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Royalties Collector 'Regrets' Pandora UK Exit; Trial Offer Still On The Table

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One of the two UK agencies branded “too expensive” by Pandora has spoken up after the online radio service abandoned a full UK launch. Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), which collects royalties for record labels and performers, told paidContent:UK: “PPL has sought to agree a reasonable basis for licensing Pandora’s service in the UK balancing the value of the rights PPL represents against the commercial pressures of the service provider and sincerely regrets Pandora’s decision to terminate its UK service rather than take up the trial licence on offer.

The PPL asked Pandora to pay according to its licence for interactive, personalised internet radio services (0.0773 pence per track per stream) and on a initial trial basis of 12 months. It told us: “This rate proposal remains available today and has been taken up by other similar services.

“Given that PPL’s proposals are in line with those determined independently by the UK Copyright Tribunal, as well as being considerably lower than those determined by the US Copyright Board for 2009 onwards, PPL re-iterates its disappointment in regards to Pandora’s withdrawal from the UK marketplace at a time when other similar services are establishing themselves.

Intriguingly, PPL explained to us that its current rates were indirectly influenced not just by last summer’s UK Copyright Tribunal on the issue (see adjudications here and here) but also by the decision of the US Copyright Royalty Board, which last year hiked rates required for internet radio streaming. Both settled on a rate-per-track-per-stream model but PPL rates are set by its own board, comprising record label execs and musicians.

Non-interactive online radio services must pay PPL 0.0561 pence per track per stream – lower than the equivalent US CRB rate but two percent higher than that recommended by the UK Copyright Tribunal. The royalty rate for the on-demand licence Pandora must pay (0.0773 pence) is one and a half times higher than this but lower than that recommended by the tribunal, PPL said, adding the offer remains on the table.

The MCPS-PRS – which collects royalties on music and lyrics for songwriters, publishers and composers – charges interactive radio services like Pandora 0.0085 pence per track per stream. See yesterday’s interview with Pandora founder Tim Westergren.