European Commission proposes shake-up of cross-border music licensingBy Lee Kaelin
The European Commission has put forward new proposals to modernize copyright licensing rules, updating it for the digital age as well as calling for more transparency and EU-wide standards for collecting societies. The idea is to make online music content licensing easier for online content services like Spotify to set up in Europe.
Currently there are more than 250 collecting societies in the EU, managing the licensing of copyrighted music tracks for online use. The proposals would require them to provide records that are more transparent in their business of collecting and the paying of royalties on behalf of artists.
Many of them, according to the EC have struggled to adapt to cross-border rights management created by online music content. The EC's proposal would put in place minimum standards for those collecting societies that wish to offer artists multi-territory licensing as part of their services.
"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," the EC said.
The proposal, if accepted, would also require them to demonstrate the technical ability to handle electronic data in an appropriate and accurate manner, compensate artists in a more timely fashion and provide detailed reports on revenue streams from exploitation of rights, as well as provide annual transparency reports.
The EC feels this would make it much easier for providers of online services offering music downloads or streaming including games and films to obtain the rights to use such works. It would also make it much easier for consumers to legally access the content as well.
The move would help create a single EU market for intellectual property as part of the 2011 Commission strategy on intellectual property. Abolition of trade borders within the EU would also help to modernize the current laws that prevent consumers from legally purchasing digital content like MP3 downloads from other EU States, despite being able to legally purchase physical CDs online and have them posted.