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The collection society/PRO is the target of calls for government intervention among Spain's artistic community, as the fall-out from the 'la rueda' scandal continues
By Jon Chapple on 07 Sep 2017
More than 150 Spanish musicians have signed an open letter calling for government action against SGAE, as controversy continues to rage over alleged corruption at the beleaguered collection society.
In a manifesto titled En defensa de nuestros derechos (In defence of our rights), the signatories – who comprise dozens of major local artists, including Alejandro Sanz, Pablo Alborán, Antonio Orozco, Dani Martín, Malú, Juanes, Bebe, Fito and Los Ilegales – urge the ministry of culture to prevent SGAE being used as a “fraudulent instrument” (“instrumento fraudulento”) against songwriters, with many also calling for the society to be shut down and re-founded under new management.
SGAE (Sociedad General de Autores y Editores) was brought into disrepute in June when police raided its offices in search of documentation relating to an alleged scam dubbed ‘the wheel’ (la rueda), in which SGAE members and TV execs allegedly conspired to create “low-quality music” – often reworked versions of songs in the public domain – which was then broadcast on late-night TV, generating performance royalties collected by SGAE.
“We request authorities and the ministry of culture to act against the bad practices, taking into account their obligation to regulate the SGAE,” reads the letter, seen by El País.
Among the signatories’ demands for a ‘new’ SGAE are the “equitable and proportional allocation of rights” in line with to the contributions of each songwriter/author; an “urgent reform”, in the wake of la rueda, of the distribution of royalties from television; a reform in authors’ representation at the society, including extending the right to vote to a greater number of members; and a code of conduct to promote transparency and best practice.
Some artists and associations have also reportedly approached law firm MA Abogados for legal advice as to the return of monies “allegedly defrauded” by SGAE.
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