European Union seeking changes to music licensing laws that stifle online music stores

The European Union is seeking changes to current music licensing rules that prevent companies such as Apple with its iTunes Store from easily setting up an EU-wide online music store. If the ruling gets passed, it could force music royalty-collection societies to pass their revenue streams to their rivals if they fail to license music to online services in multiple countries. Bloomberg. reports:

Music copyright licenses are granted on a national basis in the EU so consumers can only download music from an iTunes store in their home country. The EU has sought to promote pan-European licensing for years, and the commission issued an antitrust decision in 2008 against national agencies that collect royalties on behalf of artists.

Under current rules, European consumers “have less access to innovative services,” EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said today. “It’s not surprising that young consumers look elsewhere than the legal” online music stores.

As an example, Apple launched its iTunes Store in the UK, France and Germany way back in June 2004. It took a further seven years for the same service to be rolled out in Poland, Hungary and ten other European countries; they eventually got access to iTunes in 2011. The reason that it took so long according to Apple was all down to problems obtaining licensing rights from publishers and royalty collecting societies.

The music industry along with the TV and movie industries really need to stop living in the past and realign their business models to reflect the massive change in the way we access media. One thing is certain, as long as they continue to make it hard to legally acquire their content, the less they will sell and the more money they will lose to illegal downloads.

Source: Bloomberg