Key committee gives OK.

A key European Parliament committee confirmed plans today (July 13) to overhaul the European Union's complex rules on collective licensing for online music.

Members of the European Parliament in the Committee on Culture and Education voted to back plans to give rightsholders and commercial users of copyright-protected material a choice of their preferred means of licensing. The plans—proposed by the European Commission—aim to create a system ensuring musical rights can be cleared efficiently on an EU-wide basis, so that the European online market can catch up with that in the U.S.

The Parliament resolution, drafted by Greek MEP Manolis Mavrommatis, says right-holders should be able to choose a collective rights manager (CRM), determine the entrusted online rights and their territorial scope and the right to withdraw the rights from the CRM or to transfer them to another. The resolution calls for better governance of CRMs, through improved transparency, non-discrimination and accountability rules. It also calls on EU member governments to reform the system so that commercial users—like TV and radio stations, Internet music services, bars, night-clubs, restaurants, etc.—duly pay equitable royalties to the right-holders.

Under the new rules, different online services may require different forms of EU-wide licensing policies. The rules also propose scrapping territorial restrictions and customer allocation provisions in existing licensing contracts, while leaving rightsholders who do not want to make use of those contracts the possibility of tendering their repertoire for EU-wide direct licensing.

The plan applies only to services provided on the Internet, such as simulcasting, webcasting, streaming, downloading or online "on-demand" services and music services provided to mobile phones.

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