COMPETITION: Italy’s Competition Authority AGCM had demanded that Italian music rights collection society SIAE deal with monopoly concerns and to end what it calls proven market distortion tactics and to ensure such tactics are not employed in the future. SIAE has been given 60 days to comply. Readers will note that the European Union has sought to make the European collecting societies more competitive, both in terms of recruiting members and licensing rights and indeed responding to those moves two new licensing organisations, Soundreef and Innovaetica, launched
Some 8,000 rightsholders have left SIAE in recent years, mostly for Soundreef. SIAE was alleged to have spent €400,000 to investigate Soundreef – including by hiring Black Cube, a private intelligence agency founded by ex-Mossad agents – following the high-profile defection of Fabio Rovazzi and Fedez in January.
Now Italy’s competition authority says SIAE has employed various tactics in recent years to “impair the right” of songwriters to choose alternative societies to represent their rights. To that end the regulator has demanded that the society “immediately end the proven distortion of competition and refrain from behaving in [that way in] the future”. AGCM says that SIAE has, since 2012, embarked on a “complex exclusionary strategy” designed to uphold its monopoly, “impairing the right of authors to choose copyright management services provided by [SIAE’s] competitors”. It also imposed a “symbolic” fine of €1,000.
SIAE (the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers, or Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori) said it would now carefully read and evaluate the Competition Authority’s order, adding that it was confident it would be able to demonstrate that it was compliant with the country’s competition laws despite the regulator’s demands, and the fine.