A bull's eye for Marielle Gallo (EPP, France): her report on the collective management of copyright was adopted unanimously by members of the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI, 22 votes in favour), on 9 July in Brussels. If everyone agrees on the issue - even Christian Engstrom (Greens-EFA) of the Swedish Pirate Party - it is because it will require greater transparency of rights management societies (250 such non-profit organisations in the EU) in the collection and payment of royalties to rights holders. There is known to be a fair degree of opacity in the sector (eg an embezzlement scandal in Spain).

The legislative proposal - also on track in the Council - focuses on two areas. First, it aims to enhance transparency. Rights collecting societies for all sectors (music, audiovisual, reprographics, etc) will be required to present an annual report to their members - artists - on management costs and investments. Artists will also have monitoring rights through a general meeting and will be free to choose the collecting society that manages their rights. According to the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers (GESAC), most of these member societies already apply similar standards. The rules will therefore become EU-wide.

One provision approved by the JURI committee is controversial, however: the possibility for artists to be represented by an agent or lawyer at the general meeting. "This is a very bad idea. Authors are intent on keeping their seat and many collecting societies refuse to hold a meeting of lawyers," noted Veronique Desbrosses, director-general of GESAC. French Socialist MEP Francoise Castex also rejects the idea, denouncing "a model where group spirit and solidarity no longer exist and where the richest rights holders [who can pay a lawyer or agent - Ed] will become even richer". She nonetheless voted in favour of the report. This measure sprang from a compromise with the Liberals and Greens, the latter demanding totally free appointment of a proxy holder, where the artist would have been able to be represented even by someone from outside the sector.

"The vast majority of societies have nothing to hide. This...

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