NL and BE collecting societies to drop national exclusivity

By EDRi · August 24, 2005

The Belgian and Dutch music copyright collecting societies are to drop
their claims of national exclusivity on the licensing of online rights.
SABAM and BUMA, that manage the music copyrights for authors in Belgium
and in the Netherlands, have announced this intention to the European
Commission, after the Commission started in-depth investigations into the
problems of online music licensing in the EU. In July 2005, the Commission
proposed a serious reform, granting every artist the right to freely
choose a collecting society anywhere in Europe to exploit their online

The European Commission now invites public comments on the proposal from
the two collecting societies. In the notice in the Official Journal about
the consultation, the Commission states: “Given the fact that there is a
single, monopolistic, collecting society per territory in the EEA, and
that all collecting societies enter into such bilateral agreements, this
means that each national collecting society is given absolute exclusivity
for its territory as regards the possibility of granting
multi-territorial/multirepertoire licenses for online music rights.”

The problem with online rights however, is that the two mentioned
collecting societies still have binding contracts with their members to
exercise all their rights, including the exploitation of online rights. An
artist that wishes to offer his own music for free on his own website,
still has to pay for the rights to the collecting society.

Secondly, the collecting societies do not control the neighbouring rights.
In case of webcasting or podcasting, this leads to a serious obstacle in
the development of innovative new services. The Dutch BUMA recently
announced a new flat-fee scheme for podcasting; 35 euro per month for
individual podcasters and 85 euro per month plus 13% of the revenue for
professional podcasters. The proposed fee, high as it is, does not cover
the neighbouring rights, nor does it grant permission from the record
companies. So far the national representative of neighbouring rights SENA
has refused to set a similar cross-border flat-fee and record companies in
the Netherlands shamelessly charge at least 950 euro per year for their

Press release European Commission (17.08.2005)

Commission notice in the Official Journal (17.08.2005)

EDRI-gram: Music: commission wants 1 internet clearing house (14.07.2005)

Dutch podcast license set (20.07.2005)