The Hellenic Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AEPI) is accused by the public prosecutor of non-payment of €42m in royalties
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An EU collective of music creators has lodged an appeal with the EU Commission regarding the Greek government's “unlawful intervention” into music rights collection
By Anna Grace on 24 Apr 2019
The European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) has appealed to the European Commission to take action against the Greek government’s takeover of the national rights collection system.
ECSA submitted its complaint to the European Commission’s competition directorate general stating that creator colleagues in Greece are “being prevented from accessing performance income from their music”. The complaint is supported by the International Council of Creators of Music (CIAM).
In May 2018, Greek performance rights organisation, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AEPI), had its license revoked following a scandal involving unpaid royalties of €42 million and financial mismanagement by board members.
Rival, independent collection rights society Autodia attempted to fill the position in the wake of AEPI’s demise. However, the government took over the management of music rights, creating a new division of the Hellenic Copyright Organisation (HCO).
The government-run division falls within the collection society’s supervisory body itself, meaning that the organisation lacks any proper third-party regulation.
“Every music creator should affiliate with the collective management organisation of their choice”
ECSA complains that, under the current system, music creators are unable to join a collection society of their own choice. The organisation also claims the government’s “unlawful intervention in the marketplace” is preventing funds from reaching composers and songwriters worldwide.
In addition, the songwriter alliance claims the HCO unlawfully used over €2m in state funds to benefit the new division, violating EU state enterprise funding law.
“The current difficulties in Greece affect first and foremost Greek music authors but also all music creators,” says ECSA president, Alfons Karabuda.
“Europe’s music creators are the bedrock of a vital, diverse and important economic and cultural sector. They deserve an efficient management of their works and the protections of the law just as Greek taxpayers deserve to be confident their tax revenues are being applied in a sound, legitimate and transparent manner,” states Karabunda.
CIAM president Eddie Schwartz comments: “As creators we stand with our colleagues to ensure that going forward, creators have a sound and lawful administrative system in Greece on which they can rely for their livelihoods.
“Every music creator should affiliate with the collective management organisation (CMO) of their choice,” adds Schwartz. “No CMO should ever be prevented from responding to the needs of the creators they exist to protect. This is why we are objecting to the situation in Greece.”