Warner/Chappell Music today (June 2) launched a system designed to simplify the European licensing process for digital music services.

Warner/Chappell Music today (June 2) launched a system designed to simplify the European licensing process for digital music services.

Under the Pan-European Digital Licensing initiative, Warner/Chappell will designate several European collecting societies as its non-exclusive licensing agents. The publishing giant will authorize each of the designees to grant pan-European digital licenses in its Anglo-American repertoire.

Until now, digital music services wishing to deliver content across Europe have had to obtain licenses from at least 25 separate collection societies.

Warner/Chappell's P.E.D.L. project comes after the European Commission -- the European Union's regulatory arm -- published its recommendations on Oct. 12, 2005 to streamline the rules on pan-European collective licensing.

On the heels of that recommendation, the United Kingdom's MCPS-PRS Alliance and Germany's GEMA in January announced a groundbreaking joint business entity, the aim of which is to exclusively administer pan-European online and mobile licenses for certain repertoire of EMI Music Publishing, which forged the arrangement.

Executives at Warner/Chappell said the latest development would benefit both digital music services and the music publisher's songwriters.

"We are confident this initiative will lead to a new and evolved relationship with collection societies-one in which our songwriters, and partners, along with digital music services, can flourish and that ultimately provides consumers with access to a wider array of digital content," comments Warner/Chappell Music's chairman/CEO Richard Blackstone.

"Going forward," he adds, "I am hopeful that this is the first of a number of initiatives that help move music publishers to the forefront of new business models in these exciting times."

Beginning today, the music publisher will issue all European collection societies with the criteria they must meet to be considered as a pan-European agent. The publishing giant will review the responses and select "several" collection societies to administer the digital rights for its Anglo-American repertoire on a non-exclusive basis.

Warner/Chappell says it expects to expand the program in due course to include continental European repertoire either on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis.

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