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EU cross-border licences for online music services

February 5, 2014

By Colin Mann

New rules on music copyright have been approved by the European Parliament with the aim of making it easier for online providers to obtain licences to stream music in more than one EU country. The law, already informally agreed with Council, should stimulate the development of EU-wide online music services for consumers and ensure that artists’ rights are better protected and that they receive adequate royalties promptly.

“The directive will effectively protect the interests of European creators and make it possible for end users to have access to copyright-protected content throughout Europe,” said the rapporteur, Marielle Gallo. “This directive is a clear signal that copyright can be easily adapted to the Internet. Copyright has an essential role to play in the digital economy,” she added.

Under the new rules, online music service providers in the EU will be able to obtain licences from collective management organisations representing authors’ rights across borders. With licences covering more than one member state, service providers should find it easier to stream music services across the EU.

To ensure that the creators of music in all member states have access to licences covering more than one country and to preserve cultural diversity, collective management organisations that do not themselves issue copyright licences for more than one country will be able to request another organisation to represent their repertoire. Under certain conditions, those organisations would be obliged to do so.

Thanks to MEPs, collective management organisations will have to manage the repertoire they represent under the same conditions that they apply to their own repertoires.

All collective management organisations will be required to ensure that artists receive appropriate remuneration for the use of their rights in good time. In general, the royalties will have to be distributed to artists as quickly as possible, and no later than nine months from the end of the financial year in which the rights revenue was collected.

Rightholders will also have a say in the decisions on the management of their rights and the freedom to select the collective management organisation of their choice. To ensure that rightholders’ rights are properly managed, collective management organisations will also have to comply with transparency and reporting requirements as well as minimum rules on governance and on the collection and use of revenues.

The directive. approved by 640 votes to 18, with 22 abstentions, still has to be formally approved by the Council. After that, EU member countries will have 24 months to incorporate the directive into national law.

Internal markets and services Commissioner Michel Barnier welcomed the vote, describing the Directive as “a cornerstone of the digital single market” which would facilitate the entry of smaller innovative suppliers on the European market and also contribute to wider availability and better choice of offers of online music in Europe.

According to Barnier, the Directive will strengthen and improve the governance and transparency of these organisations. “It will, for example, give rightholders the possibility to be more involved in the decision-making processes of their collective management organisations, set out minimum requirements relating to the governance structure of collective management organisations and ensure timely and accurate payments of royalties to rightholders,” he explained.

“In addition, the new rules will foster and improve multi-territorial licensing by collective management organisations for online music services (such as music download services or streaming services). Going forward, it will be easier for those services to cover a multitude of territories and a large catalogue of music, which in turn will increase the offer available in the EU.”

He said the vote reflected the efficient and constructive inter-institutional work that has been done on this file and was convinced the Council would approve the adoption of the Directive in the coming weeks.

Categories: Articles, Content, Rights