Copyrights laws towards a fairer remuneration

By The Gigstarter Team on 29-06-2022 |

Last week, in line with the European directive implemented in 2019, the Belgian parliament changed and created its new copyright laws, which tend to provide the artists with a better remuneration and adapted to the digital era. To be more specific, a new right of equitable remuneration was added to the set of rules contained in the European directive, meaning that musicians will receive directly a percentage of royalties from digital streaming platforms such as Spotify, without first passing through the hands of their record labels.

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Musicians do not own their own work

In most countries, royalties generated through streaming platforms are paid by the digital platforms to the copyright owners whose songs are played for a certain period of time. In most cases, the owners of these royalties are the record labels and not the creators of the music or the artists. In some cases, the record labels pay a percentage of the generated royalties to the musicians depending on the contract and according to the agreement they have with the musicians. However, a large number of musicians never receive such royalties because their share is 'absorbed' by the record label as a form of payment for the initial investment they incurred during the production and artistic promotion of these musicians.

A controversial system

This system is considered as inappropriate and unfair since the musicians have not paid the investment that record labels initially made on them, but this does not mean that these musical entities do not generate any benefits through the use and exploitation of this copyrighted music. Moreover, many argue that the services provided by streaming platforms are more similar to the ones provided by radios, in which a certain percentage of royalties are paid directly to the artists without going through the record labels and regardless of the contract they have with the artists. Therefore, the music played on streaming platforms and the royalties generated thanks to them should be managed in the same way as the radio sysrem, i.e. music should be treated as a service and not as a product, since after all, consumers of such platforms "rent" but do not buy and own the product in the end.

An imminent change

Many argue that streaming music is considered as a physical product like a CD, others regard it is a service like the one offered on the radio, the only thing clear in this debate is that technology implied changes in the music industry that require attention, especially after the pandemic. Therefore, the right of a more equal remuneration introduced by the Belgian parliament seemed more than necessary to tackle the problems of the copyright system and reward correctly the artists for their creative work.

Fair remuneration across Europe

Only a few countries in Europe have introduced the laws mentioned in the European Directive which clears specifies the right to a fair financial compensation. Many countries have settled for the exact and vague transposition of article 18 of the European directive, which stipulates that "performers who license or transfer their exclusive rights for the exploitation of their works or other subject-matter must receive adequate and proportionate remuneration". However, the directive does not provide a clear definition of what is considered as "adequate and proportionate remuneration." Belgium is one of the few countries in which a more accurate definition of this article has been introduced in its copyright regulations.

The deadline to introduce the 2019 EU directive expired more than a year ago, yet 12 countries are still working on its implementation in their national law. The Belgian step should be an example for the rest of the countries that have not done their job yet.

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Tags: remuneration, fair, copyright, music, Belgium, regulation, law