x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

For artists, royalties are music to the ears

The formation of a royalty collection society for music is being considered for the UAE, as some local broadcasters continue to break the law by not paying for what they play on air.

The formation of a royalty collection society for music is being considered for the UAE, as some local broadcasters continue to break the law by not paying for what they play on air.

In many other countries, royalty payments are paid to singers and artists when copyrighted material is used in public, such as over radio and TV broadcasts. However, there is no structured organisation to collect and distribute performing rights payments in the UAE, so royalties are rarely paid.

That means that many UAE broadcasters are technically in breach of the country's copyright law of 2002, which states that copyright infringement is punishable by a minimum fine of Dh10,000 (US$2,722) and two months in prison.

According to PopArabia, a new music rights consultancy based in Abu Dhabi, the formation of a royalty collection society is under consideration.

PopArabia will be an "advocate" for the formation of a broad rights collection scheme, according its managing director, Hussain "Spek" Yoosuf.

"A collection society really has to be mandated at a federal level," he said. "I believe it's on the agenda - that there's a recognition that this needs to be resolved."

According to the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, global royalty collections by its members grew to more than €7.5 billion (Dh34.19bn) in 2010.

Examples of collection societies include PRS for Music, which manages the rights of 85,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the United Kingdom.

In 2010, PRS for Music collected £611 million (Dh3.47bn) for its membership, for various uses of music, including on-radio and public performances.

bflanagan@thenational.ae