The Legal Affairs Committee says there should be binding legislation on the online music market, ensuring European cultural diversity is safeguarded.
Reacting to the Commission's recommendation proposing to open up the market to competition, MEPs in the committee were critical both of the procedure chosen and the substance. By approving the own-initiative report by Katalin Lévai on the cross border management of copyright for online music services, MEPs in the committee criticise Commission's decision to put forward a non-binding recommendation and call instead for a framework directive to be proposed under the codecision procedure.
This would also have the advantage of allowing Parliament fully to participate to the legislative process. The committee says this new proposal should guarantee the protection of EU cultural diversity and safeguard small artists and local repertoires. At present, music artists' rights are controlled by Collective Rights Management societies (CRMs), each enjoying a national monopoly. Artists are represented by their national CRM society in their own Member State and in the other EU countries by virtue of reciprocal bilateral agreements.
The European Commission proposes, in its recommendation, to open up the copyright market to competition. Licensing of online rights is often restricted by territory and those interested in trading music on the web have to negotiate in each Member State with the respective CRM. The Commission proposes to create multi-territorial and pan-European licenses and to let the artists choose which CRM should represent them, regardless to where they reside. The Commission says this would enhance both competition and technological innovation.
Controlled competition to safeguard diversity
According to the Legal Affairs Committee, however, this proposal risks hampering national and local music markets, instead of benefiting the stakeholders, such as artists and publishers. MEPs in the committee therefore propose introducing controlled competition to encourage modernization and competitiveness in the online music market, while protecting cultural diversity and creativity.
MEPs agree with the Commission that pan-European licenses should be available from any CRM. Nevertheless, they ask the Commission to ensure, in its new proposal, the protection of local and niche repertoires by asking CRMs to provide consumers with a diversified range of music products. They call for measures to avoid strengthening the position of most profitable artists at detriment of lower-earning ones and to assure that all right-holders, irrespective of their nationality, receive a fair share of royalties. (EP Press)