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Artists urge sweeping changes at “fraudulent” SGAE

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.

18 arrested in raid on Spanish PRO 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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Viagogo hit by multiple speculative selling suits

Viagogo just can’t catch a break.

The secretive, Geneva-headquartered secondary ticketing colossus is facing its second lawsuit of 2017 following a furore over the speculative selling of tickets for a postponed show by Joaquín Sabina in A Coruña (Corunna), Spain, next July.

In a joint statement, the promoters of Sabina’s Lo niego todo (I deny everything) tour, TheProject, Get In and Riff Producciones, and his management company, Berry Producciones, say they are “outraged” and intend to bring legal action action against Viagogo for the fraudulent listing of “tickets that do not exist”.

A spokesperson tells IQ the parties’ lawyers are currently in the process of filing the action.

The lawsuit mirrors one filed by SIAE in late January, in which the Italian collection society alleges Viagogo listed tickets for a Vasco Rossi show in Modena before they went on sale on the primary market.

It also found itself in hot water with European football’s governing body, Uefa, last year for allegedly facilitating the illegal resale of tickets for the Euro 2016 tournament in France. (This was, in fact, doubly illegal, as the resale of tickets without permission is prohibited under French law; Viagogo is believed to owe promoters’ association Prodiss hundreds of thousands of Euros in fines.)

“Viagogo is offering secondary tickets for this concert, confusing the public with false advertisements … of tickets that do not exist”

In contrast to chief rivals StubHub and Ticketmaster (Get Me In!, Seatwave), publicity-shy Viagogo is reluctant to field enquiries about its business practices, although it will be compelled to appear before British MPs later this year as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into “ticket abuse”. It is currently also being investigated by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority and tax agency HMRC.

The latest lawsuit by Berry Producciones et al. is backed by Spanish promoters’ association APM, the Citizens political party and popular singer Alejandro Sanz, who yesterday announced the launch of the Anti-Resale Alliance (Alianza Anti-reventa) to push for legislation to curb online touting in Spain.

The alianza calls for, “in an urgent and effective manner, the introduction of effective legislation for the digital age to prohibit the speculative sale of tickets and protect consumers, as already exists in countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy and France”.

Ticket touting in person is illegal in Spain, but there is no legislation specifically targeted at online resale. A proposal introduced by Citizens to the Congress of Deputies says this “legal vacuum” has led to “the most affordable tickets being sold out in a few hours and reappearing on the secondary market with the price increased considerably, preventing the most economically vulnerable from attending the event”.


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