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CISAC readies sanctions against SGAE

The international authors' rights association is preparing to levy sanctions on the controversial Spanish society, owing to a "failure to remedy" breaches of its rules

By Jon Chapple on 05 Dec 2018

Gerardo Rodríguez was appointed director-general of SGAE in November

Gerardo Rodríguez was appointed director-general of SGAE in November

image © SGAE

Cisac – the association representing the world’s copyright collection societies – has announced plans to impose sanctions against SGAE, amid continued alleged rule-breaking by its rogue member from Spain.

At a meeting of its board of directors yesterday (4 December), Cisac (the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) resolved to initiate its sanctions process against SGAE, which could result in the Spanish society’s expulsion.

“Cisac’s board of directors, at its meeting of 4 December 2018, discussed the serious situation at SGAE and the society’s breaches of Cisac rules,” reads a statement from the association. “In view of SGAE’s failure to remedy these breaches, the board decided to launch a sanctions procedure under Cisac’s statutes.

“This procedure could result in various sanctions and measures, including the expulsion of SGAE from Cisac.”

SGAE (Sociedad General de Autores y Editores) has been embroiled in controversy since June 2017, 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 – then broadcast on late-night TV, generating performance royalties collected by SGAE.

SGAE maintains it is “totally willing to comply” with Cisac’s recommendations

Royalties from music licensed under la rueda account for around 70% of monies collected by SGAE from television, despite reaching only around 1% of the TV audience, according to Spanish paper El País.

In July, four of the five big music publishers – Warner/Chappell, Sony/ATV, Universal Music Publishing and BMG – along with the smaller, US-based Peermusic, wrote to the society requesting to pull their international catalogues, which include the likes of Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Enrique Iglesias, collectively comprising almost 60% of broadcast collections in Spain, from SGAE.

In a 65-page report published in May, Cisac found “serious concerns” relating to “distorted and inequitable distribution of royalties” at SGAE, and ordered the society to overhaul the way it does business.

While SGAE maintains it is “totally willing to comply” with Cisac’s recommendations – including the appointment of a new director-general (Gerardo Rodríguez, hired last month) and the creation of an external monitoring body, the association says SGAE has failed to fix its shortcomings. A final ruling is scheduled for Cisac’s annual general meeting in May 2019.


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