National Treatment

Music creators have long been a vocal community in calling out discrimination of any kind. Yet, in countries such as United Kingdom, France, and Japan, creators face financial discrimination every day simply because of their nationality. These and other countries discriminate by skirting royalty payments to artists who come from countries that have different copyright and royalty laws and standards. A common example is American creators not being compensated when their music is played on AM/FM radio internationally.

This discrimination—and ultimately, financial injustice—occurs when a country does not abide by National Treatment, a principal in international trade since 1947 that dictates a country treat foreigners the same under the law as they do their citizens. For the music industry, that means a country can’t pick and choose who gets royalty rights based on a person’s nationality.

That is inherently wrong.

 This punitive action hits U.S. citizens especially hard, in large part because of the popularity of American music abroad. This issue is depriving American creators of an estimated $300 million a year in royalties related to broadcast, public performance, and private copying rights.

Even after the European Court of Justice mandated in 2020 that member countries must apply National Treatment to music royalties, some European countries still seek to overturn the decision or limit its impact. For example, the French government recently introduced legislation that would block access to retroactive royalties made available by the court decision that were used to finance French cultural funds.

The solution is straightforward. National Treatment should be the global standard, recognized and affirmed by the European Union. It should also be embedded in the foundation of future international trade agreements so that we can finally see an end to financial discrimination within the international royalty space. Creators deserve fair pay wherever their music is played.

A growing number of international organizations representing artists, musicians and managers are calling upon governments to treat ALL music creators fairly and equally. With the European Commission grappling with how to implement the European Court of Justice mandate and a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement looming, now is the time for all who think any form of discrimination is wrong to speak out.

Visit the Fair Trade of Music website to make your voice heard.