Europe’s music industry could flourish with improved copyright rules

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The European Commission should work to develop a Collective Rights Management model that is "fit for the digital era and will enable everyone to access music in a legitimate, transparent and efficient manner," writes Nicolas Galibert, chair of the International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP) and president of Sony ATV Music Publishing France.  

The following contribution was produced by Nicolas Galibert.  

"The public hearing of 23 April on the Governance of Collective Rights Management in the EU will explore the relationship between rights managers, members and users and consider the most effective approach to the management of online rights in the new digital age.

Over the past 10 years, rightsholders and collecting societies have made huge strides in adapting to the digital environment, for example in implementing the European Commission's Recommendation for the cross-border management of rights for music services.

The Commission's RTL/CISAC Decision also played a crucial role in reiterating key principles in the area as well as fostering healthy competition in licensing and in the implementation of single market rules.

As the voice of the global music publishing industry, representing rightsholders around the world, ICMP joined forces with the collective management societies in Europe represented by GESAC, to adopt a Common Declaration on governance in collective management societies and on management of online rights in music works. This demonstrates strong cooperation between rightsholders and rights administrators, which ultimately benefits users and consumers as well as rightsholders alike.

However, more needs to be done and we support the Commission's drive to improve EU-wide licensing of online copyright. This is particularly necessary as services such as downloads and webcasting become increasingly Internet-based. We need to create the dynamics that facilitate the routine extension of the benefits of the Recommendation to continental European repertoire, at the core of which is the promotion of transparency and good governance in the relationships between the different parties. Ensuring a level playing field for collecting societies across member states, subject to comparable rules of operation, transparency requirements, governance and scrutiny is another key element.

Equally it is essential to respond to the needs of users in the licensing of all repertoire in the online world and to deliver an effective system that will protect copyright and neighbouring rights and allow creativity to flourish. It is however not just a question of streamlining but also of speed and clarity and, as the Commission has indicated, one requirement is a global repertoire database to hold publicly available registration data and provide services to users. We will need to consider how this will be managed, maintained, financed and worked at an international level to deliver a product that can respond to today's global marketplace, and achieve a level of accuracy beyond what is currently available.

Our members, as rightsholders, need to retain choice as to how their rights are administered and to which society they join and where. Moving forward we must also ensure an equitable and efficient shared system across Europe, which should include standard practices and definitions of rights for collecting societies and a centralised system for managing claims and disputes. Finally, development of a global database will be essential to ensure full transparency in who owns what and to respond to the needs of users.

ICMP would welcome a dependable framework for cross-border activities and collaboration between collecting societies in full respect of competition rules.

Europe has a proud cultural heritage and it is in all of our interests to defend and promote it. We look to the Commission to take this opportunity to develop a Collective Rights Management model that is fit for the digital era and will enable everyone to access music in a legitimate, transparent and efficient manner." 

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