Court Holds Soundreef Business Activities in Italy are Legitimate

February 2015

Music publishing


The Court of First Instance of Milan has ruled in favour of this rising and ambitious British company that administers copyright and neighbouring rights and is a de facto competitor of the Italian Society of Authors and Editors (SIAE) saying: “At the moment there are no sufficient elements to hold that Soundreef’s dissemination of music within the Italian territory is unlawful because of the exclusive granted to the Italian Society for Authors and Editors (SIAE) as per Art. 180 of the Italian Copyright Act, nor does it appear that the music … managed and disseminated by Soundreef in shopping centres, department stores and similar commercial venues, must be necessarily managed by SIAE. Any such claim would be in conflict with both the principles of the free market within the European Community and the core principles of free competition”. [Indeed, in an era in which technology takes the strain and the bureaucratic element of rights management is largely automated, the benefits to rights owners through economy of scale, if they exist at all, must be vanishingly small].

In both phases of the interim proceedings, the Court of Milan dismissed all claims against Soundreef.

“The decision holds that Soundreef’s conduct is completely legitimate, since Art. 180 of the Italian Copyright Act cannot be interpreted in contrast with Art. 56 TFUE, that guarantees the free movement of services.”

By means of an interim order, the Court held that Soundreef could not be considered liable of any “unfair conduct” that, “because of the particular modes of implementation, violation of the law or national rules”, could be considered such as to cause an unfair damage to any third parties. The court also added that, since Soundreef is a British collecting society, “it cannot be held that European collecting societies may only operate in Italy by means of reciprocity agreements with the local collecting societies. This is a possibility that is open to the parties to consider, not an obligation.”

Soundreef now operate in a number of countries around the World, including the UK, Italy, France, Sweden, the Czech Republic, India, Greece, Russia, Israel, Ireland Costa Rica, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Spain.  Besides granting music licenses, Soundreef collects and distributes royalties to authors, composers, editors and labels, and by doing so it has provided an alternative to SIAE in Italy.

Taken from a blog by Jeremy Philips on the 1709 Copyright Blog. More here

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