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Russian collecting societies set to merge, though the recording rights society doesn’t seem keen

By | Published on Monday 27 July 2015

Russian Authors Society

While, for the Western music industry, Russia is rarely thought of as the home of efficient collective licensing, collecting societies in the country are doing the one thing that has been much discussed elsewhere but with little action so far, that is to say simplifying music licensing by bringing the record industry and music publishing sector’s performing rights organisations together. Though not everyone is seemingly happy with the move.

RAO, which represents Russian authors and songwriters, has announced that it is merging with VOIS, which represents sound recording owners, and RSP, which collects the private copy levy in Russia, to create one big rights body, seemingly to be known as PDK RAO. Collecting societies in Russia need government approval, but the country’s culture minister has reportedly backed the new combined rights organisation.

However, according to local media reports, the boss of VOIS claims that the merger decision was made a meeting he did not intend, and that he therefore considers the proposal to be illegal. According to Izvestia, the sound recording rights group – which caused controversy itself when the Russian government decided it should be the only record industry collecting society in the country in 2009 (two other societies weren’t impressed) – has complained to the culture ministry about the proposal, and asked the ministry of justice to intervene too.

But a spokesman for the RAO seemed to suggest the merger was already underway, telling Billboard: “Succession will be observed as far as responsibilities before rights holders and relations with licensees and users are concerned, and there will be no interruption of regular royalty collection operations. Distribution and paying out of royalties to rights holders will be done on time and in strict compliance with the law”.

So, that’s all fun isn’t it? Record labels and music publishers in New Zealand were the first to offer joined-up music licenses via their One Music initiative, although the two sectors’ PROs still remain autonomous behind the scenes. Meanwhile, in the UK, PPL and PRS do offer a handful of combined rights licences, though it’s still the exception rather than the norm. But many in political circles reckon that, where users exploit recordings of songs, and therefore need to clear both recording and song rights, more joint licences should be available.