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CISAC responds to latest call for action against Spanish collecting society

By | Published on Wednesday 13 June 2018


CISAC, the global body that brings together song right collecting societies from around the world, yesterday issued a substantial statement about the controversy surrounding the Spanish collective management organisation SGAE.

There have been various controversies around SGAE’s operations in recent years. The most recent hoo haa has centred on the way TV royalties are distributed by the society, and an alleged scam that involved collusion between certain SGAE members and certain Spanish broadcasters.

That controversy has resulted in police raids and an investigation by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, not to mention conflict within the SGAE membership. A number of global music publishers have hit out at the society and its management, which resulted in some of those publishers being excluded from the organisation’s board meetings.

Earlier this year the International Confederation Of Music Publishers called on CISAC to suspend SGAE’s membership unless it addressed the TV royalty controversy.

Then earlier this week the ICMP issued a new statement expressing frustration that no progress had been made to deal with the issues, adding that its members were now considering “alternative licensing options” in Spain that would presumably cut the Spanish society out of the process.

In an update from its side yesterday, CISAC said: “Following a complaint against SGAE by ICMP in March, objecting to the Spanish society’s exclusion from its board of three publishers, the CISAC board decided that SGAE should not participate in CISAC board meetings while an enquiry into the society was in progress”.

CISAC concurrently commissioned a report into the controversy around SGAE, which was delivered to the global group’s board at the end of last month. “Among the findings of the review is that SGAE’s conduct has been non-compliant with many of CISAC’s professional rules”, the body confirmed yesterday.

Its statement went on: “Among [the report’s] recommendations is the immediate re-instatement of the expelled publishers. It also recommended sanctions against SGAE should it fail to comply with the recommendations within an agreed timeframe. Discussions are now continuing on implementing the report’s recommendations”.

CISAC says that SGAE has agreed to work with the global body on reforming its governance rules. At the same time, SGAE has been reviewing all of its statutes as a result of new regulations on collective licensing that recently came into effect in Spain, new rules that basically finally incorporate the European Union’s 2014 Collective Rights Management Directive into Spanish law.

However, at the same time SGAE rejects ICMP’s specific complaints, citing recent court decisions in Spain as endorsing its position. It also rejects the conclusion of WIPO’s review of its royalty distribution practices, again citing a Spanish court judgment.

CISAC concludes that it “is nevertheless determined to work with SGAE to resolve these issues as a matter of urgency and to ensure that SGAE’s distribution rules are fully compliant with CISAC’s professional rules”.

Meanwhile, as the pressure continues to pile on SGAE, the Spanish government’s Ministry Of Culture And Sports yesterday demanded that the society provide a copy of CISAC’s report into its operations, details of the proposed reforms of its statutes, and information on what measures it is proposing to introduce to deal with ongoing TV royalties dispute. It has five days to provide that information.