LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – The Copyright Tribunal has made an in…

LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – The Copyright Tribunal has made an interim decision regarding collective copyright licensing and digital downloading and streaming. The decision centred on how much should be paid in royalties when music is used or transferred using online services. Such online services include permanent downloads, limited downloads and on-demand streaming/webcasting.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) made the application to the Copyright Tribunal together with a number of major Internet companies (including music download sites) and mobile phone companies. The respondents were the collecting societies protecting the proprietary rights of creators and performers (the Alliance).

The decision emanates from a long-running dispute between companies using digital music and societies tasked to collect royalties for performers and composers. The BPI and other distributors applied to the Copyright Tribunal to settle their collective copyright licensing dispute. In September 2006, a settlement agreement was made between the Alliance and the majority of the industry parties.

The settlement agreement included specific percentage royalties to be paid to collecting societies (on behalf of their members) where music is downloaded or streamed online. However, a number of issues were not agreed in the settlement agreement and the Copyright Tribunal was requested to issue a decision on those outstanding points. The Copyright Tribunal was also requested to approve the percentage royalties in the settlement agreement so that they would apply to persons who were not a party to the agreement.

The Copyright Tribunal endorsed the terms of the settlement agreement, including the percentage royalties. The Copyright Tribunal also gave its decision on outstanding points of disagreement which it had been asked to decide.

The parties have spent £12 million in bringing the action – an amount that reflects the desire for certainty in the industry. The decision confirms the general acceptance of the new online licence as a template by the Copyright Tribunal. It gives the online corporate users of music a degree of confidence in the level of royalties that they will be required to pay when selling or giving away music. By confirming and setting benchmarks, the decision will aid legitimate use of the constantly developing and growing digital music market.

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