Dismantling existing single collection body system for royalties could lead to bigger problems, claims Karyawan

A filepic of a group of musicians performing at a concert at Bukit Jalil Stadium. Photo: The Star

In a press release shared on Oct 29, the Persatuan Karyawan Malaysia (Karyawan) hopes that the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs of Malaysia would reconsider its decision to dissolve and dismantle Music Rights Malaysia Berhad (MRM), the body responsible for collecting royalties for public performance of music.

MRM Berhad had undergone a voluntary winding up on July 16.

On Oct 27, Bernama reported that the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) director-general Datuk Mohd Roslan Mahayudin said the mandate for the distribution of royalties concerning MRM has been placed under the Insolvency Department which acts as the permanent liquidator to Performers’ Rights and Interest Society of Malaysia (PRISM) Berhad.

The news outlet shared what Mohd Roslan said in a statement: “Following this, MyIPO is currently working with Recording Performers Malaysia (RPM) Berhad as well as a committee formed on a voluntary initiative by MRM’s Caretaker Management Committee (CMC), namely PRISM Performers Verification & Claims Committee (PPVCC) to resolve the issue of royalties arrears involving RPM and PRISM members.”

However, Karyawan believes this could lead to a messier system on the collection and distribution of royalties for recording artistes, and it would happen at the expense of consumers and music users. It added that formation of new collecting companies could also lead to "possibility of profiteering".

On Oct 7, Karyawan president president Datuk Freddie Fernandez told The Star that millions of ringgit collected as royalties over the past two decades have yet to be distributed, claiming abuse on distribution of royalties to singers and musicians. He had written to Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to look into this matter.

Bernama reported that Mohd Roslan said Karyawan’s allegations on this matter were baseless. Bernama quoted Roslan:"As an agency that regulates intellectual property in the country, MyIPO always monitors and is concerned about the issue of collection and distribution of royalties and gives its full cooperation to resolve this issue."

Meanwhile the statement from Karyawan on Oct 29 argued further why MRM should remain.

“The system, in which MRM Berhad represented the three different rights in a piece of music (musical works, sound recordings and recording performers) and was the only one collecting the royalties from music users, was working well and there were very few if any complaints from any of the users or even the bodies involved once the system had been implemented in 2016,” it said.

Karyawan urged the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to “reinstate MRM as the single collection body for the public performance of music, as well as to extend MRM’s functions to cover distribution of royalties as well as collection".

According to the artistes' association, this would save cost and issue of royalties arrears could be resolved.

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