EU Media Companies Fear Digital Royalties Changes Would Harm Culture

At least six European media and telecoms groups are lobbying the European Commission to change the way copyright royalties collections handle digital music and other content in the continent. The commission in February 2006 began antitrust proceedings against the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), arguing artists should not be compelled to use its member societies exclusively. CISAC responded by agreeing to allow artists to use any one of its 18 European members, each of which currently acts as a trustee for royalties in only their home nation. The guidelines refer only to content transmitted over the internet, satellite and cable.

The EC had invited comment by this Monday; now the FT has obtained a letter in which Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, RTL, ProSiebenSat 1, Liberty Global, SBS Broadcasting and others oppose the proposal. They warn their businesses and the continent’s national cultural diversities would be risked: “Such fragmentation would result in regional and national linguistic repertoires either not being played or paid…The proposed remedies would also lead to the disappearance of many smaller authors’ rights societies and would therefore eliminate important competitors.” The broadcasters instead called for “a system of one-stop shopping for the global repertoire”.