German collecting society GEMA has submitted an appeal to the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg to have a prohibition order issued by the European Commission overturned.
GEMA has also applied for suspension of the execution of the Commission’s decision pending a court ruling.
In its July ruling, the Commission accused GEMA and 23 other European collecting societies of anti-competitive behavior in connection with the reciprocation contracts for online, satellite transmission and cable retransmission.
CISAC, the global umbrella group for collecting societies, has also submitted an appeal to the court. In a keynote speech at Berlin’s Popkomm this week (Oct. 8), Bee Gee member and president Robin Gibb criticized the EC’s “unhelpful and dogmatic fashion” in relation to its ruling on the “anti-competitive” practices of European performance rights societies.
As proof of such collusion, the Commission cited the fact that practically all collecting societies transfer their own repertoire to the applicable national societies, a system it says prevents competition across Europe.
GEMA’s appeal claims there is a lack of legal clarity in the decision and states that the Commission has overstepped its powers. The society says the decision does not specify the type of conduct that is not permitted, nor how the collecting societies must behave to avoid the unlawful conduct.
In addition, the suit seeks to establish that the Commission’s evidence is insufficient and incorrect with respect to collusion as defined in Article 81 of the Treaty of Rome.
Executive board chairman Harald Heker said: “With this step, GEMA is seeking to protect the current system of national one-stop shops for music rights in the online, satellite and cable transmission markets in the interests of both the holders and users of these rights.”
He added: “The competition being sought by the Commission as a consequence of the abolition of the territorial restrictions in the reciprocation contracts would inevitably result in a decline in copyright royalties, something which is not in the interests of the copyright holders and music publishers which GEMA represents and would result in an irretrievable loss of cultural diversity.”