The IFPI today announced a pan-European licensing initiative aimed at streamlining cross border licensing for web based and mobile streamed music services, which is currently a mine field for prospective services. Instead of being compelled to approach each territory separately (or rights holders directly), under the proposed framework services will be able to deal with just one collection society for pan-regional rights clearance.
The two agreements announced both still require collection societies to sign up, but they are an important opportunity for the rights bodies. For, as the IFPI points out, European collection societies are finding themselves under increasing and unwelcome scrutiny from the EU, which recently issued an official objection to the societies’ reciprocal agreements framework – the foundation stone of their international scope.
In short, the EU thinks it is time for the collection societies to catch up with the 21st century. However, it’s more than a little unfair to portray collection societies en-masse as outmoded and outdated. Most, if not all, have elements pushing hard for change and some, such as the MCPS/PRS have proven relatively innovative. However they continue to struggle with the conflicting world views of established licensing practices founded in the analogue world, and of the rapidly moving digital arena that creates new potential licensing models almost as quickly as startups secure VC funding.
This framework will doubtlessly ruffle some feathers throughout the collection society arena (can we really call it a marketplace yet?) but if universally signed up to would send a strong positive message to the EU.