European Digital Single Market Strategy

In 2014, we made a formal submission setting out the case for targeted reform to the EU copyright framework, with a specific focus on clarifying the liability of online platforms. 

These themes formed a basis of a comprehensive engagement programme with senior members of the European Commission and the music industry. 

In September 2016, the European Commission published its Digital Single Market (DSM) copyright reform package including two proposals for changes to copyright legislation.

  • A Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market; and
  • A Regulation laying down the rules on the exercise of copyright and related rights to certain online transmissions of broadcasting organisations and retransmissions of television and radio programmes.

Both the proposed Directive and Regulation directly impact the music industry and  PRS for Music and are now subject to scrutiny and amendment by the European Parliament and Council until approved and adopted into law.

We continue to meet with relevant Members of European Parliament (MEP), EU Council and Commission to influence the amendments and ensure our position and concerns are understood.

In September 2016, the EU Commission published its Digital Single Market (DSM) copyright reform package including a proposal for a Directive on copyright which sets out to modernise the existing copyright framework. 

The Directive has two issues which are of specific relevance:

  1. The legal ambiguity whether, and to what extent, user upload platforms are undertaking an act of copyright; and 
  2. The removal of rightsholders ability to consent before their works are made available

In short, the Commission has proposed solutions to these problems by:

a) Providing clarity that online service providers providing access to the public are “going beyond just the storage of works and performing an act of communication to the public”; and 

b) Establishing that online service providers, which are performing an ‘active’ role, including the promotion and optimisation for presentation, cannot claim the hosting defence for those works.

On behalf of its members, PRS for Music are calling for clarification of copyright law to ensure that all services which make works available online can be licensed, without claiming to be mere hosts of content uploaded by others. This will ensure that all services which provide access to music online fairly pay for the music they use.

On 14 September the European Union Commission published the Proposal for a Regulation laying down rules on the exercise of copyright and related rights applicable to certain online transmissions of broadcasting organisations and retransmissions.
The proposal primarily sought to achieve two things:

  1. Apply the principle of Country of Origin (CoO) licensing to ‘ancillary online services’, that is to any online service operated by the broadcaster, providing simultaneous access to the linear content, catch-up and ancillary material. BBC iPlayer and ITV Player are examples of ancillary online services. 
    Application of the principle would mean that the copyright acts (communication to the public and reproduction) are deemed to occur solely in the member state in which the broadcasting organisation is established.
  2. Establish mandatory collective licensing for retransmission, where it is an unaltered retransmission not provided by cable or online, from one member state to another, provided by a party other than the broadcaster of the initial transmission.

PRS for Music has responded to the Commission’s proposal to express our belief that there is neither a compelling need nor a clear evidence base for the policy objectives set out in the proposed Regulation. PRS for Music acknowledges that there is market demand for multi-territory licensing but advocates industry-led rather than legislative solutions, a prime example being the voluntary Memorandum of Understanding between the European Broadcasting Union and rightsholders. 

View our response submission for the EU Cable Satellite consultation

The regulation is now being debated and amended by the relevant Committees in the EU Parliament and by the EU Council. PRS for Music will continue to promote amendments to minimise any possible extension of country of origin and mandatory collective licensing.