U.K.'s PRS wins Buma case

Court blocks Pan-European license

LONDON -- U.K. collecting society the Performing Right Society has a won a court case to prevent its Dutch equivalent, Buma, from issuing an unauthorized pan-European license for online rights.

Buma announced on July 19 that it had issued such a license to online music provider Beatport, claiming it covered worldwide repertoire including that controlled by PRS. However, the Dutch society is not authorized to include PRS repertoire outside the Netherlands in any multiterritory license.

PRS filed a lawsuit with a Dutch court and in a ruling Monday, the judge ordered Buma to refrain from granting licenses that offered the use of PRS artists' work outside of the Netherlands. He found Buma offered "no convincing arguments" of its case.

"We are disappointed that Buma decided to act in the way it did but pleased that the judge has upheld the contract terms between PRS and Buma, confirming that no society can issue licenses without the express agreement of the other," Karen Buse, managing director of international for the MCPS-PRS Alliance, said in a statement.

"PRS welcomes fair and healthy competition for members across Europe and we look forward to working with all collection societies in the future to provide the best possible service to songwriters and music publishers.

"We shall also continue to operate our own successful and legal Pan-European licensing scheme; making it easy and efficient for online music services across Europe to access the music they need to support and grow their businesses."

The verdict follows a European Commission ruling last month, which stated that CISAC, the umbrella trade group for performing right societies, must remove all obstacles impeding the pan-European licensing system after losing its battle with European regulators.

The Brussels-based commission described its ruling as "an antitrust decision prohibiting societies from restricting competition," and called for the cessation of territorial restrictions that prevent a collecting society from offering licenses to commercial users outside their domestic territory.

In response, CISAC said the ruling will lead to "catastrophic fragmentation of repertoire."
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