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New Zealand collecting societies launch wide-ranging joint public performance licence

By | Published on Tuesday 1 October 2013


Few outside the music industry understand the distinction between the copyrights in a song and the copyright in a sound recording, a distinction that means that, if a licensee wants to use a recording of a song with lyrics, they will usually need at least two licences, even if one single person wrote and recorded the track.

And even those who appreciate that copyright law recognises separate lyrical, musical and recording copyrights, and that multiple copyrights can co-exist in a single work, often can’t get their heads around why the music industry treats the so called ‘publishing’ and ‘recording’ rights so separately; especially once you get into collective licensing where the whole point, surely, is that all the rights a licensee might require sit in one pot.

Of course that’s one of the issues being considered in the UK by the not entirely pointless Copyright Licensing Steering Group, and in its progress report last week there was mention of further collaborations between the British music publishing sector’s collecting society PRS For Music and the UK record industry’s rights body PPL to offer joint licences. They are currently developing one-stop licences for amateur sports clubs and small workplaces that play music in public spaces, in addition to five other existing joint licensing arrangements.

But the collecting societies in New Zealand – APRA on the publishing side and PPNZ on the sound recordings side – have gone quite a bit further with the creation of OneMusic, a new joint venture that will offer a wide-ranging combined public performance licence for businesses and organisations that play recorded music in public spaces.

Unsurprisingly, PPNZ boss Damian Vaughan says the new venture, which will surely be watched with interest by rights bodies around the world, came in response to public demand.

He told reporters: “Our customers were telling us the old two-licence model was confusing. APRA and PPNZ represent different rights holders [and] we operate differently and calculate fees in different ways. [But] too many customers were not even aware they needed both licences, so we’re now dealing with the complexities behind the scenes. That’s our job”.

As Vaughan says, the new venture is not an actual merger of the societies, and the specific and different methods used to distribute monies collected will remain, though the aim is that for the licensee the process is much simpler. More efficient online licence processing is also part of the new venture.

On the online element of OneMusic, the Director of the New Zealand side of APRA (which also covers Australia on song rights), Anthony Healey, added: “By APRA and PPNZ coming together our customers can now go to one place,, to calculate their fee without having to deal with complex paperwork. An online payment service will also be ready to go shortly”.

The initiative has been welcomed by various trade bodies representing groups of licensees, with the CEO of New Zealand’s Restaurant Association, Marisa Bidois, saying: “We support anything that means compliance issues don’t get in the way of business. This new process means our members can get a music licence quickly and easily and we’re very happy APRA and PPNZ have heard us on this issue”.

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