Music firm secures major licensing deal with Warner
ABU DHABI // A company in the capital has renewed its push for an official regulator to enforce copyright laws and collect royalties for musicians after signing a major rights deal.
PopArabia on Sunday announced it had secured management rights with Warner/Chappell Music Publishing, and now represent most major music publishers including Universal, EMI and Sony, covering most of the music released worldwide.
The company, which operates out of the media free zone twofour54, grants permission to use music across the GCC and most of the Mena region, including Iran and Afghanistan.
Yassine Watson-Bedaisi, managing director of PopArabia, said the Government should act so that artists could collect royalties on a similar scale to those in the US when their music is played on radio or other platforms.
Mr Watson-Bedaisi said this would include the Ministry of Economy issuing licences.
“We’ve seen a lot of progress towards changing that at the government level, but also commercially,” he said. “We don’t know how long that can take although we are trying to make it happen as soon as possible.”
With no performing rights society, royalties are rarely paid to artists in the UAE.
As a result, radio stations, bars and restaurants that play copyrighted music in public are breaking the UAE’s 2002 copyright law.
“The legal framework is positioned, it’s just the infrastructure for collecting performing rights that needs to be properly developed and established here,” Mr Watson-Bedaisi said.
Ziad Hassouneh, a lawyer with Emirates Intellectual Property Services, said the law “covers all the rights of the producer, anyone making any kind of art”.
Mr Hassouneh said playing copyrighted works without the permission of the owner could be punishable by two months in jail and a minimum Dh10,000 fine, up to a maximum of Dh50,000.
In other countries, royalties are tracked and paid out by societies such as PRS for Music in the UK, which represents 111,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, and collected more than Dh3.6 billion last year.
Noura Al Kaabi, chief executive of twofour54, said artists needed protection.
“PopArabia plays a vital role in the development of a sustainable commercial music industry in the Mena region,” she said.
“Copyright provides content creators with exclusive rights to their work and allows them to be rewarded for their creative contributions.
“It also incentivises them to continue investing their time, resources and money into creating new content, which in turn reflects positively on the economy.”
Updated: December 6, 2015 04:00 AM