EU Competition Commissioner warns online music stores: change or be changed

“EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes has warned the music industry that she is prepared to take action to ensure a competitive online marketplace across member states, especially for digital music sales,” Stephen Withers reports for iTWire.

“Kroes latest comments came while she was addressing a round table meeting called to discuss the opportunities and barriers to increased online retailing in Europe,” Withers reports. “Those present at the meeting were Ben Verwaayen of technology company Alcatel-Lucent, Bernard Arnault from luxury goods group LVMH, eBay’s John Donahoe, John Elkann from Fiat, music label EMI’s Roger Faxon, musician Sir Mick Jagger, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Bernard Miyet of French performing rights association SACEM, and Peter Vicary Smith from UK consumer organisation Which?.”

“‘Consumers see the internet, and the borders that exist online, and feel that they are not getting a fair deal,’ Kroes told the meeting,” Withers reports. ‘Consumers often find that the products they are looking for are not available to them. As Competition Commissioner, I want to know why.'”

Withers reports, “Kroes sounds determined to put this issue to bed: ‘if a solution to the problems we face today is not found, then the music industry can hardly complain if regulators or enforcers step in,’ she warned.”

Full article here.

19 Comments

  1. But if a business wants to compete buy buying products outside the E.U.(from the grey market) and selling inside the E.U. at more competitive prices they get heavily fined. If the E.U. are for competition and fair markets then they have a funny way of showing it. Consumers in Europe and especially in the U.K. are consistenly gouged on most products. Perhaps they should allow the grey market to function to try and inject a bit of real competition.

    P.S. If this is filled with spelling errors it’s because Firefox’s spellcheck doesn’t appear to work on my Mac. Yes, it is turned on in prefs.

  2. isn’t that more of an issue with the labels and distributors? i always wondered why i can’t purchase a movie from japan until some shit company decides to liscense it for release here in the west. usually it incorporates brutalizing the movie’s branding and artwork. maybe editing it, changing the score etc.
    i think we live in an big enough international community that we don’t need these silly things when it comes to online media. i say specifically to online media such as music, games, movies and tv shows. i can understand the border issues for physical products though (like tvs etc)

    sorry if my writing sucks. it the end of the day, and my last tea hasn’t kicked in yet.

  3. I’d Like to see all the Borders removed for online Music, Videos, & Movies. Basically anything that is delivered via the internet. I should be able to buy and download.

    The Rights and payment issues created by the Music, Video and Movie companies are damaging the consumers rights worldwide. Further they have always been designed to created restrictions, limitations and higher prices. Let’s say a small band in Norway has a contract with a small indie label in Norway. In the old days this forced the indie label to make worldwide distribution deals with major labels (keeping the small indie label small and the small band from making money from say huge sales in the UK and the US. But, now it would be more adventitious for the small band in Norway to remain unsigned and seek international distribution via an online store. However most online stores have contracts with the major labels and the contracts specify regional or by country rights for all music not just the major labels because it involves the collection societies that by mandate collect money on behalf of all artists & labels, even if the artist is part of the society and is not eligible for society payments.

    Artist get screwed by the labels and by the collection societies that have the government mandates to collect the money. In the end the labels win, as they can restrict releases by rights regions and country for all Artists. It hurts the artists, consumer and the overall music culture. To fix the issue there needs to be one rights region the World. The EU will not be able to fix this it is going to take WIPO to step in and fix it. In the end it will fix itself by all the major labels either becoming one giant mega labels or by the back catalogs being sold off cheap to Private equity firms and Music Labels becoming a long running bad joke. The Major Labels could fix but, that would be like asking Arnold Schwarzenegger to become a Girly Man, just not going to happen.

  4. There should be one base price per track in the EU, then if taxes are different per country – add that to the base. What’s so difficult?

    Of course the more socialist a member country is, the higher the tax – Right?… O-Bummer??

  5. Right now, intellectual property law differs radically from country to country that it is just impossible to legally sell product that contains intellectual property throughout the world without setting up individual agreements with every country. Depending on the government and local regulations, different types of entities handle IP rights issues (royalties, performance fees, etc).

    Demon is probably right. WIPO is about the only entity in the world that could serve as the universal body to harmonise these laws. Fat chance for that, though, with many governments of the world happy to provide plenty legal wiggle room for their folk to freely copy, steal and reproduce IP of others.

  6. @ Peruchito

    From a strictly consumer point of view, sort of.. The goal is the same.
    I’ve been in the IP business for a long time (Recorded Audio Restoration and Conservatory to be exact) and deal on a daily bases with works from all over the world. I’ve also run a small Import CD business and learned first hand all about the Fox Agency and Mechanical Rights and how the Music Labels use them to restrict the physical media’s movement around the world.

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