Latest Collection Society Scandal Raises Question: Are They Credible Representative Of Artists?


DownloadEither as a result of incompetence or malice, some copyright collection societies have earned something of a tarnished reputation when it comes to representing artists, says Glyn Moody of Techdirt. 

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image from www.musiciansunite.com

Guest post by Glyn Moody of Techdirt

If you’ve been reading Techdirt for any time you’ll know that copyright collecting societies have a pretty poor record when it comes to supporting the artists they are supposed to serve. Sometimes, that is just a question of incompetence, but often it veers over into something worse, as happened in Spain, Peru and India. TorrentFreak has some interesting news about an audit of the Greek collection society (AEPI). Initially, AEPI was reluctant to hand over the relevant documents to allow the audit to take place, but here’s what has just emerged:

The final report, obtained by Greek publication TVXS, reveals a capital deficit of around 20 million euros, which according to the publication means AEPI cannot meet its obligations.

Despite that notable shortfall, key members of AEPI’s management team have been getting paid rather handsomely:

AEPI’s CEO alone received an annual salary of 625,565 euros in 2011, more than 52,000 euros per month. This figure has prompted outrage in local media.

Strangely, though, the actual artists that AEPI is meant to represent aren’t doing quite so well:

According to the audit, AEPI’s IT system tasked with handling royalty payments was incapable of producing a report to compare royalties collected with royalties being paid out. But artists were certainly being short-changed on a grand scale.

“By Dec. 31st 2014, the undistributed royalties to members and rightsholders amounted to 42.5 million euros, and have still not been awarded to members,” the Greek newspaper EfSyn notes.

Torrentfreak-LogoA further post on the TorrentFreak site, this time concerning the former head of anti-piracy at the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), shows that there are problems with money in other parts of the copyright industry:

“BPI can confirm that a former employee, David Wood, was dismissed for gross misconduct in December 2015,” a BPI spokesperson told TF.

“BPI has referred the matter to the Metropolitan Police who are investigating. As investigations are ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment in any more detail at this stage.”

TorrentFreak sources indicate that very large sums of money are involved in the dispute, running well into six figures. Precise details have proven impossible to verify (the BPI declined to comment) but we understand the numbers involved are “significant”.

Given that this kind of thing has been happening all around the world for years, you really have to wonder why these organizations are still allowed to put themselves forward as the legitimate representatives of the artists they serve so poorly.