Commission puts European music diversity at risk, say authors

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Commission puts European music diversity at risk, say authors04.10.2006 – 17:40 CET | By Helena Spongenberg
EUOBSERVER / FOCUS – The European Commission wants to open up the European market of creative rights management, which will break down the current system of national societies and set up a few pan-European rights management groups. But music authors fear such a move could have grave cultural consequences for Europe.

“New situations demand new approaches,” said EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy on Tuesday (3 October), explaining that the entire music industry has changed dramatically in the digital age.

“I want Europe to have a copyright management framework that embraces new possibilities,” he told a music publishers' congress in Brussels.

“There is a demand for EU-wide licensing, and it is now becoming a realistic option”, Mr McCreevy said. “Insisting upon managing copyright on a territory-by-territory basis makes no sense when there are no borders online.”

Making money
But Irish singer-songwriter and head of the Irish music rights organisation (IMRO), Mike Hanrahan, disagrees.

“McCreevy is missing the core point,” he told the EUobserver.

“The danger is that a few multinational societies will only concentrate on acts that will make more money,” Mr Hanrahan warned, adding that some artist from the smaller levels of Europe's “strong heritage” would not be given airtime and therefore be lost.

Last October the commission presented a non-binding “recommendation” threatening new laws unless societies opened up to competition and found ways to grant pan-EU digital music licences to music.

Brussels also has opened formal proceedings against CISAC (the “International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers”) and the individual national collecting societies.

National creative rights societies – which are run by the creators themselves – fear that opening up the market the way Mr McCreevy wants will lead to the market being run by a few multinational entertainment businesses with money on their minds.

“Only one party is being respected and listened to when preparing these radical changes to the rights that have upheld the creative community of Europe for centuries,” said head of the international council of authors and composers of music (CIAM), Pia Raug.

“How can creators believe in the survival of European cultural diversity when market minds only focus on bundling attractive repertoires?” she asked.

“Creators have always embraced the changes brought on by technology and have always been among the first to understand and integrate it into their works,” stressed Ms Raug, who speaks on behalf of 2 million authors worldwide.

“Rights-holders are already able to authorise a single agent to license and manage the exploitation of their works – not only throughout EU but in fact in the entire world”, she added.

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