Historically, AFI distinguishes itself for the significate role it plays in the defence and protection of the Italian Music Culture: indeed, it represents and protects the interests of small and medium companies of audio and video producers, managing and collecting the neighbouring rights of its Associates and Clients, as designed by law. These type of rights are difficult to be collected through individual deals. For this reason, in Italy as in the rest of Europe, a mandate is given to a collection society like AFI, in order to achieve benefits.
As defined in Article 78 of the Regulation 633: “Phonographic Producer means the person, or the legal entity, who or which takes the initiative and has the responsibility for the first fixation of the sounds of a performance or other sounds, or the representations of sounds”.
Today, the producer, who is the copyright holder, is not the one who “takes care of the print and manufacture of the media” (as stated in Article 78, prior to recent amendments), but is the person who firstly operates and invests in the realization of new music productions, a role that was historically played by small and medium producers.
Neighbouring rights for public performances
The phonographic producer is entitled to compensation when the media which contain the sound recording (cd, cassette, etc.) is used and played by other public establishment, such us a radio or tv station, or a disco club. Royalties are due also when there is a non-profit usage of the sound recordings.
Private Copying rights
By Law, the phonographic producer is guaranteed a “fair compensation” for the reproduction of private copy for personal use. This royalty stems from the fact that the consumer gains benefits from the legal reproduction (personal use only) of phonograms without any need to request a licence to the right holders.
AFI negotiated deals and conventions with the most important Italian TV stations (including RAI and MEDIASET) which give the possibility for the phonographic producer to receive royalties from the usage of tapes with music backgrounds during TV programs (as known as “playback”).
AFI distribute royalties to the right holders based on a set of parameters:
- Neighbouring rights for public performances: distributed on the basis of the amount of mechanical rights paid by the associate to SIAE and, when necessary, of the reference records obtained by users.
- Private Copy: distributed on the basis of the amount of mechanical rights paid by the associate to SIAE.
- Synchronization rights: royalties are distributed analytically on the basis of the form filled by the associate (previously provided to AFI), which must contain information about the recorded track and the program in which it was used.
With the advent of digitalisation, the great potential of tracks economic global exploitation, together with the growing loss of value of physical support, forces the revaluation of copyright collection, previously side-lined compared to physical product sales. Whilst it is true there is a crisis for what concerns “CD”, it is also true that the usage of music is growing. Web Radio, satellite TV networks, cell phones, Internet and other digital streaming platforms are opening the doors to new ways of music consumption on a global scale. All the benefits will be enjoyed by the ones who will maintain their status of right holders.