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The politics of the Digital Single Market: culture vs. competition vs. copyright

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This paper examines the implications for European music culture of the European Union’s (EU) Digital Single Market strategy. It focuses on the regulatory framework being created for the management of copyright policy, and in particular the role played by collective management organisations (CMOs or collecting societies). One of the many new opportunities created by digitalisation has been the music streaming services. These depend on consumers being able to access music wherever they are, but such a system runs counter to the management of rights on a national basis and through collecting organisations which act as monopolies within their own territories. The result has been ‘geo-blocking’. The EU has attempted to resolve this problem in a variety of ways, most recently in a Directive designed to reform the CMOs. In this paper, we document these various efforts, showing them to be motivated by a deep-seated and persisting belief in the capacity of ‘competition’ to resolve problems that, we argue, actually lie elsewhere – in copyright policy itself. The result is that the EU’s intervention fails to address its core concern and threatens the diversity of European music culture by rewarding those who are already commercially successful.
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Keywords: Digital Single Market; collective management organisations; copyright policy; geo-blocking; music industry

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Information Law and CREATe, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2: School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Publication date: October 3, 2018

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