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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Management of copyright and related rights in the internal market

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Management of copyright and related rights in the internal market

The Commission addresses questions relating to the collective and individual management of copyright and related rights in the internal market. It would like to implement a common legislative framework for the collective management of rights and particularly for good governance of collecting companies.


Commission Communication of April 16, 2004 on the management of copyright and related rights in the internal market [COM (2004) 261 - Not published in the Official Journal].


This communication deals with the management of copyright and related rights, i.e. how they are administered (granted through licences, assigned or financed). It concludes a consultation process started in 1995.

The Commission considers whether current management methods, which are mainly governed by national legislations, hamper the good functioning of the internal market. The exchange of goods and services based on copyright or related rights increasingly often takes place at Community level. Accordingly, the legislative framework governing the protection of these rights has to cater for this.

The Commission considers whether it is convenient to let the market stimulate Community licensing or whether it is preferable to enact Community legislation. The Commission puts forward a number of options:

  • ensure that any licence on the rights to communicate with or make available to the public, allows - by definition - usage throughout the Community;
  • adopt the same model as the one chosen for satellite broadcasting under Directive 93/83/EEC. The relevant act of communication to the public occurs solely in the Member State where the programme-carrying signals are introduced into an uninterrupted chain of communication up to the satellite and down towards the earth. The Commission expresses reservations, underlining that this approach does not necessarily yield the desired result of multi-territorial licensing;
  • bring the exclusive rights of communication to the public and of 'making available' under one remuneration right subject to obligatory collective management;
  • leave users the freedom to choose the collecting society within the European Economic Area which will issue the required operating licence;
  • empower collecting societies to offer Community licences;
  • focus exclusively on forms of collective management by specialised societies.

Another fundamental issue is the management of digital rights. Digital Rights Management systems (DRM systems) enable the distribution to be restricted to copies of digital content by obtaining and managing copyrights. To complete the internal market in this area, it is necessary to establish a global and interoperable technical infrastructure based on consensus among the interested parties, including consumers.

The management of copyrights and related rights can be done either individually or collectively. The Commission has examined these two ways of managing rights.

Individual Rights Management

It is the marketing of rights by individual rightholders to commercial users through exclusive or non-exclusive contractual licences.

The Commission has noted that the degree of common ground across Member States regarding the rules appears to be sufficient in this area. It is therefore not necessary to undertake action at Community level in the near future.

Collective Rights Management

This term refers to the system under which a collecting society, as trustee, jointly administers rights and monitors, collects and distributes the payment of royalties on behalf of several rightholders.

In this area, the Commission underlines the need to have a common legal framework based on the principles of copyright and the needs of the internal market. It would deal with issues linked to the establishment and status of collecting societies. This legislation would foster the emergence of Community licences for exploiting rights and would finalise the internal market.

It has initiated a new consultation process which has led to the adoption of a recommendation on cross-border collective management of copyright and relative rights in the field of legal on-line music services. It also intends to put forward legislation on certain features of collective management and good governance of collecting societies in order to ensure a higher degree of efficiency, legal certainty and transparency.

Last updated: 04.01.2006