Unanimous JURI vote on Collective Rights Management directive

By EDRi · July 17, 2013

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Deutsch: [EP-Rechtsausschuss: Einstimmige Entscheidung zur kollektiven Rechteverwertung |]

The proposal from the European Commission for a Directive on collective
management and related rights and multi-territorial licensing of rights
in musical works for online uses in the internal market (hereafter
Collective Rights Management Directive) was a good start to put an end
to some of the unreasonable practices by collecting societies around

On 9 July, the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted on the report lead
by Marielle Gallo (EPP, France) amending the Collective Rights
Management Directive. The report passed unanimously.

Broadly speaking, the final text brokered by Gallo represents an
improvement on the original proposal from the European Commission. One
of the main improvements is on the transparency of the collective
management organisations (CMOs). The list of data that have to be public
has been significantly extended, including the repertoires and rights
managed, standard licensing contracts and applicable tariffs, a list of
representation agreements and any information on works for which one or
more rightholders have not been identified. This is a precondition to
ensure fast, efficient and transparent licensing.

On licensing specifically and the relation between users and CMOs, EU
case law on tariffs has been codified and the amendments to the text
propose to speed up the process of granting licences, which would allow
innovative services to emerge faster in the EU market, to the benefit of
all stakeholders. The redistribution of the amounts collected to artists
and creators should also happen faster. The rules will apply to all CMOs
regardless of their financial situation or number of employees. The
possibility for CMOs to limit the re-use of information has been
deleted, which is very important to the much-needed freedom for content
creators to change CMOs.

The bad news however is that the Committee has deleted some important
provisions. References to the Services Directive (2006/123/EC) were
deleted, which is likely to result in a long and tedious legal battle to
clarify the situation, since there is no exception from competition law
and the Treaties still apply. Much worse is that the Directive is
essentially toothless now, as the provisions on sanctions have been
deleted. While the individual freedom of artists to dispose of their
work is clearly recognised in the text voted in JURI, this freedom is
significantly weakened by the possibility offered to CMOs to determine
rules preventing misuses of the right of artists to withdraw their
rights or terminate their authorisation. It is difficult to imagine that
such a rule will create harmonisation and it will definitely create
legal uncertainty.

Finally, some parts constitute an improvement but they could have gone
further. Collecting and keeping money collected by CMOs on orphan works
is problematic. The European Parliament is trying to improve the
situation by reducing the time the money can be kept and by putting
rules into place to avoid misuse of this undistributed money. However,
the idea of having a completely separate fund for this money has been
rejected. Although the JURI’s vote to recognise non-commercial licenses
is a good first step, it falls short of a proper recognition of the
artist’s autonomy to choose a licence. According to the adopted text,
CMOs will have to allow their members to grant non-commercial licences,
but it is unfortunate that Ms Gallo’s initial proposal to allow creators
to have their rights managed on a per-work basis, was not in the
compromises. However, it seems that one of Mr Engström’s (Greens)
amendment, that was adopted, does offer this possibility to artists.
Let’s hope that this provision survives the final first reading vote in
a European Parliament plenary session later this year.

If there are some very good amendments, there are also some bad ones and
some which could have been better. However, in light of tenor of many of
the amendments she was faced with, the Rapporteur did quite a good job,
and having a unanimous vote on a legislative copyright dossier is a rare
achievement. The discussion is however not over, so let’s just hope that
the positive developments will be maintained.

The final report including the compromise amendments is not published yet.

Proposal for a Directive of the European Commission

Draft Report from Marielle Gallo (EPP, Rapporteur on the file)

Proposed amendments by the other members of the Legal Affairs Committee

(Contribution by Marie Humeau – EDRi)