Appeal for a single collecting agency for music copyright royalties

FURTHER to the sudden and unilateral winding up of Music Rights Malaysia (MRM) on April 30,2020 due to internal problems, we would like to put on record that we have appealed and written numerous times since June last year to both the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) to urgently establish a succeeding single collecting agency for music copyright royalties.

A single entity is the only rational, efficient and practical solution for us, the users of the end product of such works.

There has not been much progress to date towards an equitable solution from the authorities despite three meetings being convened since the last one on Oct 19,2020. And despite our appeal for a moratorium, our members have been continually harassed by three agencies that previously collected the royalties, namely Music Authors’ Copyright Protection (MACP), representing composers and lyricists; Public Performance Malaysia (PPM), representing recording companies, and Recording Performers Malaysia Bhd (RPM), representing performing artistes.

MRM was established in January 2017 by the then Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry. Back then, MRM comprised MACP, PPM, RPM and PRISM Bhd (which would up in November 2018).

The last two agencies both represented performing artistes.

Before MRM was established, there were attempts by increasing numbers of bodies lobbying for the right to collect royalties, purportedly representing various splinter and overlapping groups. This created much confusion and uncertainties.

There were also acts of increasing intimidation on innocent users, including even coffee shop owners, hawkers and taxi drivers.

It was in this flagrant environment that the minister then saw the wisdom and advantage in having one collection body. All parties, i.e MACP, PPM, RPM and Prism Bhd, agreed to this single collection body and we strongly supported and continue to support this wise move.

In the current scenario, three agencies - MACP, PPM and RPM - are now doing their own collection directly from music users. It would appear that we have regressed to the inequitable situation of the past.

Since the previous licence fees were paid in 2020 until the period ending December 2020, there has been no equitable solution from the authorities, hence our members have had no choice but to engage alternative royalty-paid/inclusive music sources/providers, for example music streaming/downloads, which is more cost effective but may deprive local music rightholders of their fees.

We do want to support local artistes but it is impractical and inefficient to deal individually with the current three bodies. This is again leading to proliferation of splinter groups demanding separate fees.

Expecting users to separately negotiate with them is akin to asking users to negotiate with different parts suppliers instead of just negotiating to buy the end product. Taking a car as an example, it is not logical to negotiate and pay separately for the vehicle’s wheels or the engine.

We are glad to have participated in the recent MyIPO survey to ascertain the preference and inclinations of industry stakeholders towards the royalty collection mechanism and its efficiency and equitability. The survey ended on April 30 this year, and hopefully the views and proposals of all stakeholders will lead to a mechanism that is practical, cost effective and, most importantly, fair and equitable to all parties. We look forward to an efficient system whereby the copyright owners will expediently receive their dues.

But until the mechanism is established, we have appealed for all approaches and demands by the current three bodies to be held in abeyance. In view of the stalemate and impasse, we have also requested for a moratorium pending a practical and final solution.

Furthermore, with the Covid-19 pandemic, shopping malls, retailers and hotels have endured shut-downs, restricted trading terms and hours, and low foot traffic. Thus, the use of music as background broadcasting has also declined.

We had proposed that the fees already paid for 2020 be discounted by 50% and that portion be credited for 2021. Thus, there are no fees due for the three bodies to pursue and harass the members of the user group for this year.

We reiterate our strong belief and confidence in the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to intervene in order to resolve the stalemate as it is their duty and responsibility to do so. The rights of not only the copyright holders but also, and more importantly, the users must be protected under all circumstances.

The survey results must also be analysed as soon as possible, and consultations be held among stakeholders to arrive at a practical, fair and equitable collection mechanism acceptable to all parties.










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