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Europe Paves Way for Improved Access to Online Music

Posted: 20th Oct, 2009 By: MarkJ
The European Commission (EC) and music industry have agreed to a new set of general principles that should result in improved access of consumers to music online. The move is also important because easier access to new content is by far and away the most effective weapon against illegal broadband file sharing downloads.

European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, said:

"European consumers want and deserve better online music offerings. Today's agreement by the Roundtable on core principles represents real progress in this direction. It is the first time that players from various parts of the market have agreed on a common roadmap. I also welcome the concrete steps and commitments that have been made and which should improve the availability of online music for consumers."

The Roundtable participants signed up to a joint statement in which:

* they committed to pursuing new EU licensing platforms comprising the repertoires of several collecting societies. These platforms should consolidate the widest possible repertoire in their catalogues and should be based on voluntary cooperation among right owners.

* they agreed that collective rights managers should adhere to certain objective, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria to allow other entities to deliver multi-territorial licences.

* they set up a working group to create a common framework for the identification and exchange of rights ownership information. This will make it easier for commercial users to identify the relevant right owners and secure the necessary rights.


Following the Roundtable:

* Apple announced that it was encouraged by progress towards more efficient online music licensing and that it is optimistic in making the iTunes store available to consumers in more European countries in the coming year.

* EMI announced that it expects to take an important step forward in digital licensing in Europe via forthcoming non-exclusive deals with the Spanish (SGAE) and French (SACEM) collecting societies.

* Amazon stressed that it is continuously working to provide customers a broad selection of products and low prices on all of its European websites and now enables delivery of all physical product categories into all 27 Member States of the EU. Amazon highlighted that it was committed to continue working to provide customers the broadest possible selection of online music offerings. Amazon welcomed the joint principles as an important step to evolve the EU licensing framework and facilitate online distribution of digital music for customers across Europe.
The move should make it possible to build a common, non-exclusive portal able to offer the largest possible repertoire to online services on a pan-European basis. It should also foster fairer pricing and open up a wider array of music to everybody.

However the onus is still very much on Rights Holders to get their act together and foster greater access to the latest content (including new movie releases) via online methods. Sadly to date they've always been rather slow to recognise this and naturally some consumers have gravitated towards illegal means as an alternative.
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