iTunes to hit more EU markets in 2010

By : |October 21, 2009 0

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: More European consumers should be able to download songs from Apple Inc’s iTunes music store next year after the firm and other groups agreed to rules for online music distribution, the European Commission said.

Existing practices for music licensing and the copyright framework in Europe can make it difficult for consumers to buy what they want on the Internet.

Apple, which currently does not let European users buy from iTunes online services outside their country of residence, controls just over half of global digital music sales through iTunes.

Apple, Amazon.com and music company were among several signatories to a joint statement on Monday that set out general principles for online distribution of music in the future, the Commission said.

"Apple has indicated that they were optimistic about making the iTunes store more available to European consumers in more European countries in the coming year," Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd told a regular briefing on Tuesday.

"This is a concrete step forward in terms of a better offer of online music for consumers, which will also benefit the music industry by ensuring better conditions in the market," he said.

Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, mobile phone maker Nokia, music royalty collecting societies SACEM, PRS for Music and STIM, and consumer organisation BEUC also signed up to the general principles.

"It is the first time that players from various parts of the market have agreed on a common roadmap," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

EMI is set to announce non-exclusive deals with collecting societies SGAE of Spain and France’s SACEM, while SACEM will look into setting up a pan-European, non-exclusive portal of songs for online services, the Commission said.

SACEM, which collects royalties for about 128,000 artists, said in May it was willing to drop territorial restrictions and allow national rivals to license its repertoire.

The Commission, which polices competition in the 27-country European Union, in July 2008 prohibited 24 European collecting societies from anticompetitive practices such as membership curbs that prevent authors from choosing their society.

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