Early in August 2009, the Russian governmental tender commission granted state accreditation to the non-commercial organization "All-Russian Intellectual Property Organization" (VOIS) for the management of performers' and master record owners' rights and collection of fees for public performance and distribution of music recordings on air or via cable.
Historically, music clearances, specifically for television, have been a gray area in Russia, with a lot of uncertainty as to a particular collecting society having a right to represent the relevant right holder. Under previous legislation, collecting societies were allowed to represent right holders on both a contractual and contract-free basis, which added to the complexity of the procedure. Part IV of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation that came into effect on January 1, 2008 introduced new rules in respect of collecting societies. Now, most of the collecting societies are allowed to represent the right holders only within the framework of the existing contractual relationship with them. As for the non-contractual representation, only those collecting societies that have a state accreditation are allowed to exercise such rights. In practical terms, this means that a state-accredited collecting society can collect fees and operate rights on behalf of any right holder unless such right holder has formally declined representation and notified the collecting society to that effect.
The accreditation requirement introduced on January 1, 2008 specifies six categories of right clearances, as follows:
- management of exclusive (i.e. proprietary) rights to published musical works (with or without text) and fra gments of dramatic musical works in respect of their public performance, dis tribution on air or via cable, including retransmission;
- management of composers' rights in respect of musical works (with or with out text) used in the audiovisual works to obtain compensation for the public performance and distribution on air or via cable of such audiovisual works;
- management of resale rights in respect of visual art works and original manu scripts of literary and musical works;
- management of rights of authors, per formers, music record and audiovisual works producers to obtain compensation for reproduction for personal purposes;
- management of performers' rights to obtain compensation for public perform ance, as well as for distribution on air or via cable of music records published for commercial purposes; and
- management of rights of music record producers to obtain compensation for public performance, as well as for distri bution on air or via cable of music records published for commercial pur poses.
In each of the above categories, only one collecting society may be accredited.
For television purposes, categories (1), (2), (5), and (6) are of importance. In respect of categories (1) and (2), the Russian Authors' Society (RAO) holds the state accreditation. Interestingly, VOIS, the collecting society that has just obtained the accreditation in categories (5) and (6), has been formed with RAO's active participation.
Among other things, VOIS has reportedly indicated that it has a framework agreement with RAO and on the basis of that agreement, the two collecting societies are implementing a "one-stopshop" system within which payments to all the right holders in each of the four categories (i.e. two in which RAO is accredited and two where VOIS has got the accreditation) will be made to any of the two societies, and they will be working in co-operation in distributing the fees among the right holders.