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APRA Ordered To Improve Transparency Of Music Licensing & Royalties

The ACCC has required the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) to improve the transparency of its licensing fees and royalties. This is a condition of the ACCC reauthorising APRA’s musical works licensing arrangements for a further four years.

“The ACCC is granting reauthorisation with a number of conditions to limit APRA’s market power and help protect songwriters and small businesses when dealing with APRA,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh.

APRA and its members – which includes composers, songwriters and publishers – hold performing rights for almost all commercially popular music played or performed in Australia, and earn royalties from those rights.

For many businesses that play music – such as retailers, cafes, bars and broadcasters – their only option is to pay for a licence from APRA, which then distributes fees from these licences to its members.

“Collective management of copyright is generally more efficient than songwriters having to independently negotiate and collect royalties directly from each business that plays their songs,” said Keogh.

“However, APRA’s exclusivity provisions can mean higher fees for some businesses that want to play music.”

According to the ACCC, the information APRA publishes about its licence rates is not clear or detailed enough.

As such, the ACCC is requiring APRA to publish its methodologies for calculating rates, provide an explanation each time it increases licence rates by more than CPI, release more detailed information about its royalty distribution to members, and create an annual transparency report.

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