History is rife with examples of horrible abuses by music collection societies. Riddled with corrupt practices, monies earmarked for authors and artists often find their way into the hands of friends or directors of the organizations. And apparently it happens all too often. Even in the U.S., which has extensive oversight practices, stories abound of lesser artists being screwed by their more famous counterparts. In Peru a situation has come to light which may change things for the better with regard to collection and copyright.
In recent years plans have been afoot to address Peru’s bad copyright legislation. Loose legislation has led to a scandal within its collection society, The Peruvian Association of Authors and Composers (APDAYC). They have been under investigation for years and even sanctioned but without effect. In March, its practices were again called into question. It seems that APDAYC was playing fast and loose with guidelines for measuring popularity and distribution of royalties among its associates. This case has created a scandal in Peru and is the impetus for copyright reform there.
No less than thirteen bills are pending which seek to change the copyright laws in Peru. Some bills focus on operational aspects of collection societies. This is aimed at abuses by APDAYC. Included is the methods of electing boards, term limits for board members and avoiding conflicts of interest- be they direct or indirect. Also covered in the legislation is the obligation to demonstrate legitimate representation of works that they charge for. For the first time in eighteen years there are bills that seek to put the rights of users at the same level as those of the authors. This is a watershed proposal in a country where there has been so much abuse.
It is good that these things are up for discussion. Peru is eager to have access to culture and knowledge and the proposed reforms are welcome and necessary. As a result, victory can be snatched from the jaws of defeat as it were. The public will benefit once again from the correcting of overzealous copyright law and organizations’ abuses.