Performers IP Rights - Details

10.07.2005

Music copyright: Europe focuses on collecting societies

The European Commission has released a study focusing on the cross-border licensing of authors’ intellectual property rights in the music on-line services. It considers that the current system cannot meet the demand of new Internet music providers – e.g. simulcasters, webcasters, streamcasters or on-demand retailers, etc. – who are increasingly calling for one-stop-shops to be set up, enabling them to distribute content throughout the EU. At present, thanks to a network of reciprocal agreements, each collecting society can license a global repertoire to content providers. Such licence, though, does not extend beyond national borders. On-line content providers, whose services span the whole EU, must therefore sign agreements with several collecting societies in all member States to be able to run their business. The Commission strongly advocates the need for a radical change in the on-line cross-border licensing system, which would introduce fierce competition among the collecting societies – to the alleged benefit of the final consumer and right holder. It says that each right holder should be able to choose which society should be allowed to license his/her work for on-line use throughout the EU. According to the Commission, such system would generate a healthy competition for the cross-border licensing and management of authors’ intellectual property rights; it would increase the overall revenue of right holders, stimulate collecting societies to provide better services to right holders, regardless of their country of residence. The Commission also seems to imply that these new licensing rules could very well become the common standard in the industry in the long term, i.e. apply to other categories of right holders in addition to authors, to the audiovisual sector and also to more traditional off-line uses of copyrighted works.

Although FIA does not object in principle to some harmonised norm setting in this field, including minimum principles on the cross-border distribution of the monies collected, on membership rules or on extra territorial licensing, it has also expressed serious reservations in relation to the solution envisaged by the Commission, which does not seem to be based on sufficient evidence and may actually create more problems than it wishes to solve.

Read the EU Commission discussion paper
Read FIA’s position paper