Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Composer contracts - it's not fair?
This morning a group called the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance launched a campaign against "coercive practices in the commissioning of music for the audiovisual and media production sector" - apparently a formal competition complaint has been filed in Brussels that composers were "frequently forced to assign the copyrights to their music to a publishing company owned by the production company or broadcaster as a pre-condition prior to being given a commission" and often on terms "far less fair than what could be secured in a truly free and open market"
It is easy to understand why composers might cry "it is not fair" that people are only willing to buy their work on specific terms, but there is a big distance between "it is not fair" and "it is not legal". The press release (which has been reported by Reuters and others) only lists a number of very large broadcasters and producers as offenders - not surprising as those are the sorts of names that mean that ECSA will get press coverage - but if I am a small start-up TV producer and I enter into an agreement on specific terms, it is hard to see how I am not operating in a truly free and open market - and the question is therefore how big production companies need to be in order for there no longer to be a truly free and open market ... after all, there are a very large number of production companies out there and an even larger number of composers.
Answers on a postcard please.