The Brag Media
News October 27, 2015

Indie labels unite to sign WIN’s Fair Digital Deals Declaration

Former Editor

The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the trade organisation representing the global independent music sector, has launched a Fair Digital Deals Declaration.

Launched today (July 16) with the banner name Worldwide Declaration Signing Day, the statement has reportedly been signed by more than 700 independent labels from 21 countries (Pitchfork). Of the 700, seven Australian independent labels have signed the Declaration, they are: Cooking Vinyl, Future Classic, Head Records, Mushroom Group, Rubber Records, The Orchard and We are Unified. View the full list here.

The statement is a direct response to YouTube’s unfair, non-negotiable licensing contract terms for its forthcoming subscription service. The contract apparently coerces signatures by threatening to block indie music videos.

The new Declaration asks independent labels to pledge to treat their artists fairly when agreements concern digital exploitation of their work in contracts with third parties. The statement focuses on five key pledges; they are:

1) We will ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form.

2) We will account to artists a good-faith pro-rata share of any revenues and other compensation from digital servicesthat stem from the monetisation of recordings but are not attributed to specific recordings or performances.

3) We will encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetisation of music.

4) We will support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorized uses of their music.

5) We will support the collective position of the global independent record company sector as outlined in the Global Independent Manifesto.

Alison Wenham, Chairman of WIN said in a statement: “A healthy commercial relationship based on mutual trust and partnership between artists and labels is critical to the long term financial health of our industry. We believe that this new initiative, which seeks to put in place simple, fair and transparent guidelines for labels dealing with third partydigital partners is a template for best practice. We invite companies – majors and indies – to join the hundreds of companies who have already signed and put a stop to the practise of diverting revenues from the artists without whom we would not have a business.”

WIN has been outspoken and progressive in its disapproval of YouTube’s licensing terms. Early last month WIN met with the European Commission and independent sector representatives in London to seek emergency assistance, and late last month the European Commission’s incumbent Competition Commissioner and antitrust enforcer, Joaquín Almunia, accused Google of abusing its place as an online search giant and figurehead in the adverting business.

The developers of the Declaration are: Emmanuel de Buretel (Because), Martin Mills (Beggars), the WIN Council including Alison Wenham, Justin West (Secret City), Darius Van Arman (Secretly Group), Florian Von Hoyer (Altofonte), Doug D’Arcy (Faith and Hope).

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