On Monday (November 14), a Berlin court ruled that collection society GEMA can no longer distribute a share of authors’ royalties to its music publishers.
Furthermore the court ruled that publishers should return payments made since 2010.
As you can imagine, this has not gone down well with rights-holders.
“This would result in the devastation of the German music industry, and yet another example of attempts to legislate and regulate our industry that end up annihilating the long standing work of the music publishing community,” said Budde Music founder and VP of the IMPF (Independent Music Publishers Forum) Prof. Dr. Rolf Budde.
“The implications of this latest ruling are far ranging and shocking.
“The system of partnership between authors and publishers in GEMA is a constant for decades in Germany and therefore this decision is both wrong and damaging.”
The starting point for the court’s decision was the action of two songwriters and GEMA members – Bruno Kramm and Stefan Ackermann.
The applicants had argued that, in addition to the authors share, they also had the right to the publishers share of their music’s royalties.
According to the oral submissions of the Kammergericht in Berlin, the decision is based in particular on the fact that the existing publishing agreements do not reveal any clear statement on the involvement of the publisher.
IMPF said in a statement: “The underlying principle is the agreement of authors and publishers that both parties should benefit from income arising from the rights, and as this is a legitimate contractual arrangement between two parties, the interpretation of the courts is simply wrong.
“What’s more GEMA does not involve its music publishers on a flat-rate basis, but only if authors and publishers have agreed to such a participation in the publishing contract.”
Pierre Mossiat, President of the IMPF. said: “Indie publishers are calling for an immediate solution to address this grave problem and we demand that GEMA meanwhile pays the royalties owed to the international repertoires.
“Once we see the grounds for judgement, which are not yet available, we will decide our next course of action, but support for our German music publisher and GEMA colleagues is imperative.”Music Business Worldwide