What is at Stake in Europe: Possible Consequences on the Development of our Tools


Copyright legislation in Europe is under discussion in the European Institutions – again. The two main discussions: the implementation of the directive for the Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) and the Digital Single Market Strategy. This, and the increasing demand for information and transparency at consumer level increases the need for increasing the efficiency and quality for the exchange of copyright information.

In February of 2014, the European Union agreed on a Directive for Collective Management Organizations. The focus of the Commission was on regulating and harmonising the governance and transparency of CMO’s and on the multi-territorial licensing of music rights. The Directive introduces a framework for the supply of multi-territorial licences for online musical works. By setting certain minimum standards for CMOs that engage in multi-territorial licensing, it should become easier for service providers to obtain licences, which, in turn, should improve the development and rollout of new goods and services. The 28 countries of the union should implement the Directive into their own legislation by April 2016.

But it’s not all politics. As consumers get used to being able to access information there is less and less consideration with organization that are not able to provide information. The expectancy of the market, the demand of the public is that knowledge and information is available and shared. Our members and colleagues expect that information on territorial (“where is xx licensed?”), copyright information (“who are the rights-holders?”) and financial information (“when will I receive remuneration?”) is ready available at their fingertips.

It is unclear what the consequences of the new European legislation are. There is a tendency for CMO’s in Europe to converge; PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA cooperate in a joint project for licensing and processing, as do SACEM, SABAM, SGAE, Artisjus, SIAE, SPA and SUISA.

The strain on back-offices will increase; not only for those CMO’s participating in a hub that have to abide by the rules. In any case, they will need to find a way to license those parts of the repertoire that needs to be licensed on a multi-territorial basis, otherwise they will lose their members who wish to do so. The exchange of copyright information is essential to solving this issue.

The Digital Single Market Strategy, which is a project of the European Commission to further development of a single digital market in order to generate jobs and income, will also affect the way copyright laws within Europe work, even though it is at this time unclear to which extent, and how intrusive the changes will be. As the Commission states it: “it is time to make the EU's single market fit for the digital age – tearing down regulatory walls and moving from 28 national markets to a single one. This could contribute €415 billion per year to the European economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.”

The aim of the European Union is to make copyright more European-centred, with less differences between European countries, more harmonization of copyright regimes and specifically to make copyrighted materials easier accessible throughout the European Union.

The European Commission is looking for legislature that can be implemented timely, and adds to the image of a single, united Europe. As the Juncker Commission has proclaimed the development of the Digital Single Market a priority, the first issue to tackle is the accessibility of digital services throughout Europe. Geo-blocking, (the commercial practices that prevent online customers from accessing and purchasing a product or a service from a website based in another member state, or which automatically re-route them to a local site) is now the main target. It is unclear on how the Union wants to tackle this problem, but it will undoubtedly lead to a wish for even more knowledge and insight in data.

Last but not least; the European CMO’s, their umbrella organization GESAC and other European groups such as IFPI push hard to make the European Union address the transfer of value that is taking place on the online market. Intermediary services provide consumers with materials that fall under copyright protection without remunerating authors. These services claim exemption because of a safe harbour provision in the European law. If this exemption will no longer apply to these intermediary services, they will be licensed in which case the value of copyright will increase in the digital arena and the tools that FastTrack developes will contribute to right holders getting paid timely and accurately.


Robbert Baruch – Chairman of the FastTrack Communications Taskforce and Manager Public Affairs at Buma / Stemra

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