EC launches initiative to grow digital revenues

Michel BarnierEuropean commissioner Michel Barnier has spearheaded a new industry-wide initiative to encourage growth in online European music revenues.

The Licences for Europe project was launched at the beginning of February to  facilitate dialogue between all industry stakeholders, from songwriters, collecting societies and media groups to internet platforms, online service operators and consumers. Together, they will work to find short term, practical and operational answers to build a better pan-European digital infrastructure by the end of this year.

Barnier believes that consultation is absolutely crucial in this process. Speaking at the midem conference earlier this year, he said: ‘The vision of Europe can’t be constructed in an office in Brussels; it has to be built brick by brick out in the field.’

The Licences for Europe initiative will have four main focuses:

  • Cross-border portability of services offering online access to content; making it easier to access online music and video services across international borders and easier to maintain continuity as users travel from country to country
  • Online availability of European films
  • Obtaining the necessary licences for user generated content and smaller user licensing
  • Tapping into the potential of new text and data mining activities

The initiative will complement the long term aims of the ongoing Collective Rights Management (CRM) Directive, which is expected to be delivered for publication in 2014 and put into practice across all member states by 2015.

The CRM Directive is intended to provide a framework to ensure all collective rights management organisations operating in Europe meet minimum standards of transparency and governance. It also promotes multi-territorial licensing that meets robust standards.

This should enable commercial users – including music service providers, television channels and video-on-demand service providers – to secure multi-territory licences and have greater access to all European music repertoires.

PRS for Music has played a key role in ensuring the CRM Directive’s objectives are met by providing members with transparent reporting structures, accurately matching music usage against copyright works and making multi-territory licences available.

The organisation is currently working with other collecting societies to establish and fund a pan-European copyright hub and Global Repertoire Database (GRD), both of which are proceeding through design phases.

Anglo-American music repertoires are currently easily accessible to users via multi-territory licences and these two initiatives will enable all European repertoires to be opened up to a global market in a similar way with great economic and cultural benefits.

The CRM Directive has potential to greatly benefit PRS for Music members. Improved transparency across the European Union will deliver more revenue at greater speed from all the collecting societies managing rights on our behalf across Europe.