PETALING JAYA - The music industry collected almost RM680milion (S$266million) in copyright fees over the last 10 years but performers complain that they get very little of the money.
The Performers Rights and Interest Society of Malaysia (PRISM) Bhd says the recording companies get the bulk of the copyright fees, with some artistes claiming they only get a few hundred riggit a year, and others alleging that that they received no money at all.
Musician Zulkifli Nadzar, a (PRISM) Bhd director, said that performers had long complained about the low royalty fees.
Zulkifli said the companies' monopoly of music royalties prompted former members of PRISM Sdn Bhd to regroup and form PRISM Bhd in 2012 to protect the rights of individual performers.
According to the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia Group, the four bodies authorised by the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia to collect copyright fees raked in RM679.4milion between 2004 and 2014.
Zulkifli, who has been on the music scene for 40 years, said: "As a performer, I can only expect to receive payment by my recording company to do a song. It doesn't end up being my intellectual property.
"Once the song is completed, the recording company owns it and can continue to profit from it."
Copyright fees are collected from thousands of businesses in the country that play music in their premises through agents appointed by the Music Authors' Copyright Protection Bhd (MACP), Public Performance Malaysia Sdn Bhd (PPM), the Recording Performers Malaysia (M) Bhd (RPM) and PRISM Bhd (which replaced PRISM Sdn Bhd).
The fees are meant for music authors, composers and publishers, recording companies and performers.
On Sept 1, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong highlighted complaints by associations representing coffeeshop owners, hairdressing outlets and even coffin makers against groups demanding "copyright fees" of about RM800 annually from different groups.
Last week, Dr Wee, who is MCA deputy president, announced that the Cabinet had decided that coffeeshops, hawker centres, peddlers, cafes and other small food businesses with only one television set in their premises need not pay the fees. Businesses whose profits are not music-oriented were also exempted.
A reasonable tariff would be determined for those required to pay copyright fees and the number of middlemen companies collecting the fees would be reduced.
PRISM Bhd legal executive Nivash Ohespal Singh claimed that music royalties now only benefited major recording companies.
PRISM started collecting royalty fees on behalf of its 1,300-plus members (which include singers Zainal Abidin, Francisca Peters, Rahim Maarof, Aizat Amdan and the late Datuk Sharifah Aini) in October 2013 and began issuing licences to business owners in December last year.
However, PRISM has yet to make any payouts to its members.
"We'll be holding an AGM in November to announce the royalty payouts," said Nivash.
On complaints by business owners of being harassed by agents collecting royalty payments, Nivash said PRISM had terminated the service of its third party collection agents, MyCollect Solutions Sdn Bhd and Serasi Muzik Sdn Bhd.