Brussels, 11 July 2012
Copyright: Commission proposes easier music licensing in the Single Market
The European Commission has today proposed measures to modernise collecting societies and put in place incentives to promote their transparency and efficiency.
New digital technologies are opening up great opportunities for creators, consumers and businesses alike. Increased demand for online access to cultural content (e.g. music, films, books) does not recognise borders or national restrictions. Neither do the online services used to access them. This is where collecting societies come into play, in particular in the music sector, where they collectively manage the licensing of copyright-protected music tracks for online use on behalf of composers and lyricists and collect and redistribute to them corresponding royalties.
However, some collecting societies struggle to adapt to the requirements of the management of rights for online use of musical works, in particular in a cross-border context. As a result of today’s proposal, those collecting societies willing to engage in the multi-territorial licensing of their repertoire would therefore have to comply with European standards. This would make it easier for service providers to obtain the necessary licences for music to be distributed online across the EU and to ensure that revenue is correctly collected and fairly distributed to composers and lyricists.
More generally, collecting societies operating in all sectors would have to comply with new European standards providing for improved governance and greater transparency in the conduct of their activities. The need for a change of certain practices was highlighted by recent cases where royalties collected on behalf of rightholders were lost due to poor investment policies, but also by evidence of long-delayed payments of royalties to rightholders.
Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier said: "We need a European digital Single Market that works for creators, consumers and service providers. More efficient collecting societies would make it easier for service providers to roll out new services available across borders – something that serves both European consumers and cultural diversity." He added "More generally, all collecting societies should ensure that creators are rewarded more quickly for their work and must operate with full transparency. This is paramount to sustaining investment in creativity and innovation which will in turn lead to additional growth and increased competitiveness."
Key elements of the proposed Directive
Today's proposal pursues two complementary objectives:
Collecting societies act as intermediaries between rightholders in the music industry but also in other art forms like books or films, and the service providers intending to use their works. They license rights, collect royalties, and redistribute revenue to the rightholders in circumstances where individually negotiating licences with individual creators would be impractical and entail high transaction costs. There are more than 250 collecting societies in the EU that manage revenues of around 6 billion euro annually. The use of rights in the music sector accounts for about 80% of the total revenue collected by collecting societies.
The collective management of rights is also important for the licensing of online music service providers (music download services, streaming services). This is particularly the case for the rights of those who compose the music or write the lyrics. Online service providers often want to cover a multitude of territories and a large catalogue of music. They also often want to test new business models. All this makes online licensing very demanding. Many collecting societies are not ready for these challenges and as a result, service providers face serious difficulties when trying to obtain the licences necessary to launch online music services across the EU. This results in fewer online music services available to consumers across the EU and a slower incorporation of innovative services.
The proposed Directive contributes to completing a Single Market for intellectual property and it is part of the 2011 Commission strategy on intellectual property:
The Commission also identified this action in 2011 as an important contribution to growth in the European Single Market:
See also: MEMO/12/545