Euro plan for Warner/Chappell

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CANNES -- Warner/Chappell Music is setting up a system for pan-European licensing for digital and mobile uses of its Anglo-American repertoire, according to sources. The publisher has been in talks with European collecting societies, offering them nonexclusive rights to handle the licensing if certain standards of the publisher are met.

During a meeting held Monday by Warner/Chappell with most of the European societies at MIDEM, the publisher discussed its second set of standards. The first set, sent to societies last June, was modified to offer more flexible options for the societies after earlier talks generated specific feedback from them. Among attendees at the meeting were Warner/Chappell interim CEO David Johnson and Jane Dyball, senior vp international legal and business affairs.

The publisher is reportedly flexible in setting the standards, which cover such things as formats used to report information and royalties, requirements to ensure transparent accounting and basic society governance issues. With respect to governance, Warner/Chappell wants a say in how deductions from their royalties are used by societies.

There also will be a termination provision in the agreements so that the publisher can pull rights from a society and transfer them to another one if its standards aren't met -- at least if the parties' efforts to cure any noncompliance aren't productive.

Warner/Chappell is expected to track the repertoire licensed by each society so it will be clear which society is licensing to whom, using the publisher's own personnel to communicate such information from society to society if necessary.

The publisher expects some societies will sign on to the deal by April, with other societies joining later as they expand their IT capabilities and become able to comply with the reporting and other requirements.

The purpose for the multisociety approach is to ensure that the publisher can protect the value of its rights while offering digital and mobile providers the option to work with societies of their choice. Royalty rates that apply at the territory of destination would apply.

Susan Butler is a senior correspondent for Billboard
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