Devices like the iPod and MP3 players mean people spend more time listening to music. But it would be foolish to pretend the Internet and devices that can enable thousands of stolen songs to be carried around in your pocket, do not also represent a threat to the people whose livelihood depends on copyright.
Earlier this year the Digital Economy Act came into being, ushering in laws designed to prevent illegal file sharing. The Act is a welcome recognition by government that file sharing poses a problem for the creative community. Communication regulators OFCOM are required as part of the Act to report on how the music industry and Internet Service Providers are supporting the legal market. They are also obliged to educate the public about the importance of paying for music.
PRS for Music will be contributing to this report and demonstrating our support of the digital market through effective licensing. This will involve working with OFCOM and other interested parties to develop a framework that enables network operators to invest profitably in next generation broadband, and encouraging licensed music services.
In addition to how we can create a fair and prosperous digital economy, PRS for Music is also helping to shape the thinking behind other significant debates, including what copyright law needs to look like in the 21st century.
In this endeavour, Europe continues to be at the forefront of our thinking, particularly our efforts to find workable solutions for the ‘Option 3’ model, where societies must compete for Pan-European member mandates.
PRS for Music embraces the need for competition and improved transparency within collecting societies. This competition is important as it helps bring about an impetus to improve industry standards, streamline society costs and deliver more effective music licensing and processing solutions for rights holders. Delivering this in the online environment is a substantial challenge though, and we welcome the European Commission consulting with the industry as part of an assessment of a proposed new Framework Directive on Collective Rights Management.
My message to the Commission will be that solutions to the digtal and pan-European licensing challenges will require alignment and collaboration between societies and rights holders. This is how we will deliver solutions that meet future market demands, whilst simultaneously safeguarding the value of copyright.
The International Copyright Enterprise (ICE) joint venture, now operational in Stockholm, is an example of how we can do this. With ICE we have established a new copyright database capable of handling and maintaining authoritative copyright data across millions of works, and thousands of publishing agreements for multiple uses in multiple territories. Accurate data is the cornerstone of effective royalty administration and whilst ICE still has work to do before being fully effective, it is an example of the ambition that societies can achieve when they combine forces.