, the global body then stressed that “it believes that the right path to a truly lasting solution is to ensure these reforms are completed, fully endorsed by SGAE’s assembly and meaningfully implemented by SGAE’s governing bodies. This will strengthen the position of SGAE’s management and convince Spanish rights holders and the international creative community of SGAE’s commitment to reform”.

To that end, temporary exclusion has begun. “The CISAC General Assembly has agreed”, this morning’s statement continued, “that the sanction can be adjusted or lifted at any time, as soon as the CISAC board of directors concludes that enough progress has been made to implement CISAC’s requirements”.

SGAE is also under pressure from the Spanish government – empowered by newish European law on collective rights management – to get its house in order. It remains to be seen if it does. And also whether moves by SGAE itself, as well as the sanctions being instigated by CISAC, will placate the global music publishers, some of which have already begun investigating other options for licensing in Spain – and elsewhere in Europe – either via newer nimbler collective management organisations or by extending direct licensing, especially of Anglo-American repertoire.