Ending days of intense speculation at MIDEM, Universal Music Publishing Group has set up a digital licensing scheme in Europe.

The publisher has formed a joint venture with French society SACEM which allows that society and France's mechanical rights society SDRM to grant pan-European digital licensing for the publisher's English language and French language repertoire.

In a twist from its competitors, UMPG is still allowing other European societies to grant rights within their individual territories. Nevertheless, the publisher and SACEM hope that other national societies will join with them as a one-stop shop.

That approach differs from EMI Music Publishing’s digital licensing scheme, which grants exclusive rights for its Anglo-American repertoire for pan-European licenses to a venture formed between Britain's MCPS-PRS Alliance and Germany's GEMA, called CELAS.

By forming a joint venture with SACEM, UMPG also has a 50% vote in deciding how its repertoire is represented by SACEM. Since major publishers don't hold half the seats on collecting societies governing boards, this arrangement permits Universal more control over the repertoire that its songwriters and other rights holders have granted to the publisher.

UMPG chairman/CEO David Renzer tells Billboard.biz that the publisher conducted an extensive due diligence process with its own IT executives to find the best licensing fit for the company.

SACEM chairman/CEO Bernard Miyet and SDRM CEO Thierry Desurmont made the announcement with Renzer and UMPG exec VP international Andrew Jenkins today at MIDEM.

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