Some of you might have already heard about the Cultural Commons Collecting Society (C3S), an organization which aims to provide an alternative to major-label oriented performance rights societies in Europe.
The idea of C3S was born out of the special German situation in regards to performance rights. The current problem with being a musician in Germany is that all your performance rights will be managed by a state-controlled, monopolistic collecting agency called the GEMA. This anachronistic legal situation is a left-over from the Nazis, who introduced the monopoly in 1933.
The problem isn't so much the monopoly itself but more the fact that the GEMA lacks a democratic structure and has limited accountability, which means it's vastly intransparent. This has lead to a situation where the organization is effectively controlled by major labels and mainstream producers, who managed to award nearly all the collected license fees to themselves.
Furthermore, GEMA threatens the whole alternative music scene by forcing small venues to pay exorbitantly high license fees, even if those venues don't host shows with GEMA-registered artists. So, to sum it up: Whenever I play a concert somewhere in Germany, the venue has to pay a substantial amount of money to GEMA, of which I get... well? Take a wild guess. Yep, that's right: Nothing, Zero, Zilch.
Therefore, the primary goal of C3S is to challenge the GEMA monopoly. On the long run however, C3S wants to provide transeuropean alternative to traditional collecting societes, especially for those artists releasing under Creative Commons and similar licenses.
The C3S idea has now matured, and the organization will be officially registered on September 25th. They will prepare their application for registration as a collecting agency, which is due to happen in 2015.
C3S is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on startnext. They intend to raise 200.000 Euro by September 30th, however at the moment they still fall a bit short. So if you can, please chip in to support this important project!