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Labour Candidate and Blur Drummer Leads Lawsuit Against PRS Over Alleged ‘Black Box’ Royalties Violation

 |  April 5, 2024

Dave Rowntree, drummer for the band Blur and current Labour candidate for Mid Sussex, has taken the lead in a legal battle against the Performing Rights Society (PRS) over allegations of breaching UK and EU competition regulations concerning so-called ‘Black Box’ music royalties.

Rowntree is spearheading a collective proceedings claim form submitted to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), targeting the British music copyright collective, PRS. With a membership exceeding 165,000, predominantly composed of songwriters, PRS plays a major role in collecting royalties from various UK establishments, including television broadcasters, radio stations, restaurants, and bars, for the public performance of musical works by its members.

At the heart of the dispute lies the accusation that PRS unfairly handles ‘Black Box’ income, a term in the music industry referring to royalties paid to PRS but not allocated to their rightful owners. The legal conflict, as outlined in a press statement, revolves around the disproportionate distribution of this income, with a significant portion flowing towards publishers rather than to writer members and creators.

According to the statement, while the bulk of the ‘Black Box’ funds rightfully belong to PRS’s writer members, the current distribution model unjustly favors publishers, resulting in an inequitable allocation of royalties. The legal action seeks to rectify this alleged injustice, with law firm Maitland Walker, represented by senior partner Julian Maitland-Walker and partner Adrian Render handling the case.

The collective proceedings claim form, submitted on Tuesday, is the latest step in the effort to halt this allegedly unfair royalty distribution practice. It also aims to reclaim royalties owed to PRS songwriter members, which were erroneously diverted to publishers.

Source: Cityam