EMI Music Publishing Germany has won a guiding lawsuit against the German mobile network T-Mobile at the Federal High Court (BGH) in Karlsruhe.

The court decided that T-Mobile is not allowed to offer mastertones or ringtones with works from the EMI publishing catalog to customers without prior consent.

In the past, the providers of ringtones and mastertones have challenged the need for prior consent from publishers to transfer works to the mobile format, as well as opposing the two-step licensing model for songs that involves the publisher and collecting society GEMA.

The mastertone providers were only willing to pay licenses to GEMA but denied there was a need for separate clearance from the music publishers.

In its decision, the Federal High Court stated that the two-step licensing model is legally correct and that permission is required from music publishers.

"The Federal High Court finally secured legal certainty and clearly denied the [claim] of the provider that the two-step licensing model is not admissible," said EMI's lawyer Jens Schippmann, of the Hamburg based law firm Kamin & Wilke Rechtsanwälte.

He added: "For ringtones and mastertones the original musical work is shortened to 45 seconds, whereas the original work is three to four minutes. Furthermore, the musical work is reduced to a signal and so the original intention of the musical work to entertain the listener does not exist any more. The mastertone and ringtone interrupt the mobile phone owner and so the musical work is used for something different than it was intended in the first place."

The written reasons for the judgement will be released later this year.

Mobile providers make a separate arrangement with the labels for the licensing of recordings.