The European Commission has appealed to the music sector to say whether the planned reforms in the way royalties are collected are enough to ensure that collecting societies are not operating a de facto monopoly.

The market testing call comes after the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) pledged to provide a multi-territory licensing framework for musical performing rights, in a bid to assuage the Commission's antitrust concerns.

CISAC said its proposed reform bring the association "one step closer" to resolving the Commission's ongoing investigation into the way collecting societies gather royalties for artists from Internet sites and through satellite and cable broadcasting.

However, the Commission has warned that this is only one step in the process, which involves a one-month consultation with other players in the music sector. "These commitments could resolve the problem as they ensure more competition between societies for licenses," said a Commission Competition spokesman. "The commitments are at least worth testing. But it is not because we are testing them that they are OK. "

The CISAC commitments, signed by 18 European authors' societies and the Commission, involve three significant reforms: multi-territorial European Internet, satellite and cable retransmission service licenses; an end to the exclusivity clause from its model contract; and European creators and publishers will be able to move freely between authors' societies.

It was in January 2006 that the Commission announced a formal investigation into CISAC's licensing arrangements, after preliminary findings that it was operating a de facto monopoly for European collecting societies. It particularly singled out the membership restrictions obliging authors to transfer their rights only to their own national collecting society, and the territorial restrictions obliging commercial users to obtain a license only from the domestic collecting society.