Performance rights organisation

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(Redirected from PRO)

A performance rights organisation exists to collect and distribute royalties on behalf of audio and video artists, for performances of their copyrighted works under copyright law. In some countries it is called a copyright collective or copyright collecting agency. A copyright collective is more generic than a PRO as it is not limited to performance material.



A PRO works by first signing up artists to become members, and then bargaining with the users of the artists' copyrights (directly or through the users' representatives) the royalty rate to be paid for such use. Without a PRO, it would be necessary for each artist to contract with each user individually, which is practically impossible.

PROs often take disputed cases to court, or in the U.S. to the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel, or CARP, of the Library of Congress.


In the U.S. and many other countries around the world, PROs are often criticised for using heavy-handed tactics to "extort" money from stores which play music. These tactics include sending lawyers to demand payment and even having federal marshals raid stores in order to take money from the registers.

PROs have also been accused of being "cartels". ASCAP is, in fact, operating under a 1950 antitrust consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice which regulates what tactics it may use. (This agreement was amended in 1960 and 2000.)

They have also been criticised for charging non-profit organisations for their use of copyrighted music in situations where the non-profit organization was not earning money from the use. ASCAP, for example, was eventually forced to abandon its attempts to charge the Girl Scouts of America for singing campfire songs in the face of public opinion. ASCAP's and SESAC's policy of charging non-commercial educational (NCE) radio stations for playing copyrighted music has also been criticised, especially by college radio stations across the U.S., which rely entirely on student and listener support for funding and have difficulty affording the extra fees.

At times, PROs have also been criticised by artists for slow or non-existent payments, or excessive amounts being taken out and kept by the PRO as membership dues or service fees. However on the other hand, the creators of music can hardly enforce and protect their rights without PROs, thus it is always a balancing act to execute the rights being assigned to PROs.



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