The European Union has called on Europe’s music industry to create EU-wide copyright licenses for online music, contending this would boost demand for legal downloads.
EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy told the Associated Press that these licenses will make it easier for new European-based online services to take off.
Music copyrights are currently collected by national agencies, but the emergence of online music services such as Apple Computer’s iTunes means there is growing demand for a license that covers all 25 EU nations.
The European Commission said the absence of bloc-wide copyright licenses has been one factor that has made it difficult for new Internet-based music services to develop their full potential.
Apple has to obtain separate licenses for each song in every EU country to offer it to all Europeans, which could cost it up to 475,000 euros ($569,000) per song, the commission said. In practice, this means that users in some countries have a much smaller catalogue to choose from.
However, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said the music business is already working hard to license online music by tackling problems negotiating rights with copyright holders. “There are over 300 legal music sites in Europe now, some of them with over two million tracks,” it said.