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European Commission proposes changes to music licensing

updated 01:32 pm EDT, Wed July 11, 2012

Multi-territorial licensing could aid iTunes, Amazon sales

The European Commission is proposing changes to music licensing rules in Europe. The suggestions would seek greater transparency, an improvement in royalty collecting group management, and allowing for multi-territorial licensing of music usage rights.

Currently there are more than 250 collecting societies in the European Union, managing around 6 billion euros ($7.4 billion) in revenues from 27 member nations. Music rights are licensed per individual country, and rights agencies often won't communicate with their peers in other territories. The new EC proposals seek to allow licensing deals to cover multiple regions, which could in turn help services such as iTunes and Amazon MP3 secure rights in a more timely manner, possibly with a reduced cost.

Rightsholders would also have a direct say in the management of their rights, being able to choose the most efficient collecting society for their purposes. Other requirements for collecting societies would see annual transparency reports being published, increased clarity in revenue streams from rights exploitation for rightsholders, and an improved mechanism for providing additional information to other collecting societies.

The directive is part of an EC strategy on completing a single market for intellectual property. Michael Banier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, wants increases in growth and competitiveness in the industry, adding that "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." [via ZDNet]




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