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EU court ruling paves the way for European music licensing

Should help content companies and artists
Mon Apr 15 2013, 13:31
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COPYRIGHT CARTEL the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) has failed to get a European Commission ruling overturned at the European Union (EU) General Court that stopped it from imposing licences country by country.

The EU General Court, the second highest court in the European Union, delivered two rulings that could significantly change the way content providers do business in Europe. The court annulled a finding by the European Commission that CISAC and other licensing bodies were colluding to set royalty rates, but it upheld a previous European Commission ruling that forces rightsholders to offer Europe-wide content licensing deals.

The European Commission issued a decision in 2008 that said content producers such as song writers should be able to sign with any agency rather than specific agencies that are tied to European Union member states.

The EU General Court didn't give a reason for its decision, simply stating, "The General Court rejected the applications in so far as they sought the annulment of the Commission decision in respect of the membership and exclusivity clauses."

At present each EU member state has its own licensing body, meaning that content distributors such as Amazon, Apple and Google must negotiate separate deals in order to have complete European coverage.

The EU General Court said it overturned the European Commission's decision on collusion due to lack of evidence. In a statement the EU General Court said, "The [European] Commission, first, did not have documents proving the existence of concertation between the collecting societies as regards the territorial scope of the mandates which they grant each other and, secondly, did not render implausible the applicants' explanation that the parallel conduct of the collecting societies at issue was not the result of concertation, but rather of the need to fight effectively against the unauthorised use of musical works."

While CISAC scored one victory in that the European Commission failed to present enough evidence against it and other rightsholding organisations to prove collusion, the EU General Court's decision to give song writers the ability to deal with a single continent-wide copyright licensing body could make life a lot easier for everyone but CISAC and other rent-seeking copyright cartels. µ


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