Ahh, Music Utopia. Who wouldn’t want to live there? Free from conflict, misunderstanding and dispute; a world where copyright infringements are absolutely unheard of; where music creatives are compensated fairly for their creations. Alas we haven’t yet been able to achieve Music Utopia, and in today’s world misunderstanding, miscommunication, lack of sufficient music business knowledge and in some cases plain old greed can inevitably lead to copyright related dispute even among creatives themselves specifically in regards to fairly identifying what percentage of royalty shares belongs to whom.
While it’s a situation most of us may dread—and thankfully one we can avoid by seeking to establish agreements and contracts before publicly releasing our music—it is nonetheless important to have an understanding of how our Collective Management Organization handles disputes among members with regards to royalty share splits.
We’ve therefore highlighted below ECCO’s handling policy on Disputes and Resolutions Regarding Shares.
If a dispute arises among members of which ECCO has been notified in writing by one of the interested parties or if an affiliated society notifies ECCO of a dispute as to the allocation of the shares of a given work, ECCO will, on being satisfied that the claim giving rise to the dispute:
- is not trivial or vexatious; and
- is supported by prima facie documentary evidence
place any distributions payable on account of those shares that are in disputes, in suspense for a period of two years from the time ECCO is advised that a dispute exists.
When ECCO has been notified in writing that, within this two year period, a legal action has been commenced, any distributions payable on account of those shares that are in dispute shall be deposited in an interest bearing account.
If a legal action has not been commenced within the two year period, or if the dispute is not otherwise settled, ECCO may at its option, remove the distributions payable from suspense and make a distribution according to the allocation of the shares prior to the date that the dispute arose.
If a legal action is commenced, within the two year period, and ECCO has been advised in writing by one of the interested parties of the existence of this action, then any distribution payable on account of those shares shall remain in suspense until the action is finally decided, discontinued or otherwise settled. When ECCO is notified that the dispute has been resolved the distribution payment shall be made according to the terms of settlement, providing those terms do not conflict with the distribution rules.
Meanwhile ECCO offers Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), by providing mediation services to members, in the following circumstances, subject to all parties agreeing to submit to the procedure:
- Where writer members are in dispute as to the proportions in which royalty allocations are to be shared;
- Where writer and publisher members, are in dispute as to their respective entitlements
- Where publisher members are in dispute as to their respective entitlements
It’s important to note however, that ECCO does not offer mediation services where members are in dispute as to copyright ownership or alleged copyright infringement.