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Europe to tidy up online music "mess"

Licensing system to simply music distribution

Providers of online music services in Europe should benefit from a new one-stop licensing system aimed at simplifying the complex process of obtaining music distribution rights across the continent.

The cross-border licensing scheme, announced today by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), will allow companies providing online music services to obtain a licence for a wide range of music in all participating regions from a single collecting society.

Presently, online music providers, including mobile phone operators and internet companies, must deal separately with collecting societies in each country or approach record companies directly - an option they will still have under the new scheme.

The music licensing business in Europe has been "a mess" because of the complexity of dealing with numerous groups to acquire online music rights in each country, said Bruce Gibson, a senior analyst at Juniper Research.

"Anything that can transcend borders and make the licensing process easier and faster is going to be a stimulus to the market," Gibson said.

To be successful the new scheme will require support from collecting agencies. The IFPI said it expected more than 40 collecting societies to sign up.

The cross-border effort is in line with a recommendation from the European Commission that urges rights holders to streamline the licensing of online music rights, the IFPI said.


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