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European Songwriters Sing Out Against Producers’ Alleged Blacklisting

Posted  March 14, 2012

An alliance of European composers and songwriters is alleging that major broadcasters and production companies are threatening them with blacklisting if the artists don’t give up all the rights to their work in exchange for commissions.

Taking aim at the practice known as “coercive commissioning,” the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) has filed a complaint asking the European Union’s Directorate General for Competition to investigate.  ECSA represents more than 12,000 composers and songwriters across Europe.

Broadcasters and affiliated production companies cited in the complaint include: TF1, ZDF Digital Medienproduktion GmbH, RTL Group, SAT 1, ARD, Rat Pack Filmproduktions GmbH, The Studio Hamburg Group, Grundy UFA TV Produktions GmbH, Rai Radiotelevisione Italiana S.p.A., Mediaset S.p.A., NTR, RTL Netherland, DDB Amsterdam, British Sky Broadcasting Group plc, Sky1, ITV Studios Limited, ITV plc and Zodiak Media Group.

According to ECSA, composers will not be considered for commissions unless they assign the copyright to the works created to a publishing company owned by the production company or broadcaster – or one chosen by them (and from whom the publishers will have generally received an advance payment).

The composers and songwriters also allege that this practice of “coercive commissioning” siphons off a significant source of income for music creators – usually freelancers without access to legal counsel and with vastly inferior bargaining power in negotiations with large broadcasting corporations.

Tagged in: International Competition Issues,