EC makes progress on pan-European music licensing

The European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes has welcomed progress made towards pan-European music licensing following discussions at an Online Commerce Roundtable. In particular, she welcomed confirmation by French collecting society SACEM that it is willing, in principle, to entrust other collecting societies with pan-European licensing of its repertoire and to act as non-exclusive rights manager for publishers and other collecting societies.

Kroes confirmed that multinational record company EMI is ready to entrust rights managers to offer its repertoire for the whole European Economic Area (EEA) and notes Apple's statements that if iTunes was readily able to license rights on a multi-territorial basis from publishers and collecting societies, it would consider making its content available to all European consumers, including those in EU countries where iTunes is currently not available.

Commissioner Kroes set up the Roundtable in September 2008 to examine ways to reduce barriers to online commerce. The report on the Roundtable, just published on the Europa website, outlines the conclusions of the meeting that Commissioner Kroes hosted on 17 September 2008, as well as of a 16 December 2008 follow-up meeting which focused on the distribution of online music.

Commissioner Kroes said of the conclusions of the Report, "There is a clear willingness expressed by major players in the online distribution of music in Europe to tackle the many barriers which prevent consumers from fully benefiting from the opportunities that the Internet provides. I therefore encourage the major players, in particular publishers and collecting societies, to move quickly to adapt their licensing solutions to the online environment. I will review progress at the next meeting of the Roundtable that I will organise shortly with other major players in the online music market".