New law would untangle web of EU's 250 royalty collection agencies

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Issue Date: 
Jul 12 2012 - 12:25pm

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The EU's governing body yesterday introduced legislation designed to strengthen the European digital music market by streamlining how copyright royalties are collected.

Though nation members of the European Union act together on a wide span of issues, each nation has its own set of agencies that administer composition, publishing, sound recording, and mechanical copyrights for music -- 250 collecting societies in the 27 EU member states alone.

The result is that digital music companies (for instance, leading webcaster Pandora) are forced to negotiate individual agreements with each of these bodies for each country in which they'd like to operate. In the end, for most operators, it's too complex and expensive, and so instead they simply block listening in countries with which they have not forged agreements (and why Pandora isn't legally available in Europe). [See our related coverage about Pandora in Australia and New Zealand here.]

The current situation, the European Commission says, limits consumers' choices, hurts those who hold music copyrights, and promotes unauthorized music sharing. Though the Commission passed legislation in 2008 for "pan-European" licenses and to break down the national barriers it felt held back the growth of digital music, it was ineffective. 

Read more in The New York Times here.

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