MEPs rubber stamp plans for single digital market


European politicians have approved draft rules that they say would make it quicker for artists to claim royalties from Internet music service providers.

Service providers would also find it easier to obtain licences, according to the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee, which unanimously passed the recommendations on Tuesday.

“This text ... is a key proposal for the digital single market. Simple and transparent licensing of copyright means more legal offers and easier access to online content for consumers. This reform also ensures fair remuneration for artists and will develop new business opportunities,” said rapporteur Marielle Gallo.

For about 10 years the European Commission has been trying to establish a single market for copyrighted works used online, and last year published the Collective Rights Management Directive, which aims to make it easier to license authors’ rights and encourage licensing across EU borders.

As it stands, online music services such as Spotify and Mixcloud typically have to get licences in each EU member state – an expensive and burdensome process.

According to the latest approved text, instead of dealing with collecting societies in separate EU countries, service providers could obtain licences from a small number of such organisations operating across EU borders.

Under one of two amendments to the 2012 Directive, rights owners could claim their royalties more quickly, as the deadline for paying them would be cut from 12 to three months following the end of the financial year in which the revenue was collected.

Another amendment gives authors and artists better control over managing their rights. According to the legal affairs committee, the rules would allow artists to choose the collecting society they join, enabling them to “participate more easily in the decision-making process”.

These proposals – particularly covering royalties and multi-border licensing – are welcome, said Till Kreutzer, a German IP lawyer who is part of the EU thinktank the Lisbon Council, which has worked with the European Commission to discuss the single digital market.

But he said the process for establishing a single market is “still a mess and extremely complex” despite continuing improvements in the commission’s efforts.

Kreutzer said there should be an “overall solution” that covers other rights such as movies and books if the EU succeeds in creating a truly single digital market.

Overall, though, the approval of the draft rules is an “important development”, he added, as the EU parliament is now set to consider them.

The legal affairs committee adopted the draft rules by 22 votes to 0, with 0 abstentions. 

This article was first published on 10 July 2013 in World IP Review

legal affairs committee, eu parliament, single digital market, mixcloud, lisbon council

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