Spain Watchdog Probes Collecting Society SGAE

The Spanish competition regulator, the CNMC, has launched new proceedings against the country’s big song rights collecting society SGAE following another complaint submitted by rival rights management organization Unison.

SGAE has been subject to plenty of controversy over the years amid allegations of poor governance and out-right corruption. Those controversies resulted in it being suspended from global collecting society grouping CISAC for a time, and in 2019 it was fined 2.95 million euros by the CNMC.

Unison is a newer collecting society that, among other things, has been seeking to offer songwriters and music publishers an alternative route to licensing their rights in Spain, given the controversies around SGAE. However, Unison argues, SGAE has been doing everything it can to make it difficult for a new player to enter the Spanish collective licensing market, including breaching competition laws and collective licensing regulations.

The 2019 CNMC fine related to claims that SGAE was putting unfair and anti-competitive restrictions on its members who were seeking to withdraw their rights from the society in order to ally with Unison. Later the same year Barcelona’s Commercial Court also ordered SGAE to allow its members to withdraw works “without unnecessary and unjustified restrictions” and “in a segmented or individualized manner”.

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