Exclusives issue set to rage on in France.
The commercial court of Paris has ruled against French online retailer VirginMega for selling downloads of Madonna's "Hung Up" last fall, despite not having the license from Warner Music France.
Virginmega.fr, the online portal from Virgin Megastore France and part of retail and media company Lagardere Group, offered the track the week starting Oct. 17 as a reaction to an exclusive deal Warner made with telecom giant France Telecom. VirginMega said its action was intended as a protest against online exclusives.
VirginMega was sentenced on June 22 to pay damages to mobile carrier Orange Orange and France Telecom of €250,000 ($314,7251) each, and €100,000 ($125,8900) to Warner Music France. Together, the three plaintiffs had claimed more than €14 million ($17.6 million) in damages.
None of the parties involved would answer questions from Billboard.biz.
Warner Music France issued a very brief statement expressing their satisfaction that "the commercial court decision allowed them and their artist to have their rights respected."
In a separate statement, VirginMega managing director Laurent Fiscal declared: "Two years ago, we were denouncing Apple's rejection of interoperability. We are satisfied to see that French lawmakers are now taking over the idea [in current discussions on copyright bill]. In the same way, we are forerunners regarding the exclusive sales and we think that the debate between digital stores and labels should go on."
This position is backed by Philippe Person, GM of French music retailer trade body SDSD, of which Virgin Megastore is a member. "The court's interpretation of the case is limited to the question of copyright, without taking into account the competition side of it," Person told Billboard.biz. "Combined with the lack of interoperability, this decision comforts exclusives and the vertical integration of the digital market, where there is no true open competition. I hope that this will allow debates to be re-opened."