Sunday, September 21, 2008

BPN 1227 European collecting societies quarrel among each other

The Dutch collecting society BUMA/Stemra has been denied the right to offer pan-European music licenses in no less than two courtcases. Recently Ms Neelie Kroes, Commissioner of the European Commission, announced that the collecting societies had to demolish their monopolistic structure of regional license areas. The first attempt of BUMA/Stemra has gone wrong badly.

On 25 August 2008, Mannheim Regional Court granted an interim injunction against the download provider as well as BUMA/Stemra. The injunction prohibits from making specific musical works from GEMA's repertoire available to the public over the Internet in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany without having previously obtained the consent of GEMA. The German collecting society administers the copyrights of more than 60,000 members (composers, lyricists and music publishers) as well as those of over 1 million rights owners round the world. BUMA/Stemra is prohibited from licensing such use. has already recognised the interim injunction as the final ruling for itself.

The Dutch collecting society BUMA/Stemra had announced on 21 July 2008 that it had granted a Pan-European licence allowing to offer the entire worldwide repertoire of music - i.e. also including GEMA's repertoire - online throughout the EU. From GEMA's perspective, BUMA/Stemra is not entitled to do this, as it was granted the right to licence GEMA's repertoire only for uses within its own administrative territory. This standpoint has now been confirmed by Mannheim Regional Court. Like GEMA, the British collecting society PRS has also successfully gone to court against the EU-wide licensing of its repertoire by BUMA/Stemra to

GEMA, for its part, is one of the leading collecting societies in the complex market of Pan-European online licensing. It has, for instance, recently set up a one-stop shop for the Europe-wide licensing of mobile and online use of the Anglo-American repertoire of SONY/ATV Music Publishing. CELAS, the company established by GEMA and the British collecting society, has already been licensing the Anglo-American repertoire of EMI Music Publishing on a Pan-European basis in the online and mobile sector since December 2007. With these models, GEMA can offer Pan-European licences to licensees for the use of extensive repertoires.

Three days earlier the Dutch judge agreed with the British collecting society PRS, that BUMA/STEMRA was not allowed to give a pan-European license for satellite, cable or internet. BUMA/Stemra pleaded that the regional limitations between the collecting societies, part of the Contract of Reciprocal Representation (CRR) from 1973, were not applicable on the licenses of online music as cross border music rights were not in use in 1973.

Dirk Visser, a Dutch lawyer and professor specialised in copyright, named the BUMA/Stemra pan-European deal with a provocation, saying that BUMA/Stemra has triggered a minefield.

Blog Posting Number: 1227

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