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Europe's online music players get a break from new EU copyright law

Europe's online music players get a break from new EU copyright law

Legal streaming and downloading will be cheaper and easier, say lawmakers

Online music providers such as Spotify, iTunes and Last.fm have been given a boost from a new European Union law approved on Tuesday.

The new Collective Rights Management Directive was approved by the European Parliament by 640 votes to 18, with 22 abstentions. Under the law, online music service providers in the E.U. will be able to obtain licenses from collective management organizations that are valid across the entire 28-country bloc. Currently management organizations representing authors' rights are generally confined to single countries.

With licenses covering more than one member state, service providers should find it easier to offer streaming music services across the E.U. It also means that Internet users will have more legal access to copyright-protected content.

This directive is a clear signal that copyright can be easily adapted to the Internet and that copyright has an essential role to play in the digital economy, according to French member of the European Parliament, Marielle Gallo.

However in order to be able to offer these multi-territory licenses, collective management organizations will be required to demonstrate that they can process data from service providers showing when music is downloaded or streamed, and that they can match this data to the music by artists they represent.

There are currently more than 250 collective management organizations in the E.U. and those that wish to offer a multi-territory license under the new law will have to rapidly invoice online service providers on a per-work basis and to pay the amounts due to each right holder no later than nine months from the end of the financial year in which the rights revenue was collected.

The European Commission, which proposed the law, says this should facilitate the rolling out of new online services.

The law still has to be formally approved by the European Council, but this is expected. After that, E.U. member countries will have 24 months to incorporate the directive into national law.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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