When Dot-Coms & Labels Agree (In Principle)
While recording labels and publishers typically agree on the
nature and enforcement of copyright, it does not prevent
them from clashing over alleged infringements of each others
rights, providing much irony for industry observers. Like
when a group of music publishers recently sued Bertelsmann
for providing a lifeline to Napster, thus perpetuating the
infringement of their works.
The last example is Universal Music International's
antitrust complaint to the European Commission against
Europe's copyright collecting societies. UMI's complaint
accuses mechanical rights societies represented by
Paris-based BIEM (Bureau International des Sociétés Gérant
les Droits d'Enregistrement et de Reproduction Mécanique) of
imposing terms & conditions for the right to manufacture
sound recordings for sale in Europe that are "unfair and in
breach of EU antitrust laws" and calls on the Commission to
intercede with a solution that "work[s] fairly and
efficiently for everyone's benefit."
The complaint specifically alleges that:
* BIEM and its members are abusing their monopoly over
* that the royalty, a percentage of the wholesale price of a
sound recording and presently representing around 11% of the
average retail price, "is by a significant margin the
highest in the world"
* that the terms prevent record labels from developing
products and pricing that meet the needs of the market,
including penalizing discounts offered to wholesale and
retail customers, selling records at reduced prices and
including more than a certain number of tracks on albums.
* that together, these result in "higher prices and in a
reduction in consumer choice"
For anyone familiar with the hurdles faced until very
recently by dot-coms in acquiring licenses from record
labels, this is the ultimate in irony. Replace "copyright
collecting societies" with "recording labels" in UMI's
complaint and you'd find the exact same arguments advanced
by innumerable dot-coms against the recording labels,
whether they be OMDs such as MP3.com, file sharing systems
like Napster or webcasters that fought the RIAA for a
percentage on revenue formula over the industry's inflated
per track-per listener royalty structure.
Related News from Mi2N:
» UMI Files Further Submission To European Commission In Anti-trust Complaint Against BIEM's Excessive Mechanical Royalty Rate