Companies that want to sell music online in the European Union can now get a single license to operate in all countries of the EU, the European Commission said Wednesday. The deceision could allow popular U.S music services to easier enter the European market.
"These licenses will make it easier for new European-based online services to take off," Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said in a statement.
Starting an online music service in Europe such as Apple Computer's iTunes
currently requires the consent of dozens of license holders in each country--record labels, royalty collection societies, music publishers, and, in some cases, from the artists themselves.
The resulting lengthy negotiations pushed back the launch of services such as iTunes and Napster by months, and some popular U.S. music services such as Yahoo have yet to appear in Europe in part because of licensing red tape.
The Commission said in its guidelines to the industry on Wednesday that societies collecting royalty income on behalf of authors of music should henceforth have the right to operate across the EU, scrapping any territorial restrictions.
The Commission hopes this will end a situation whereby royalties owed to authors are not always distributed to them because of national barriers.