MCPS-PRS to challenge EC competition ruling

November 2008

Music publishing

UK music royalty collection society the MCPS-PRS Alliance is challenging a European Commission (EC) competition law decision limiting the control such organisations have over copyright use agreements. In July, the EC ruled that the current exclusivity deals the single-country societies had were effectively domestic monopolies in violation of Article 81 of the European Commission Treaty and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement saying The European Commission has adopted an antitrust decision prohibiting 24 European collecting societies from restricting competition by limiting their ability to offer their services to authors and commercial users outside their domestic territory. However, the decision allows collecting societies to maintain their current system of bi-lateral agreements and to keep their right to set levels of royalty payments due within their domestic territory. The prohibited practices consist of clauses in the reciprocal representation agreements concluded by members of CISAC (the “International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers”) as well as other concerted practices between those collecting societies. The practices infringe rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81 of the EC Treaty and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement). The Commission decision requires the collecting societies to end these infringements by modifying their agreements and practices, but does not impose fines. The removal of these restrictions will allow authors to choose which collecting society manages their copyright (e.g. on the basis of quality of service, efficiency of collection and level of management fees deducted). It will also make it easier for users to obtain licences for broadcasting music over the internet, by cable and by satellite in several countries from a single collection society of their choice

The EC made the ruling after a challenge to the deals brought by radio broadcasting company RTL Group in which it sought the ability to make multinational use agreements with a single rights holder.

CMU Daily report that Robin Gibb, in his role as President of CISAC, the global body for publishing collecting societies, has hit out at the European Commission for their continued interference in the way said collecting societies work or, more to the point, how they work together. S peaking at the Popkomm conference in Berlin, Gibb argued that the EC were actually making matters worse. By introducing measures to deal with the concerns that the collecting societies were operating a cartel, he argues, the EC have made it difficult for multiple numbers of societies to collaborate on the kind of multi-territory licences digital providers want. Gibb accused EC interference of making “international trade in music licensing even more difficult than before” and of essentially “blocking the licensing of new digital services”. He concluded that European regulators had “destroyed the current system for multi-territorial licences and have forbidden the societies to discuss any new way forward”.

CMU Daily October 9 th

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