Thursday, December 08, 2005

Songwriters in online royalties dispute

Songwriters and composers face losing 50% of their income from music downloads if a landmark tribunal case being brought by record companies, online music providers and mobile phone networks is successful.

A consortium worth $600 billion, including Apple iTunes, Napster, EMI, Sony BMG, O2 and Orange, is taking not-for-profit royalties collection agency the Music Alliance - formerly the MCPS-PRS alliance - to the tribunal to try to reduce the amount songwriters earn from a 79p download from 5p to 2.5p.

The MA, which represents 44,000 songwriters and composers, responded this month with a counter-claim calling for an increase in royalties to between 7p and 9p per download, which it says reflects the savings made by record companies by online distribution. It claims companies pocket more than 50p for the same 79p download.

The tribunal, which will be held next year, is expected to cost as much as £12 million. Online royalties currently amount to just £1 million a year, although the market is expected to more than double over the next 12 months and eventually overtake offline sales.
More in The Stage.

Comment: Music is a year or two ahead of drama and comedy in terms of online distribution. But is this the kind of battle that all writers could soon be facing?

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