French Collection: UK

Some of the fundamentals of the collective management of rights originate in France, when great French playwright Beaumarchais brought together a group of like-minded playwrights to lobby for the protection of their work in the 1700s. The organisation they created, Société des Auteurs Dramatiques, laid the way for Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD), a collective management organisation (CMO) for authors.

However, the current set up of collective management for music in France is significantly different from that in the UK. Here, we outline some of the fundamental differences between collections in France compared to the UK.

In the UK, PPL is the only CMO licensing commercially released sound recordings for broadcast and public performance on behalf of performers and recording rightsholders, whereas in France there are up to seven organisations fulfilling the same function.

Broadcast and public performance rights for performers and recording rightsholders were introduced in France in 1985 and are subject to what is known as a legal licence. This means that a performer or record company cannot oppose the public performance or broadcast of a commercially published sound recording, subject to the payment of equitable remuneration.

The level of equitable remuneration is agreed between representative organisations of performers, record companies and music users. If these parties fail to reach an agreement, the level of remuneration is determined by a committee chaired by a representative of the State and comprised of equal numbers of representatives of performers, recording rightsholders and music users.

Once agreed, all monies are collected by Société pour la Perception de la Rémunération Equitable (SPRE). SPRE is a joint company made up of the two performer CMOs, ADAMI and SPEDIDAM, and the two recording rightsholder organisations, SCPP and SPPF.

SPRE collects revenue directly from TV and radio broadcasters and nightclubs, but outsources certain public performance collections to the French equivalent of PRS for Music, SACEM. In 2014 SPRE’s total collections were €120 million.

The revenue collected by SPRE is divided equally between the recording rightsholder and performer CMOs, who then distribute the revenue onto their members. 

Performers

PPL collects from both ADAMI and SPEDIDAM, the two performer organisations in France. Performer revenue is split 50:50 between the two CMOs. The original difference between the two organisations is that, according to a 1988 tribunal decision, ADAMI represents featured performers, whereas SPEDIDAM represents non-featured performers.

There have been a number of disputes between ADAMI and SPEDIDAM over the last 20 years, one of which is the split of revenue distributed to featured and non-featured performers. This dispute has now been resolved, however, there are still some points of difference over which organisation is entitled to represent which set of performers. 

Both organisations employ different distribution methodologies, which is why payments to PPL members may differ slightly. The two organisations are, however, exploring opportunities for effective joint working, including exploring joint distributions.

Recording rightsholders

The recording rightsholder organisations, SCPP and SPPF, have a joint holding company SCPA, which is essentially a database of usage that each organisation claim repertoire ownership from. As SCPP and SPPF claim from the same database, they have very aligned ways of working. The fundamental difference between the two organisations is that the major repertoire owners are members of SCPP, whilst SPPF membership is solely made up of independent record companies. The average split of revenue collected between SCPP and SPPF is 70/30.

Both SCPP and SPPF also directly license usage types that fall outside the legal licence, for example dubbing and music video usage.