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EU proposes reforms to simplify cross-border music licensing

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The European Commission has proposed reforms to licensing regulation which would make it easier for services such as iTunes to provide a consistent music selection across national borders.

European Commission
European Commission

The European Commission is planning to reform regulation around collecting societies — the groups that mediate between rights-holders and service providers — aiming to simplify cross-border music licensing. In a press release, the Commission notes that "new digital technologies are opening up great opportunities for creators, consumers and businesses alike," but acknowledges that existing laws are inadequate to deal with licensing demands of international music stores such as Apple's iTunes.

iTunes is available in every one of the European Union's 27 member states, more than any other legal music service. But, as the New York Times points out, it accounts for just 19 percent of recording industry revenue across the EU. By contrast, iTunes generates almost half of equivalent revenue in the US, according to figures from the IFPI industry body.

The proposed changes would force collecting societies to comply with strict new standards, including a requirement to publish an annual transparency report. The ultimate aim is to prevent situations where societies are too disorganised or ill-equipped to engage in international revenue collection, choosing to simply restrict distribution instead of offering suitable licenses.