Online music service providers encounter big hurdles when they want to provide music for download or streaming in several countries in the EU. The Commission wants to change this situation with a Directive proposal which shall facilitate the granting of multi-territorial licenses for online use of copyright protected music. Apart from that, collecting societies shall become more transparent, and rightholders shall be given more effective control over their rights.
The latest songs, new film releases and books per mouse click – the increased demand for online access to cultural content does no longer stop at national borders. Nevertheless, the offer of musical works, which can be legally accessed within the EU, is limited. If an online music service provider such as iTunes wants to sell a song in all 27 EU countries, it is required to obtain licenses in all 27 countries, said EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier at a press conference. The Commission wants to prevent that this often lengthy process limits the diversity of legal musical repertoires on the internet. After all, there was the danger that users would turn to illegal download options, if there were not enough legal choices on the internet, warned Commissioner Barnier.

The Directive proposal lays down the requirements collecting societies have to meet if they want to grant multi-territorial licenses for online rights on musical works. If a collecting society does not want to grant multi-territorial licenses itself, it can request another society to have its musical repertoire represented in respect to cross-border licenses. Moreover, after a transitional period, rightholders may grant multi-territorial licences themselves or through a third party if their collecting society does not grant such licences or allows another society to do so.

Rightholders shall have more effective control over collecting societies

Apart from that, the proposal is aiming at subjecting the activities of all collecting societies in all branches to EU-wide rules, which shall make these more transparent and efficient. There are over 250 collecting societies in the EU which manage the copyrights and other intellectual property rights of rightholders. According to plans of the Commission, they will have to publish an annual transparency report in the future as well as set up a supervisory board, which enables members to control the management of a collecting society. In addition, the Directive shall ensure that the societies pay the amounts due to rightholders such as composers and authors quicker and provide them at least once a year with information on amounts collected and paid. Apart from that, the EU Member States must ensure that dispute settlement mechanisms exist, which members of collecting societies, rightholders as well as commercial users can use to settle any conflicts or disputes with the societies.

Further information:

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on collective management of copyright and related rights and multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online uses in the internal market