A roll call of Europe's leading recorded music industry executives grabbed a rare opportunity yesterday to meet with the German chancellor and raise the issue of the alarming downturn of the national market.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is also president of the European Union, held court with a team of 15 executives from 6pm yesterday evening.

During the one-hour meeting, the industry leaders urged the Chancellor and government ensure that the industry had the appropriate tools to combat piracy, engage Internet Service Providers in the fight against copyright infringement online, and help control the epidemic of CD-R copying.

The delegation urged the German government to enact a set of key points, namely:

* Introduce an obligation on ISPs to terminate service to subscribers abusing the service to make infringing content available
* Permit CD burning only from own legally purchased original and prohibiting copying by third parties
* Improve the German draft law implementing the EU Enforcement Directive to ensure proper tools to fight piracy
* Ensure that the EU plays an active role in the WTO case against China on Intellectual Property enforcement and market access
* Urge the Czech government to clean up the huge pirate markets on the Czech-German border
* Support an improvement in the length of the EU term of protection on sound recordings to match the level of protection provided in the U.S.

Attendees included Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO, Universal Music Group International; Jean-Francois Cecillon, chairman and CEO, EMI Music International; Patrick Vien, chairman and CEO, Warner Music International; and Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, CEO of Sony BMG Music Entertainment and speaker of the delegation.

Another participant, Michael Haentjes, chairman of the German IFPI and CEO edel music, told the Chancellor, "As long as there are 14 illegally downloaded tracks for every legally downloaded one on the Internet, there is no chance of the electronic distribution of music developing. Copyright law in its current form does not yet reflect the realities of the digitalized and globalized world."

All parties agreed to confidentiality. However, sources close to the Chancellor tell Billboard.biz that Merkel is keen to protect creative rights and she will urge the G8 summit in June to take efforts to substantially improve international copyright legislation. The G8 summit of world leaders will take place in Heiligendamm, Germany from June 6 - 8.

A member of the 15-strong delegation said the Chancellor confirmed her help to overcome the problems affecting the German market, which has shrunk by about 50% since 2000, according to the IFPI. One participant said, "Chancellor Merkel, was so well informed...and was able to discuss with the industry representatives with a profound knowledge".

An upbeat John Kennedy, chairman and CEO of IFPI, commented: "We left the meeting appreciative of the fact that the Chancellor understood the nature of the problems we are facing and is willing to play a role in seeking a solution to them. If the German government acts now, we are confident that the German music industry could reverse the decline and be viable again in three to five years."

Steffen Kampeter, a conservative CDU member of parliament and budget spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary party, was also optimistic. "Seldom before has a delegation from the private sector met with such understanding on the part of a head of government as the recorded music industry," Kampeter said. "It is now up to IFPI to continue seeking political understanding for its problems."

The discussion was also attended by the minister of culture and media Bernd Neumann, who in the past has come out in support of the music industry.

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