On 3 February 2014, the European Parliament adopted new rules for
collective management organisations and for cross-border licences for
online music services. The Directive was adopted by 640 votes in favour,
18 against and 22 abstentions – which is an impressive majority.
On one hand, the text improves the management of collective management
organisations (CMOs), through the improvement of governance,
transparency, better control from the members and faster redistribution
of the amounts collected to the authors and artists. This will hopefully
put an end to some unreasonable practices of CMOs around Europe.
However, in a digital age, the time period proposed for the
redistribution of royalties to artists seems unambitious.
Another key element of the text adopted lies in the possibility for
artists to grant licences for non-commercial purposes. Unfortunately it
does not properly recognise the possibility for authors to manage their
rights on a per-work basis, but it is a helpful step to allow authors to
reach a wider audience and to recognise a certain autonomy which has
been denied to artists by certain CMOs until now.
Regarding music licences, offering online music services across the EU
should be easier as online music service providers will be able to
obtain licences that will cover more than one Member State and could
even be valid across the entire EU territory. This offers new
possibilities for online platforms and technology companies to offer
better services and better access to the European citizens.
On the other hand, there are still unfortunate loopholes in the adopted
Firstly, the Directive does not provide specific sanctions and measures,
but only state in the explanatory recitals that they should be
effective, proportionate and dissuasive. Even if the Directive
establishes a better law, it is nothing without proper enforcement
Secondly, it is a pity that the repertoire and rights managed are not
publicly available, but only provided to rightsholders, other CMOs and
commercial users upon request. This was one of the main improvement on
transparency that the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee had
voted for on last July, before any discussion with the Council of
Finally, references to the Services Directive (2006/123/EC) have been
deleted. Even if Commissioner Barnier insisted during the debate that
the Directive will be neutral and that the scope of the Services
Directive does not change, it is likely to result in a long legal battle
to clarify the situation. This is an unfortunate compromise, where
legislators have de facto given the job of legislating to the judiciary.
The Council still needs to formally approve the text. Once adopted by
the Council, the Member States will have 24 months to implement the
Copyright: cross-border licences for online music services (4.02.2014)
Lack of choice driving demand for film downloads (6.04.2014)
(Contribution by Marie Humeau – EDRi)