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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Monopoly Findings Scaled Back in EU Music Case

(CN) - Music copyright management groups in 20 different EU countries can overturn some findings of anti-competitive practices, the General Court ruled Friday.

The European Commission's original decision stemmed from complaints lodged against the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) and some of its members over refusals to grant EU-wide licenses for broadcast.

While reciprocal representation agreements between CISAC members are legal, regulators found that membership and exclusivity clauses stifle competition by restricting authors and giving the management groups absolute territorial protection.

The commissioners also blasted what they called a concerted practice between the management groups - called collecting societies in Europe - to gain an exclusive hold over the granting of licenses with reciprocal representation agreements.

CISAC and management groups in 24 European countries took the commission to court, seeking to annul the entire finding.

The General Court of the European Union released dozens of decisions Friday that say regulators failed to prove the existence of concerted practice among the groups, even though membership and exclusivity clauses are illegal under EU competition laws.

"The commission, first, did not have documents proving the existence of concertation between the collecting societies as regards the territorial scope of the mandates which they grant each other," the Luxembourg-based court said in a statement. "Secondly, it did not render implausible the applicants' explanation that the parallel conduct of the collecting societies at issue was not the result of concertation, but rather of the need to fight effectively against the unauthorized use of musical works."

The court dismissed the action by Swedish group STIM for failing to raise its arguments against concerted practice soon enough. Groups from Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands also dropped out of the action.

The management groups collect more than $7 billion in royalties each year and represent a million songwriters and performers in the 27-nation European Union.

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