PRS for Music welcomes Independent Code Review music licensing recommendations

PRS for Music today welcomes the publication of the Independent Code Review by Walter Merricks, CBE.

Walter Merricks was appointed last year as part of a self-regulatory process put in place by the UK's Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) to ensure Codes of Conduct were fit for purpose. Walter Merricks launched a consultation programme in November to collect evidence from the Ombudsman, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the BCC, collective rights management organisations (CMOs), PRS for Music members, copyright users and their representative bodies.

The report finds that PRS for Music was compliant with its own Code of Conduct and with government standards for CMOs.

The report also makes a number of recommendations that PRS for Music welcomes as part of its ambition to set best practice across all areas of its membership and domestic licensing activity:

  • PRS for Music 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.

The report, however, makes the claim that collecting societies are "quasi public bodies". As a private organisation, owned by its membership, PRS for Music is not a beneficiary of government funding, and does not have privileged status afforded by law. PRS for Music therefore, deems the follow on recommendations, including publishing commercial plans, as inappropriate.

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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.

Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive of PRS for Music

The recommendations within this report will also be considered in light of the implementation of the Collective Rights Management Directive. The CRM Directive sets out ensure all collective rights management organisations operating in Europe meet minimum standards of transparency and governance.

Notes to Editors

  • PRS for Music has 100,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers and represents 3 million members across the globe. It is a private limited company by guarantee, with clear governance structures in place, and it remain highly committed to fairness and transparency in its dealings with all members and licensees, as set out in our Code of Conduct.
  • The Independent Code Review forms an important function in the self-regulation of UK collecting societies which opted to produce their own Codes of Conduct based on British Copyright Council (BCC) principles.  In November 2013, Mr Merricks called for evidence directly from the Ombudsman, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the BCC, collective rights management organisations (CMOs), copyright users and their representative bodies.
  • The final Code Review report is available on the code review website.
  • A statement is also available from the BCC.

About PRS for Music

PRS for Music represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and around the world. As a membership organisation the company ensures creators are paid whenever their music and songs are played, performed, broadcast or reproduced in public and provides business and community groups with access to 22.2 million songs through its music licences. With over 100 representation agreements in place globally, PRS for Music's network represents over two million music creators.

In 2016, the organisation collected over half a billion pounds (£621.5m) on behalf of its members, making it one of the world’s leading music collective management organisations.