Brazil's copyright societies indicted for fraud, new law demands efficient, transparent collecting societies

Ronaldo sez, "I am writing because something relevant happened in Brazil two days ago regarding the local copyright collecting societies (analagous to Ascap and BMI in the US). After more than 6 months of investigation by a Senate special inquiry commission, 15 directors have been indicted for various types of fraud and crimes. Also, the Senate is proposing a new law to completely revamp the copyright collection system, based on principles of transparency, efficiency and tech improvement (I helped the Senate draft the law). I believe this might be interesting for people outside Brazil for various reasons. Both because it paves the way to a more transparent and accountable copyright collection system, and also because it is a huge contrast with cases like Megaupload: in Brazil it is the copyright societies that are been indicted for fraud."

The part that I'm excited about is "principles of transparency, efficiency and tech improvement." Collecting societies are based on the idea of statistically sampling music usage and remitting funds based on the analysis. Given that we live in the age of analytics, it's unforgivable that the basic algorithm for collection distribution is "all the money goes to the big four labels, except for some scraps that we give to a few indies, and the rather titanic rake we keep for ourselves." I think the 21st century is waiting for a collecting society run with the institutional transparency of GNU/Linux and the analytic efficiency of Google.

CPI do Ecad propõe novas leis e órgãos para gerir direitos autorais (Thanks, Ronaldo!)


  1. This is amazing. In Italy, we are seeing an attempt of class action by authors/composers against SIAE exactly because of the “sampling” on music usage (which normally results in “you play, someone else gets the money”. This is a much more radical approach and something which I believe will have influence on what is happening here too. :)

  2. I strongly agree with your call for transparency, efficiency and tech improvement in all facets of the music industry; but with respect to the US collecting societies you mention (ASCAP, BMI), your assertion that “all the money goes to the big four labels, except for some scraps that we give to a few indies, and the rather titanic rake we keep for ourselves” is false. These societies are not for-profit and also do not pay labels.  They pay songwriters and music publishers 50/50.  While there’s room for improvement in their methodologies, they’re certainly not keeping a ‘titanic rake’ for themselves.

      1. Full disclosure: I’m a former ASCAP employee, laid off seven years ago and I can assure you that they are aggressive with holding down expenses. In my last few years there raises, when they happened barely kept pace with inflation, benefits were consistently cut back, etc.

        Senior management ther has icewater in their veins and I can tell you they are the only ones making a decent living there: by cutting staff who’ve been there for some time.

        Keeping the operating ratio low is their mantra. They operate under a consent decree which is subject to review by the DOJ. I was there for one such review and can tell you it’s taken seriously.

        I detest and despise John Lo Frumento, Al Wallace and Vincent Candilora, the three main senior management people I dealt with, but I can tell you they’re not lining their pockets with license fees and shorting their membership of royalties.

    1.  Wow, Risky:
      This is naivete at its finest. You do understand how “non-profits” work in this country (USA) right?

  3. Well, I’m Brazilian and that is not fantastic at all. All our corrupt government want is to control the Ecad (the local copyright collecting which is corrupt as well), therefore controlling copyright collecting in Brazil.

    It sucks to be a Brazilian…

    1.  Tiago, open your eyes, this is not a government issuem this is a public issue; it’s not a problem that involves only those running the State, it’s a problem that involves everyone in Society. I’m really not 100% pride of being brazilian, but this is one of the points that make me really happy and hopefull about it every now and then.

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