updated 04:05 pm EDT, Tue October 20, 2009
EU deal for Euro-wide music licensing
The European Commission today reached a roundtable agreement with several music stores and labels to ensure more widely distributed music for the continent. Apple, Amazon, BEUC, EMI, Nokia, PRS for Music, SACEM, STIM, and Universal now say they will work with the Commission to desegregate music licensing in European Union countries and have labels produce licenses that work across multiple if not all member states. They will also more freely exchange information so that companies can get rights outside of a musician's home country.
The group promises a roadmap but hasn't provide specific timelines for the changes.
A deal follows legal pressure from the Commission on the music industry to provide fairer competition. Online stores and labels have been accused of unfair catalog availability as the lack of widespread distribution often leaves smaller countries with poor selections in iTunes; Amazon has yet to offer its MP3 store outside of the US. Apple has routinely shifted the blame to labels as many of these don't or can't license music in certain areas.
Many licensing firms, like SACEM in France, often have a majority or exclusive right to license music and are sometimes unable or unwilling to license music from other nations.