MEPs want EU law for online music

April 2007

Internet, music publishing

The European parliament has criticised its own executive for prioritising competition between collection societies – rather than protecting cultural integrity in member states. Song-writers’ and composers’ rights are currently controlled by Collective Rights Management societies (CRMs) which grant national distribution licences for record labels and online shops and collect royalties of a few cents per download. The artists are most often represented by their national CRM society – some of which date back to the 1850s – and in the other EU countries by virtue of reciprocal bilateral agreements that allow, say, a Spanish society to licence Dutch music in Spain while channeling cash from Spanish royalties back to the Netherlands. But with the EU digital music sector set to become a €3.9 billion a year industry by 2011, the major record labels are pushing Brussels to break-open the rights monopolies system. The European Commission therefore proposed in its recommendation to open up the copyright market to competition allowing those interested in trading music on the web to negotiate with one CRM instead of each individual CRM in the 27 different EU member states. But MEPs are saying that although competition is good, to open the market without a set of restrictions would endanger European cultural diversity with CRMs then focusing on making money instead of diversity, hampering the developments of national and local music markets.’s+top+stories

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