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MU, Basca and UK Music Launch Judicial Review

The Musicians’ Union (MU), The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and UK Music have launched an application for Judicial Review of the Government’s introduction of a private copying exception without providing fair compensation for songwriters, musicians and other rights holders within the creative sector.

Although we welcome the purpose of the new measures, namely to enable consumers to make a copy of their legally acquired music, this is a bad piece of legislation as it incorrectly implements the law by failing to include fair compensation for musicians, composers and rights holders.

The private copying exception will damage the musician and composer community. It contravenes Article 5 (2) (b) of the Copyright Directive which includes a requirement that where a member state provides for such a copyright exception – as the UK now has – it must also provide fair compensation for rights holders.

It is the compensatory element of a private copying exception that lies at the heart of EU law and underpins common respect for the songwriters, composers and musicians whose work is copied.

The decision of the UK Government not to provide fair compensation to songwriters, composers and musicians is in stark contrast to the vast majority of countries in Europe who have introduced private copying exceptions. The absence of a compensatory mechanism has led to the judicial review being applied for.

The Judicial review process will involve the High Court examining the Government’s decision to ensure that it was made in a lawful way. It will test the manner in which the Government made its decision. Our intention is that a successful challenge will lead to the decision being re-made properly, with the legislation amended appropriately.

John Smith, MU General Secretary and President of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) said:

“The digital age has brought about real opportunity for the music industry and for creators, but in a lot of ways it has also made it more difficult for them to survive. Whereas previously musicians could look forward to a steady income stream from recorded music, the advent of downloading, mp3 players and streaming services mean that the money that performers get from sales of recorded music has reduced. And that’s without even mentioning illegal downloading.

It is right that musicians should adapt to changing times – and they have. Most musicians now accept that their income will increasingly be made up of micro payments from collective licensing agreements and royalties from PPL or PRS. In order to survive on these multiple smaller amounts, however, performers need to be getting the money that they are owed from every possible revenue stream. Private copying should be one of these streams, as it is in most of Europe.

The Government has not adequately justified why they are bringing forward an exception without compensation. We believe there is strong evidence to suggest musicians will suffer harm under the proposal. This is why we are seeking a judicial review of their decision.

This is surely wrong and the Government should reconsider this ill thought out legislation.”

Published: 26/11/2014
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