Industry News

Performing Right Society sued by songwriters

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A group of UK songwriters and composers has initiated a court action against their own management organisation the Performing Right Society (PRS).

The move is an attempt to overhaul the implementation of procedures and policies which the group claims are prejudicial to the interests of PRS members.

The issue that the writers are most concerned about is the right of musicians and publishers to directly license live public performance rights.

They state that the measures that the PRS is looking to impose suggests that it would rather money earned by UK writers goes to overseas performing rights organisation members instead.

“From a theoretical or academic perspective, the efficiencies of collective rights management make perfect sense for songwriters and composers,” read a statement from the claimants in the legal action.

“However, PRS has strayed significantly from the principles on which it was founded 110 years ago, to the point that the organisation’s policies no longer appear to be operating in the best interests of its members.

“PRS members are treated as second-class citizens in their own organisation.

“Regretfully, after years of PRS refusing to discuss or constructively engage with these issues – including the withdrawal of Live Performance rights, the lack of transparency around international deductions, and the operation of the Major Live Concert Service – we have been left with no option but to seek redress through the courts.”

The group has demanded that the PRS either introduces reforms that empower writers and publishers or it spends “yet more of the members’ money on legal costs”.

The writers say that the implementation of the Major Live Concert Service, which gives preferential conditions to rightsholders, is in conflict with PRS’ obligations as a collective management organisation.

The PRS has faced similar conflict before, most notably in 1994 when Irish rock band U2 launched legal action to challenge its “anti-competitive and restrictive behaviour” on the same matter.