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European Commissioner Michel Barnier is to send a new copyright law to the European Parliament next  month. The law is aimed at regulating the music collecting societies. It will be followed in September by a proposal on enforcement. The timetable was revealed by Barnier’s deputy chef de cabinet, Kerstin Jorna,  at a conference organised by the German collecting society, GEMA. What is curious is the Commission’s optimism about getting these two initiatives adopted by sometime next year.  

Details of the conference discussion -  called ‘Lost Property, the future of collective rights management in the European Union’' - have just emerged. It was  held by GEMA at the Midem music fest in January. Ms Jorna, a career civil servant and  newcomer to the Internet copyright debate, was on the panel, along with collecting society stalwarts from not only GEMA, but STIM in Sweden.  

 The new law to be presented in April will deal with the business management functions of the collecting societies.  It will impose obligations on them to in respect of audit trails and reporting. The aim is to improve their efficiency. From what can be gathered, it sounds ass though the Commission wants to create a more competitive market-place too. This is something which the collecting societies have been resisting for years, and the provisions will require careful analysis.

Such a law  should perform a much needed function to ease the way for new online music business models. However, it is not clear how the Commission proposes to handle multi-territory rights and  whether there will be any real improvement from the viewpoint of online businesses which want to sell or stream music.

 It was also revealed that the Commission is linking the new law for collecting societies to the IPR enforcement directive (IPRED). Speaking about the collecting society proposal, Ms Jorna said “we hope a consensus will emerge towards 2013”, adding that “the same applies to the text on enforcement […] of course, there are links between the two files”.

 This is dangerous territory for the Commission, as such linkage  could give the rights-holders an unfair leverage over the outcome.

It should not be forgotten that  Commissioner Barnier is French and  has been consistently pushing the copyright agenda desired by President Sarkozy.

 In any event,   the  effectiveness  of the collecting society measures will be determined not only by what the Commission drafts, but by the changes that could be slipped in as it passes through the European Parliament. To say the Commission is being optimistic is an understatement – dreaming might be a better word.

You may re-publish my article under a Creative Commons licence, but you should cite my name and provide a link back to Media and Academics – please cite as Monica Horten, Barnier dreams of  copyright consensus by 2013  19 March   2012 . Commercial users - please contact me.


Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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