Independent Code Review
Today PRS for Music welcomed the publication of a report from Independent Code Reviewer, Walter Merricks CBE. Mr Merricks was appointed by PRS for Music and 10 other copyright societies including the Authors Licensing and Collecting Societies (ALCS), PPL and the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) to conduct a review of how the collection society system is working to find out where improvements can be made.
The Independent Code Review is an important evaluation of PRS for Music’s self-regulation. We were the first collecting society to adopt a code (in 2009 some years before the British Copyright Council adopted its Principles) and extended our licensee and member Code of Conduct to encompass every element of our business operations in November 2012. Mr Merricks was appointed last year and launched a call for evidence in November from the Ombudsman, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the BCC, collective rights management organisations (CMOs), members, copyright users and their representative bodies about our compliance with those codes and principles Today’s report contains a review of these submissions and a set of recommendations from Mr Merricks.
PRS for Music published notice of the consultation on the website.
PRS for Music is grateful for Mr Merricks’ feedback and thanks the stakeholders who took the time to take part in the consultation.
The report makes a number of recommendations related to music licensing:
PRS and PPL to include a commitment to cooperate in their codes of conduct
PRS, MCPS and PPL to establish a Small Business Users’ Panel
PRS, MCPS and PPL to establish a Broadcast Music Licensing Consultative Panel
We welcome these specific recommendations and they align with PRS for Music’s long term strategic goal of placing the customer at the heart of our business operations.
These recommendations come as PRS for Music prepares to launch a programme to simplify tariff structures and is conducting a root and branch review of the information it provides to licensees on its website. PRS for Music committed to working with PPL in 2012 to combine licences where possible and is studying ways in which the two organisations may work more closely. To date, joint licences are in use for small business places (for 4 or fewer employees); amateur sports clubs; and community buildings. PRS for Music embraces the benefits provided by joint working as it removes the need for customers to buy two separate licences from PPL and us.
PRS for Music does, however, need time to reflect on other areas covered in the report – specifically on recommendations with regards to collecting society governance and the suggestion that these organisations are “quasi-public bodies” and should be subject to the same obligations as public bodies to provide enhanced communications. These recommendations are contained in Chapter 2 of the report.
PRS is a private limited company by guarantee and we have an existing clear governance structure. Some of the recommendations may place undue pressures on our limited resources. For example, we have a policy not to disclose individual member’s incomes. We have communicated our concerns back to Mr Merricks.
Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive of PRS for Music said: "We are generally pleased with Walter Merricks’ Code Review and welcome the opportunity to work with our stakeholders in the coming months to implement his recommendations across the business.
PRS for Music was the first British collecting society to put in place a Code of Conduct. We strive to listen to and build strong relationships with licensees and fairly represent our members through our commitment to transparency in all operations.
Although the report shows a lack of understanding about the commercial nature of our business, it serves as an important checkpoint to ensure that we are on course to provide the highest possible service to members and licensees alike."
Find out more about our Code of Conduct.
Download the Code Review report from the code review website.